A Common Treasury for all…

Through a contact at Green Action Zagreb, our next destination was to meet activist fighting for the right to common pastures in Croatia. We made camp in their common field, and took a wash in the Sava – some of us even swimming across to Bosnia on the other side! The next morning we met some of the people who volunteer to keep the pastures alive and free for all.

Gajna, an NGO and voluntary organisation founded in 2007, have been working to reserve the habitat of the land and keep it in use and free from industrial agriculture and overgrowing indigenous crops that would render the land unusable and inhabitable for many species.

This is achieved through encouraging common grazing pastures, policy pressure along with local education and awareness. There they share the land with several neighboring keepers of local breeds, and have a herd strong enough to withstand the cold winters out on the pastures, but not economical enough to compete with the industrialized commercial herds, meaning that local awareness and much voluntary hard work is key to stop the land being taken back by the municipality.

In the evening we gather around the rocket stoves to sing the popular protest song about the right to common land and the English Diggers movement:

The Diggers Song

In 1649
To St George’s Hill
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people’ s will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed
Reclaiming what was theirs

We come in peace, they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the land in common
And to make the waste land grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it can be
A common treasury for all.

The sin of property
We do disdain
No one has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Rise up at their command.

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feeds the rich
While poor men starve

We work, we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to masters
Or pay rent to the lords
We are free men
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory

Stand up now
From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers’ claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed –
Only the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
The earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The order came to cut them down

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