However, ten years ago, her husband fell ill, so they both decided to quit their jobs and return to their native village. They decided to start an organic fruit farm on a 6-hectare plot of land which Mirela had inherited from her mother.
Mirela and her husband took out a loan from a commercial bank so that they could plant their orchard with apple, peach and apricot trees. They planted the trees in March 2008, but just three months later, their orchard was severely damaged by the force of a major flood. The extent of the flooding across Croatia was so significant that the authorities declared a state of emergency.
The bank did not agree to put a moratorium on their loan, however, and they quickly found themselves in debt and experienced difficulties servicing the loan. And if that was not enough, a late frost the following year saw their crop decimated.
To survive financially, Mirela started the production of organic vegetables. These days, she and her husband travel to the City of Osijek three times a week to sell their vegetables at the green market in the city center. They also sell other produce such as pickled vegetables, jams, juices, tomato sauce.
But they still face financial hurdles. “In order to sell our products at the market, we have to pay for microbiological and other chemical analyses and the price is the same whether you produce 200 jars or 50,000 jars,” says Mirela.