Uppony is a small village of 280 inhabitants in Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen, one of the most lagging behind counties of Hungary. The beautiful natural environment of the village is in sharp contrast with its current socio-economic status. The micro-region of Ózd, where Uppony is located, is situated in north-east Hungary and is one of the most disadvantaged and poorest areas in Hungary. The region is mostly characterised by small-size villages. Population is decreasing and ageing, while the unemployment rate is high.
Our main motivation to become a ‘smart village’ is to demonstrate that even marginalised and disadvantaged communities like ours have a ‘way out’ if the right solutions are identified and implemented.
Our goal is to find innovative and inspiring solutions that can help overcoming our challenges and attract both visitors and young inhabitants to Uppony and neighbouring villages. In particular, we would like to build on our rich natural environment, archaeological sites and geological points of interest that offer a lot of potential for tourism and beyond as well as on our local entrepreneurial capacities.
A positive recent development is that young people started to move into the area and some local entrepreneurship started to emerge. We would like to exploit this momentum and to build our solutions on these assets.
We are also looking for smart ways of cooperation with other neighbouring villages to further strengthen our position within the micro-region and beyond.
Village strategy :
Restoring Uppony’s cellar hill under way
The restoration process of Uppony’s nearby cellar hill is well under way: students from the University of Horticulture are creating sketch drawings of the area. These are based on a compilation of aerial photographs received from the Lechner Knowledge Centre and maps provided by the Hungarian Land Office.
The new sketches will help the redesign process of the cellar hill and, once finalised, will kick off its physical renewal on the basis of these visual designs and photorealistic images.
Capitalising on natural assets and stimulating the local economy
A new project aims to capitalise on Uppony’s surrounding nature and it gaining popularity among nature-loving tourists – it built resting areas, including rain shelters, social rooms, bench table sets, fireplaces and bicycle storages in Uppony and the neighbouring Bükkmogyorósd village.
This will not only give hikers, cyclists and other visitors on the increasingly popular Szilvásvárad-Putnok route places to stop and rest, but also the opportunity to purchase local goods from the two villages' entrepreneurs. The project was implemented within the framework of the Széchenyi 2020 programme and was completed recently.
Uppony landscape planning continues with further student visits
Cooperation between Uppony and the Hungarian Horticultural University has continued with two student visits in March and April.
In March, students of Tourism and Heritage protection surveyed by drone the coordinates of the main landmarks of the cellar hill and had discussions with the mayor and neighbour residents. In April, foreign students studying landscape design collected photos and other inputs to create posters related to the cellar hill.
Uppony promotes its natural richness to visitors
Uppony and its surroundings are extremely rich in natural resources and therefore a popular excursion destination. The village is promoting itself as a destination for hikers and other visitors through a Facebook group and a promotional video.
Uppony’s surrounding mountains are home to many walking and bike hiking trails, including national blue hiking. Within a few square kilometres there are many gorges, ravines, caves, pseudo-caves, streams, castle ruins, lakes, and lookouts.
Horticultural University students visit Uppony to start landscape planning
Uppony is cooperating with professors and students of the Hungarian Horticultural University, a group of which visited Uppony for the first time on 23 February 2022 to get to know the area and start developing ideas for their landscape plans.
The Smart Rural 21 project support in the village involves developing ideas and plans for the sustainable regeneration of the unique cellar hill (a key asset of the area), which counts hundreds of partly used or abandoned small cellars, situated in a beautiful natural environment.
Smart Rural Journey
Follow along with our Village Roadmap here :
An abandoned (former wine) cellar hill has been seen as one of the main assets of Uppony’s architectural and cultural heritage. The Smart Rural 21 project has aimed to explore how this neglected cellar row could be revitalised for the benefit of the rural territory and people. Collaboration has been established with the Hungarian University of Agricultural and Life Sciences (MATE), to work together with university students and professors in the framework of a student idea competition – organised within an integrated course work of their MSc Degree. The MSc students worked on the eight municipalities of the Uppony Mountains in the framework of a complex spatial planning workshop that was held throughout the spring semester, and presented their research results and development proposals at the final event of the students’ idea competition, covering various areas of spatial and rural development, tourism, heritage protection, green infrastructure and greenway planning.
Step 1/4 : Project planning
Cooperation has been established between local initiators in Uppony and the professors of the University of Agricultural and Life Sciences (MATE), and the project planning has started. Innovation concerned the engagement of young people in the thinking about the future of the rural area of Uppony and the rehabilitation of the cellar hill. The cooperation brought new and fresh ideas to the local community at the same time students learned about rural development issues in an integrated way covering courses in spatial and rural development, tourism, heritage protection, green infrastructure and greenway planning.
Step 2/4 : Field visits to Uppony
Both a Hungarian and an international student group of MATE (a total of some 50 students) and their professors have visited the Uppony area (a total of four times in March, April & May), including one-day trips and 2 or 3 day long working sessions. Prior to the visit they have done in-depth research on Uppony and neighbouring villages. During the field visit to Uppony they have gained hands-on experience about the area, visited relevant sites, listened to presentations of local specialists and carried out interviews with local people.
Step 3/4 : Development plans to be elaborated by students
Students were allocated into groups and the groups had the task to elaborate on an innovative concept (you can check some of the elaborated concept here) for the rehabilitation of the cellar hill based based on the series of research tasks that they received from their professors, including the potential use of the cellars for the benefit of the local people and the area. As an outcome of the whole activity, students realised a complex analysis of the Uppony and neighbouring area and the cellar hill has (with the guidance of university professors).
Step 4/4 : Choosing the winning concept of the utilisation of the Uppony cellar row
During the final stage, the students were pitching their ideas in front of a jury composed of the local mayor, local coordinator, Smart Rural 21 project representative and professors. Presentations were held in Uppony on 16 May 2022. Locals from Uppony and neighbouring villages have also been invited to listen to and discuss the presentations of the students. The lively exchange of ideas that followed showed that they had succeeded in reaching out to the residents, entrepreneurs and local government officials living and working in the area. The winning concept (entitled “Once Uppony a time…”) for the utilisation of the Uppony cellar row has been selected and the relevant student group awarded.
A short TV broadcast about Uppony – ‘You're Home!’ (aired on 7 December 2018) – presenting treasures around the village, local cultural values, and the row of cellars built in the mid-1800s, and plans for its sustainable regeneration, an activity implemented within the framework of the Smart Rural 21 project.
Uppony’s cellar hill
Discover drone footage of Uppony’s cellar hill which is currently under restoration on the basis of cooperation between the village and students from the University of Horticulture involved in landscape planning, who are preparing sketch drawings of the area.