The Academy of Nature and Hajnówka Local Product Center
This year we plan to complete the stage of formal and legal analyses. We will also develop a business model and conduct consultations. In turn, at the beginning of next year, the inventory of the Bartnik inn will start, then the visualization will be created, and the design documentation should be ready by July. This is the work schedule for the coming months.
What have we done so far? Work on the Academy of Nature began in the spring of this year. In March, a meeting was held with the participation of all project partners, advisors and the entire educational community. The breakthrough came after our partners from Alta (Norway) who visited us in May. We presented them proposals for two locations: the office of the “Hajnówka ReNewal – Green Transformation” project at Piłsudskiego St. 8 and the Bartnik inn at Parkowa St. Guests from Norway opted for the second place, emphasizing the good location (near the park and the proximity of the railway station) and the surroundings of the facility itself. We received a similar recommendation from our advisors, e.g. from the Association of Polish Cities, as well as representatives of the educational community.
In July, we organized a site inspection of the facility, and on October 25, the mayor of Hajnówka signed a notarial agreement regarding the purchase of the facility. The official transfer of the building to the city administration is to take place in mid-December. According to the original plans, the building was to house only the Academy of Nature, but eventually the city authorities decided to also place the Hajnówka Local Product Center here and combine two functions in one place.
Work on the HCPL was carried out almost in parallel. On July 19, we organized a meeting with entrepreneurs from Hajnówka, during which we presented the idea of HCPL and talked to entrepreneurs about their expectations regarding this place. In August, we invited them to participate in a survey in which we asked them to indicate specific problems they face at work. You can read about the results here.
The Academy of Nature - what do we know?
On Monday (28.11.) a consultation meeting was held, during which we presented the arrangements so far, as well as the challenges we face. It was led by Michał Basiński, our consultant from Synergia from Lublin.
We are halfway to creating a new, innovative formula of a multifunctional place in Hajnówka. Which will meet the expectations of residents, entrepreneurs, people who participated in the research during the writing of this project. If we are talking about something that is pioneering, it requires a careful approach to the subject. That is why we analyze all possible information that may concern us. The analysis of the formal and legal environment is particularly important.
When implementing the project, we must act in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy, and justify each adopted solution. This implementation will take place in three stages:
- Stage I – design and modernization (2022-2024): public consultations, expert opinions, functional design, construction design, modernization of the facility
- Stage II – project durability period (2024-2029): functioning in accordance with the program rules, preparation for commercialization
- Stage III – commercialization 2029+
Hajnówka is in a winning position. The city received 100% funding for this investment. However, this comes with some limitations. Meanwhile, our task is to meet the expectations of residents as much as possible within the framework of the project's rules. In addition, we must plan the functioning of this place in such a way that it is able to support itself and the city does not have to contribute to it.
These limitations apply to the durability period of the project, i.e. five years after its completion. The point is that the object cannot make money during this time, because it would be against the law. It must function in such a way that costs and revenues are balanced. Commercial activity may account for only 20 percent of the facility’s revenue or 20 percent of its area. After legal consultations, we have identified the areas where this can take place. These are:
- nature educatio
- health by nature
- creative locality
- marketing and management.
The Academy of Nature – attractions
What attractions could take place here as part of the listed functions? These can be, for example, green schools (an offer combined with accommodation and meals), an interactive nature exhibition (ticketed), Living Mushroom Laboratory (as part of cooperation with the Białystok University of Technology), nature education classes for Hajnówka residents and visitors. And:
- sensory path
- outdoor gym
- animating and promoting activities supporting the health-promoting properties of nature
- an offer supplementing the public health care system, e.g. rehabilitation
- Green Integration Center
- summer camps and holidays with local culture
- workshops supporting and promoting local creativity and cultural heritage, e.g. on handicrafts; gallery with the possibility of buying local products or handicrafts.
Hajnówka Local Product Center – activities
As for the Hajnówka Local Product Center, it would be in the area of marketing and management as well as creative locality. As part of free activities, there could be, for example, an exhibition promoting local products and producers, workshops promoting education for entrepreneurship or a tourist information point where a calendar of events could be obtained. It is also here that local product brand management would take place (providing the logo, regulations, consulting on branding). An additional attraction in the facility could also be an exhibition dedicated to Simona Kossak (creative locality).
Another issue that is being worked on is the legal form of the facility. There is an idea that the city should manage it during the lifetime of the project. After its expiry, there will be a competition for an external operator who will be able to fully commercialize the facility.
When is Bartnik opening?
What interests the residents, as well as entrepreneurs in the context of HCPL, is the answer to the question: when will the facility start operating? At the moment, we are at the beginning of the first stage, i.e. in the course of formal and legal analyzes and consultations. We plan to finish it this year. What activities lie ahead?
Development of project documentation
August 2023 – February 2024
1st stage of works execution
Start of business
We would like to emphasize that the design documentation will cover the modernization of the entire building. However, as part of the project, we can only finance the first stage of the reconstruction. One that will enable the facility to function in the basic scope. The city will seek external funds to complete the works.
In the last months of work on the project, we were often asked why the detailed concept of the building's operation and the legal formula were not created earlier, before submitting the application for co-financing. As is done in the case of investments financed from EU funds. This happened because the Norwegian project is not an investment project, although it obviously allows investment projects. This is a project whose aim is to initiate activities that will give the city an impulse for development. During its implementation, there will be extensive cooperation between various social environments, hence surveys and meetings to which residents are invited. When applying for funding, we only presented an idea, but all details are to be worked out in the course.
She also emphasizes that cooperation includes not only residents, but also representatives of various environments and project partners, including, among others, The Białowieża National Park, the Mammal Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Białystok University of Technology and the Marshal’s Office of the Podlaskie Voivodeship.
The Monday consultation meeting was attended by councilors and representatives of tourist organizations and entrepreneurs. How do they evaluate the project?
Hajnówka lacks low-budget accommodation for organized groups. The organization of green schools or winter holidays in the facility is a good direction.
In turn, the representative of entrepreneurs made the following comments:
There should be no competition in HCPL, i.e. the sale of products. The tourist should only obtain information about the producers and where to buy their products.
Entrepreneurs should be treated equally when it comes to using a local product mark.
During the durability period, the facility should not be managed by the city, as there is a fear that the voice of entrepreneurs will not be taken into account. An association or foundation should be established, with the city as one of its members.
It was agreed that by the end of March 2023, entrepreneurs will receive regulations for consultation, where the rules for using the “local product from Hajnówka” mark will be precisely defined. The city will also ask for a legal opinion on the proposed form of management.
The Academy of Nature - consultations and study visits
More meetings are ahead of us. On the subject of the Academy of Nature and HCPL, we want to consult extensively with residents, representatives of various environments, as well as our ZMP advisors and experts. Importantly, the project provides for study visits to other places of this type in Poland. The visit to the partner city in Norway is behind us. Representatives of the city and the project team returned from Alta in September.