Igor, manager of the Kulu farm a former sovkhoz (Soviet-era state-owned farm) on the river Kolyma, stands in a greenhouse among the cucumber plants. He is wearing a t-shirt that reads: 'Born in the USSR'. The farm was established in 1970s to provide dairy products and vegetables for mining towns located in the area but after the fall of the USSR its non-profitability lead to its closure in the 2000s and the people from the town were re-settled.
However, Andrey Poltoratsky, an entrepreneur, took on about 30 hectares of the former sovkhoz through the Far East Hectare programwith hopes of bringing the place back to life. It now has a dairy farm with 36 cows, as well as a flock of egg-laying chickens. There are five greenhouses where cucumbers and tomatoes produce two harvests a year and the farm's output is sold in nearby cities.
The free hectare program, launched in 2016, enables people to apply for free tracts of land in the under developed Russian Far East. They must present a project to a development ministry and if their activity seems viable, they are given free plots and if successfully run then they officially become the land owners and can bequeath it to their children or resell the land.