Letting Values Grow

Aleksandra Domańska used to work as a manager at the Polish branch of the chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer. Today, she is the Garden Coordinator at the Youth Initiative Program (YIP) in Ytterjärna, Sweden. We asked her a few questions about her new position.


How did your path lead you from your previous job to your new role as Garden Coordinator for the YIP?

It was almost a four-year transition. Once I realized that my job contradicted my deeper values, I had to first find the courage to quit my work at Bayer. It was scary to start over from scratch, to take a step into the unknown. I finally resigned in 2021 and moved from Poland to Sweden. Initially, I worked for a year as a volunteer on a farm near Järna. I needed time to reconnect with myself, with nature, and with new people. I began to dream about working more with the earth and using my project management skills for environmental projects. However, the anxiety and perfectionism from the big corporate world were still in me.

The turning point came when I started helping out at the solidarity farming initiative Under Tallarna in Järna. I had already grown vegetables in my parents’ garden before, but it was at Under Tallarna that I learned more about biodynamic farming, permaculture, and regenerative agriculture. I also met the YIP garden coordinator there and started gardening in the YIP garden. I understood more and more what an important role healthy food plays for me and that I wanted to share this love with other people. Last spring, I was offered the job of Garden Coordinator at YIP. It is the most fulfilling and grounding job I can imagine. It invites me to constantly question my ideas about myself and the world. Because only with a constant presence and openness can we create this beautiful, flourishing garden.

What values are important in your job with YIP?

Balance, good-heartedness, authenticity, and creativity are the first things that come to mind. I try to give YIP participants a good learning experience by being myself and creating a space where they can manifest whatever they imagine.

What is your job in the garden like?

It’s filled with togetherness, presence, and connection. On working days, we start at seven in the morning. Depending on the season, we spend an hour preparing the soil, weeding, sowing, planting, watering, or harvesting. Then, we have breakfast all together and sing various songs. Mondays are gardening days in the program, so on these days, the whole group works with me in the afternoon. The working time always ends with a fika, a Swedish coffee break, where we talk about what we’ve done that day.


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Translation Joshua Kelberman
Image Aleksandra Domanska, Photo: Nell Lenoir

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