Fund for Armenian Relief’s Zangakatun Community Development program was born as a collaboration between FAR and local farmers. While Zangakatun is famous for a variety of traditionally grown apples, very often its farmers faced challenges as they did not have adequate storage facilities, and were continually faced with the challenge to either rapidly sell their entire harvest or experience significant losses.

In 2013, FAR, thanks to the visionary generosity of its benefactors Harry and Susan Toufayan, established the Zangakatun Agro Business Center with a cooling facility of 200 tones capacity where the villagers could store and preserve their apple harvests. That was just the beginning, and this only helped farmers to significantly increase their profits.

Later on, FAR and its partners also donated special fruit drying equipment, which enabled the community to diversify its produce for the market. In addition, a completely new irrigation line was set up that contributes to higher farming production, and supports new orchards.

Recently, FAR donors and friends led by Board Member Oscar Tatosian visited the village as part of a tour around Armenia, which included stops at several FAR project sites. Zangakatun Mayor Emin Sahakyan told them the story of the Zangakatun Development Program and invited them to try the fruit off the tree along with the dried plum made in the electric driers.

“Twenty out of 27 kg of the preserved crop goes to the market in January and February, which makes quite a difference. Frankly speaking, the villagers were first skeptical about the cooling facility and many wouldn’t bring their harvest over for storage. Now, they have to wait in line to use it,” said the mayor, who added that the farmers start collecting the harvest on October 1st.

At noon, the guests headed to Zangakatun’s kindergarten where the kids were about to have lunch. In 2013, the kindergarten was also renovated and refurbished, including the building’s heating system, and an outside playground was built thanks to Toufayan’s generous support.

“Good afternoon,” the children said collectively before taking their spoons to eat.

While the kids were munching on the food, trip participant and FAR friend David Mark Derks approached them with a beaming smile and sat on a tiny chair. “Hello, I’m David. What’s your name,” he asked with a chuckle to a little boy who couldn’t understand the stranger’s new language. He waited until the teacher translated, then looked at him and said, “Hello David, I am Aram from Zangakatun. Nice to meet you,” and extended his hand. They talked some 10 minutes and departed with a handshake.

The kindergarten principal Marine Grigoryan said that the children enjoyed the time they spent in the kindergarten as well outside on the playground.