The field trip to Hazel Village (Alunisu in Romanian and Magyarokereke in Hungarian), which was part of The Second European Forum for Food Sovereignty which was held in Cluj Napoca, Oct 25 -30, has been a very succesful event. Both visitors and villagers have experienced the day and the exchanges as extremely interesting and deeply fulfilling.
Over 75 participants representing 25 nationalities had the chance to visit four different examples of peasant life styles in Hazel Village. The field trip Participants for the fieldtrip came from many different constituencies, like peasants, food producers, food consumers, NGO's, researchers, fisherfolk, shepherds and indigenous peoples. They came from Austria, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Portugal, Poland, Scotland, England, Hungary, Greece, Sweden, Cyprus, Belarus, Spain, Romania, and even all the way from Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Senegal!
Robyn from Provision gave an overview of the project beginning with the newly inaugurated volunteer house, the barn where the new group space will be built, the guesthouse, goat barn and greenhouse. The group then moved up to the original house and had a view of the root cellar with harvest just in, the kitchen gardens, the free range ducks and chickens and horse roaming around the orchard. She spoke of Provision's mission using the rubrics outlined by Joanna Macy in her work toward The Great Turning. Provision works in all three of these domains: with "Holding Action in Defense of Life," in "Transforming the Foundations of Our Common Life," and, as learning center, in "Shifting Perceptions and Values."
Szilard, priest and cheese producer, shared his story: how he decided to buy the milk from the villagers (who in average own 2 cows) at the moment when the local milk collection decided the community had become too small to make it economically viable. With this decision, the village's access to a market for the milk was gone. Because now Szilard buys the milk and makes cheese out of it, the local peasants are able to keep their cows and continue their traditional way of living, the local shepherd can keep his job and many people enjoy a wonderfully healthy product (cheese). Szilard also raises, on average, 6 pigs per year by feeding them the byproduct of his cheese making (the whey).
Marioara, an elderly peasant woman, showed everyone around on her small farm. She is one of the many of an aging peasant population. She keeps one cow, two pigs, and twenty chickens. She grows her own potatoes, carrots, onions, beans and cabbages. She grows grains for her animals. She makes hay. She has meat, eggs, milk and cheese from her own production. She changes her walnuts for cooking oil and sugar and turns her apples and plums into palinka (a local brandy) which she changes for labour and goods. She is almost entirely self sufficient.
Adi, a young shepherd told his story: how he learned the skills of his father (who was also present and played beautiful shepherd songs on a flute), how he loves the work with the sheep in the mountains, how he wants to continue even though Access to Land (link) becomes a problem for him. At the moment he is renting the common lands from the local community and he is concerned that this might not last much longer, since prices are going up and competition with larger enterprises is making his position less and less tenable.
Lars from Provision shared with the participants and the outside world about the challenges the Romanian peasants and the Food Sovereignty Movent at large face these days; Access to Land, Access to Tradtional Seeds, Access to a Market, the threats of corporate control (in agriculture), threats caused by treaties like CETA and TTIP, the need of agroecological farming versus agroindustrial farming, the need of more awareness among citizens and policy makers to turn the Industrial Growth Society into a truly sustainble world where there is enough healthy food for everyone without harming the Earth. He also calls for more involvement in the European Food Sovereignty Movement
Transportation was offered by four local peasants and their horses and carts!