With the increasing demand for organic food, housing and environmentally friendly fuels, Lopata saw an opportunity to promote organic agriculture and give small farmers a way to remain competitive and viable. Through ECEAT-Poland and ICPPC, Lopata provided training in organic agriculture, promoted ecological tourism and the development of local markets. Her projects have created a system of eco-farms throughout Poland where visitors can vacation and learn about the environmental and health benefits of organically grown food. In 1993, ECEAT-Poland attracted 400 tourists from Western Europe to 14 Polish eco-farms. Only three years later, in 1996, about 3,000 tourists were accommodated on more than 60 farms. In her own village, Lopata succeeded in convincing the public and local authorities to support small-scale tourism instead of building a large resort.
Lopata created a network of more than 130 organic and transitional-to-organic family farms in Poland. Participating farmers get an average of 20 percent of their income from ecotourism. Between 2000 and 2002, about 13,000 ecotourists visited these farms (about 30 percent from within Poland and 70 percent from abroad). The ECEAT approach has now been established successfully in other European countries and is coordinated internationally.
Poland officially became an EU member state in 2004, and Lopata and her colleagues are continuing their work to advance Poland’s small farms and the organic food movement. She is currently working on a campaign; ‘Direct from the Polish farmer’ which resists the advance of supermarket chains in the country, while helping to ensure a future for local food and those who supply them.