The volunteers team of the Transylvanian Herb Garden was present at the Fruit Festival of Odorhei Region (22-24th September) with a large variety of programs. The products made from the freshly harvested/grown medicinal plants of the summer were prepared using the knowledge gained during the courses held along this project and they were enriching not only the medicinal herbs tents, but could be found on the stands of the communities’ tents as well. The presentations, craft workshops and herb recognition competitions included in the program were equally interesting for visitors of all ages.
On 21st October, Saturday, at 10 am, we held a workshop on medicinal plants for teachers in Odorheiu Secuiesc, at the headquarters of the Civitas Foundation.
After a brief presentation of the project, Csaba Jére introduced the booklet entitled „The basics of Knowing Medicinal Plants”, which is mainly aiming children as its audience, giving methodological guidance to its application. Afterwards Magdolna Bákai held a presentation about the activities and program packages related to medicinal plants, available at the Competence Center of Locodeni.
During this event practical sessions were held as well, the participants could try to create simple, medicinal plant based preparations.
On Friday morning, 13th October, the closing conference of the project was held in the Panorama Pension, together an exhibition of the communities own herbal products. The conference was preceded by a press conference, attended by Gábor Kolumbán –president of the Civitas Foundation, Csaba Hajdó -member of the advisory board, Márton Balog –regional director of the Civitas Foundation from Cluj, Árpád Orbán – ex project manager, and on behalf of this project Géza Lajos Dénes –financial manager and Magdolna Bákai -project manager.
At the event, Árpád Orbán spoke of the beginnings, mentioning the name of program director Mónika Pakot, who had a significant role in the design and writing of the project and Ágnes Bara, who was the manager of the project at the start. He also spoke about how the Transylvanian Herb Garden project fits among the other projects of the Civitas Foundation.
Magdolna Bákai presented the project’s main activities and outcomes, highlighting the role of the Transylvanian Herb Garden Association, which will ensure the sustainability of the project. Mónika Pakot participated in the project as a trainer and she shared her personal experiences with the participants, Márton Balogh presented the Cluj-Napoca team’s part of the project: he was speaking about the formation of the volunteer groups, about the most important activities and outcomes of the project and the direction in which it will continue.
Gabriela Demian from Civitas Cluj-Napoca, who has been a project assistant for some time in the project presented a new project of Civitas Cluj, entitled ’’The Tea Box’’, which received funding under the sub-measure 16.4 of the National Rural Development Program (NRDP).
Gábor Kolumbán was talking about continuation opportunities, presenting a new project idea, developed together with the Swiss partners during a workshop. Afterwards, Éva Blénessy, former community organizer of the project, held a presentation about the role and purpose of the community.
With regard to future plans, it was also said that the continuous training of the members of the association was necessary. Katalin Cseke Árkosi talked about popular medicine, which could become the theme of the training courses held in the future.
After the conference there was an exhibition, where the communities had the chance to introduce themselves. The participants of the project spoke about their own experiences and demonstrated with their varied products, that the acquired knowledge was put in practice.
On 15th September we held an Open Day in Locodeni. The program included a workshop on the strategy of the Competence Center of Locodeni and right after that, a visit to the processing department, lecture room and show garden with the guidance of Csaba Jére. Afterwards the participants found themselves in the middle of a herbal exchange taking place on the camp site next to the brook, where they had the chance to exchange their seeds, seedlings, recipes and herbal preparations, and where they also could try to prepare spicy salt, an aromatic bouquet or a lavender doll. They could also test their newly acquired knowledge by participating in a herb recognition competition.
More than 40 children and young people participated in the workshop about medicinal plants held at the Competence Center in Locodeni, organized on 10-11th August. During these two days the participants actively participated in activities related to the recognition, collection and processing of medicinal plants. The theory behind the workshop’s practical exercises was based on a publication which can be very well used as teaching material as well, complied within the frames of this project by biologist Csaba Jére. This booklet, containing the basic knowledge on medicinal herbs, will be published in September.
In 4 to 5 August, took place the open days event for the Competence Center in Collecting and Processing Medicinal and Aromatic Plants within the project entitled “Social Integration of disadvantaged people in rural area through sustainable collection and processing of medicinal and aromatic plants” , which is located in Sic, Cluj County. The event was organized by Civitas Foundation for Civil Society – Cluj-Napoca Branch and addressed to the local people and lovers of nature from the rural communities of Cluj County.
The initiative was launched with the aim of encouraging the generation of new sources of income for disadvantaged people in rural areas and educating them on the sustainable cultivation and processing of medicinal plants, the facilities of the center being freely available to those who collect or cultivate plants.
Thus, the Competence Center in Collecting and Processing Medicinal and Aromatic Plants ensures the transfer of knowledge about the collection and processing of plants of this kind and offers the opportunity to put into practice the learned methods. The facilities available include a plant kiln, a crusher for products like teas and spices, and a distiller for the creation of oils and essences.
The event took place over two days and included several activities, addressed to both children and adults, including a lavender distillation workshop, preparation of various spices and presentation of the existing equipment.
On June 19th the volunteers of the Transylvanian Herb Garden from Cluj and Odorhei regions travelled to Iernuțeni (Reghin), where they visited the farm of Csaba Szakács, forestry engineer. Csaba Szakács started his company, the Prodplant Impex Ltd., 25 years ago and today he is growing medicinal plants and herbs on 200 hectares. Since the year 2000 he has been growing bio plants and since 2004 he has been introducing the biodynamic production gradually on his lands. Today he has 134 hectares, that have the biodynamic certification and he is the number one plant grower for the Austrian Sonnetor company.
The Transylvanian Herb Garden team did not go there with empty hands, the volunteers brought a nice bouquet of self-picked oregano, collected on the fields of Zetea and gave some delicious Szeklerfruit products to the medicinal plants grower farmer.
The program started with the presentation of the machine park: the manual labour is diminishing in our days so we are in need of machines. After this, the forestry engineer showed them how he is making the preparations ready, as the basic condition for biodynamic certification is the use of preparations. With the checking out of the high-capacity dryers, he emphasized, that quality is a very important aspect of biodynamic products, so it is important that the plants do not lose their flavour, fragrance and colour during the drying. We could see this happening right there, on the drying shelves, where nicely scenting Damascus rose petals and colourful cornflowers were laying.
There is a more than ten years old rose plantation close to the farm buildings, where the harvesting was already done. Csaba Szakács explained, that the following task is the cutting of the shoots, in the early spring in order to make it easier to work between the lines and that the stems can be easily approached when collecting the petals.
At the end of the city several hectares of cornflower splendored in different colours and were collected manually by the pickers.
At noon the group had lunch in the restaurant of the Gliga Farm, where Mureșan Cristian, an economist held a presentation about a multi-standing farm, where they are growing fruit and grains on hundreds of hectares, but they have a large number of livestock as well. The fruit garden was presented by a young horticulture, who talked with much love and faith about his work, and who is trying to work with nature-friendly methods, despite the fact that there is no organic production on the farm. In the afternoon they visited the Sonnetor store and showroom, where Thomas Weinraub, the director, held a presentation about the founding and development of the company. The sales agent responsible for Romania has emphasized that good quality products and an attracting and impressive packaging are equally important marketing aspects.
On 1st of July the volunteers of the Transylvanian Herb Garden from Odorhei and Cluj regions participated at the National Festival of NGOs organized in the Fogoly Street of Cluj-Napoca. The event was organized by the Civil Society Development Foundation (CSDF), its motto was Civic Break and it had a medicinal plants and herbs show tent, where the newest products were presented and interactive workshops were held for the visitors interested in medicinal plants and herbs.
The tent was nicely decorated with lavender and coloured flower bouquets, so it easily attracted the attention of the people walking on the Potaissa street, many of them came closer to have a look at the herbal products, to participate in the herb-recognition contest or to prepare their own spicy salt.
The aim of these workshops was to draw attention to the importance of medicinal plants, their beneficial/health preserving properties.
The audience in Cluj have proven its interest towards these plants as more than 60 people were involved in the workshops.
On June 24, a group of children and adults visited the Competence Center, where they could visit the herbal show garden and prepare spicy salt. After the project assistant, Bákai Magdolna presented the most important rules to be kept at the time of the collection, they went to collect horse-mint on the fields outside the village. The collected herbs were put in the solar energy dryer, on the courtyard of the museum, while they could get acquainted with its operation as well.
The Transylvanian Herb Garden participated at the City Days of Odorheiu Secuiesc (26-28 May) with a large variety of programs. At the event, held in the City Park of Odorheiu Secuiesc, several volunteers have presented their herbal products, but the herb-recognition contest and the spicy-salt preparing workshop were also popular activities.