His name sounds familiar to most people, but not everyone immediately associates him with the farming industry. Meet a Slovak who has made a good name for Slovak soil in the world.

The revitalisation of the Samuel Jurkovic Peasant Cooperative, a member of the Sanagro Group, means much more to us than just a working success. We are proud that we have managed to rebuild a cooperative that has spreading a patriotic message right in its name. Who was Samuel Jurkovic, you ask? A seemingly charismatic man, a skilled businessman, a nationalist, an artist, but also a passionate defender of nature and the tenacious work of the Slovak people. 

(Almost) the first in Europe

Samuel Jurkovič became most famous for founding the People's Credit Cooperative. Established in 1845, his Society of Householders was the second cooperative in Europe and only narrowly missed out on the top spot. The very first European co-operative had been established three months earlier in the British town of Rochdale. 

It did not take long for Jurkovič's business idea to become an inspiration for others, and so in the second half of the 19th century in Slovakia new and new associations - called landlord or economic associations - began to spring up. In the manner of savings banks, they helped peasants not only in the form of financial support, but their contribution also consisted in increasing the financial literacy of Slovaks. 

No heat

Jurkovič tried to motivate hard-working farmers to improve their estates and at the same time to protect them from the unfair practices of greedy usurers. His whole business activity has a strong moral dimension. Some of the points in Jurkovic's statutes for loan applicants sound almost smiley today. For example: whoever wanted to draw on the money of the members of the association had to undertake to live honestly and morally, not to get drunk, stay out late or play cards. 

The rule of two trees

There were more curious rules that Jurkovič invented and wrote down. The most interesting is the rule of two trees. It is uncomplicated, easy to implement and aptly illustrates Jurkovič's ecological sensitivity as well as his respect for the Slovak soil: each cooperative member had to promise to plant two new trees on the municipal land once a year.

It is worth mentioning that the current owners of the Samuel Jurkovič Peasant Cooperative decided to pick up the forgotten tradition of planting trees again. They want to pay a symbolic tribute not only to Jurkovič's idea, but also to nature. After all, the latter is their main "bread winner". 

Economist and poet

Samuel Jurkovič was a rare type of man who can think like a pragmatic economist, but is an artist at heart. Although we know him primarily as a cooperative and "financial pioneer of Europe", it is less well known that he loved to write. He was a regular contributor to contemporary magazines and even authored several pedagogical books or poems. He was instrumental in founding reading societies and municipal libraries, and was also one of the five spirited nationalists who founded the Slovak National Theatre in the former Nitra stool. 

Renaissance Man

It is unbelievable that in addition to all his other activities, Jurkovič also managed to work as a teacher and notary, and he was one of the founders of the Slovak Matrix and a participant in the preparation of the uprising of 1848-1849. 

The label "renaissance man" is appropriate for him, because everything he undertook (and there was no shortage of it!), he did to the full and with an innovative approach. His willingness to go off the beaten track is also evidenced by his passion for new agricultural crops. At a time when people were wary of anything new in the fields, he was the first to welcome change and inspiration from the world with open arms.  

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