ROMANIA: Small scale sustainable farming in Transylvania

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Update 7th May 2020: Course under review. As soon as we have confirmed information on the possibility of holding the course on the advertised dates we will contact participants. It is possible that some participants will be unable to make the course. If you would like to be considered for a reserve place please email an expression of interest.

Hosts: Monica Oprean & Martin Clark (Association Satul Verde)

Course Dates: 24 – 31 August 2020

Application Deadline: 2 March 2020

Preparation Meeting Date: 14 August 2020

Aims & Themes: exploring small scale sustainable farming; hay making & orchards within a cultural landscale; the challenges of sustainable rural development, community engagement and heritage management

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Draft Itinerary:

Participants will learn about subsistence farming as opposed to intensive farming, as well as traditional ways of managing the land. There will be opportunities to do some hands on work like hay making (cutting grass with a scythe, making a hay stack), fruit gathering, making preserves.

DAY ONE: Arrive in Cluj Napoca and travel to the market town of Aiud in Alba County ( the transfer takes around 1:15 h, depending on traffic). Overnight at “Casa Domeniile Vinului” Ciumbrud (a village at the outskirts of Aiud town). Dinner & discussion about the programme.

 DAY TWO: Visit the village of Girbovita. We start a ‘day on the farm’ – visiting vine yard / hay meadows / orchards & vegetable gardens.  In each, the focus is on the wildlife potential of these traditionally farmed areas – we look out for insects, birds, trees and flowers – their importance & significance is discussed. Haymaking – we might learn to cut with a scythe and will turn hay and make a hay stack. Visit the fence without wire and go into the forest to see the source of the small roundwood – discuss the nature conservation value of pollarding & coppicing. Lunch at the farm.  In the remaining time we’ll do some practical work – depending on weather (hay making).Return to Aiud/Ciumbrud in the afternoon.

DAY THREE : Early start into the mountains to the village of Rimet. We drive up through stupendous oak forest – stopping to look at this specific biotype (depending on season, there are a variety of edible fungi).  We break out from the forest into high hay meadows and pastures – the flowers and cacophony of insect noises is startling. Look at flowers, identify some of the more notable ones – learning their local names & uses. We visit the traditional steep pitched roof houses and admire how they blend into the landscape. Visit the mayor & hear about how this mountain village ticks – with animal rearing at its base. Walk through hay meadows and look at shredded ash trees – producers of leaf hay, especially when grass hay was in short supply. Visit the etnographic museum in the village and meet Torita, the lady in charge of the museum.Overnight in Ciumbrud. If time allows, we’ll do some hay making.

DAY FOUR : Market day in Aiud, spend the morning browsing the stalls; the fruit and vegetable market is very interesting. Then we’ll do a cheese tasting at a local cheese factory using local milk, close to the beautiful village of Rimetea, an ethnically Hungarian village. We’ll go to the museum to see a typical example of cultural interpretation. Also a chance to browse in the shops. We’ll point out the authentic local products. In the afternoon we’ll meet a local fruit tree producer and we can have a local wine tasting if the group is interested.

 DAY FIVE: In the morning.  we are back to the village of Girbovita, where we’ll do some hands-on work (hay/ preserves/village pasture clearing) depending on what’s on.  In the afternoon, we re-locate to Alba Iulia, in time to visit the star-shaped fortress, where unification of Romania occurred in 1918. Overnight in Alba Iulia

 DAY SIX: All day visit to Sibiu. We’ll go to  the Astra Village Museum which has around 400 reconstructed vernacular buildings. We have time to visit the historic centre before returning to Alba Iulia for overnight

DAY SEVEN: Drive along the Mures river –Visit the Saxon church at Vurpar.  Carry on to Homorod to the wood pasture with its ancient poplars and willows.  Look at the old trees and discuss management and the future for this kind of village pasture; we may stack fallen branches to protect natural regeneration.

 DAY EIGHT : Early morning transfer to Cluj Napoca. Departure from Cluj airport.

Reports from 2019 & 2018

Click here to download the full NET course list for 2020.

Click here to download the NET 5 2020 application form. (SNH staff are very
welcome to email an expression of interest but they must complete their own internal HR process before submitting an application form)

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