Bay Area nonprofit, winemaker turning Ukraine's minefields into vineyards

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Saturday, December 3, 2022
Bay Area nonprofit turning Ukraine's minefields into vineyards
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As the war in Ukraine continues, efforts are underway in Napa to help rid the embattled country of landmines and turning them into vineyards.

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- As the battle in Ukraine continues, efforts are underway in Napa to help rid the embattled country of countless landmines.

"May we turn mines to vines and replace the scourge of landmines with bountiful vineyards in Ukraine - this a call to action," said Heidi Kuhn, founder and CEO of Roots of Peace.

Over the past 25 years, the nonprofit has removed millions of landmines worldwide and planted more than six million fruit trees - planning to add to that tally in Ukraine near the Baltic Sea.

"This is a region in Ukraine where we have a lot of wine production," said Dmytro Kushneruk, Consulate General of Ukraine in San Francisco, noting landmines are threatening the country's agricultural production, including vineyards.

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"The wine production stopped and the wine producers could not access their wineries because it was covered in mines," said Kushneruk.

"We are committed in the spring when the snow thaws to begin the demining of that land and planting of the roots of peace on earth," said Kuhn.

Grgich Hills Estate is also committed to the call. The winery has been supporting Roots of Peace for decades - hosting Friday's fundraising event is one of its ways.

"In any way that any of us can do to help promote peace through the world, we should do it and agriculture is a huge way of doing that," said Violet Grgich, president of Grgich Hills Estate.

And, Daniel Yuval is certainly doing his part to promote peace. The landmine survivor is sharing his story.

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"My name is Daniel Yuval. I'm 23 years old from Israel. I was injured by a landmine when I was 11 years old in 2010," said Yuval, speaking to the audience.

He lost his part of right leg while playing in the snow with his sister.

"I could hear my sister screaming. I tried to stand up, but felt an incredible pain and immediately fell back down," said Yuval.

His road to recovery began shortly after and so did his relationship with Roots of Peace - teaming up to help raise awareness.

"It's important to me to give back to society. If we all could do that the world would be a much better place."

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