13-14 May was the date of the first Góbé Festival in Manchester. The festival was organized on the Albert Squire, in the city center. Besides the cultural performances, a handicraft fair was held, where more than ten thousand visitors could have a look at the local products of Szeklerland. At the Transylvanian Herb Garden’s tent the British visitors could be introduced to the herbal products of several medicinal plant producers from Transylvania.
On 28th of April 2017, a part of the Cluj team worked very enthusiastic on the setting up of an experimental show garden for medicinal plants and herbs. They sow the seeds and planted the seedlings of the different plants together and the result was a garden created through community work full with mint, rosemary, savoury, sage, basil and lavender. During these activities they were talking about optimal cultivation conditions, summarized the tasks of taking care of the garden, the most important processes of the harvest and processing and also discussed the health benefits of medicinal and aromatic plants.
Cowslip (Primula veris), also known as cuy lippe, herb peter, paigle etc. is one of the earliest flowering collectible medicinal plants and it is considered the symbol of spring. On 27th April 2017 the youngsters of the LIA Foundation had the opportunity to participate in a workshop and learn about the relevant quality aspects of the sustainable collection and drying of this plant and about the health benefits of the infusion which can be prepared of it. The plants collected together were stored at the drying place and after their primary processing they will be used as basic ingredient for different herbal teas.
The Transylvanian Herb Garden Association was founded on 7th April 2017 with the occasion of a workshop held at the head office of the Civitas Foundation, with 46 founding members. The participants discussed and elaborated the Statute and Founding Charter of the association. The duty of the association is to carry out the community objectives of the project through the sustainable collection and processing of medicinal and aromatic plants. Beside the representation of the member’s interests an important objective is to promote the processing of medicinal and aromatic plants in order to develop a sustainable agriculture. In the elaboration of the association’s program and its activities it is always an important aspect the integration of the disadvantaged people.
On 20-21st March 2017 we organized a workshop in order to develop a strategy for the cooperation between the Swiss and the Romanian organizations.
On behalf of our project partner, the Biodynamic Agricultural Association Susanne Küffer Heer was present and from the Swiss Ekkarthof Association Karl-Heinz Amann.
Besides the organizations involved in the project, representatives of several institutions and organizations from Romania (Hargita County Agricultural Directorate, Odorheiu Secuiesc Mayor’s Office, Forestry Office of Zetea, DJC-Domus Foundation from Cristuru Secuiesc, Miere de Câmpie Agricultural Cooperative, Élő Szövet Foundation, Ribes Association, Wolter Foundation, Szekler Fruit Association, Prodplant Impex Ltd., Csaba Szakács, biodynamic farmer ) have been involved in the elaboration of the strategies for the cooperation. As a result of the meeting the main guidelines of the cooperation were set, a draft of the strategy was drawn up, which will be finalized by the project’s team.
On 13th March 2017 we held a press conference where we presented a 30 min. long documentary film about the activities of the project. The film was made by the staff of the Székelyföldi Studio: Jakab Endre and Fecső Zoltán. The shortmovie presents the most important moments of the project considering the trainings and the knowledge transfer, it shows the beauty of the nature of this region and it reproduces the atmosphere of the main events, such as: the Barock Festival of Bonchida, the Open Day in Locodeni, the Fruit Festival of Odorhei Region and it introduces the people involved in the project. All the opinions lead us to a single conclusion: this initiative of the Civitas Foundation is a very useful one, the Transylvanian Herb Garden has made good progress.
On the DVD, besides the original Hungarian version of the film, there is a Romanian, English and German subtitled version as well, which we are going to give to different educative institutions and NGOs in order to spread the vision which is represented by our Herb Garden.
As Kolumbán Gábor, the president of the Civitas Foundation says in the film ”being preoccupied with medicinal plants can have a mentality changing effect and there is a good chance, that our illness and medicine focused, consumer’s society will turn into a society whose goal is to stay healthy and prevent illnesses by a healthier way of living.”
On 10th March 2017 the participants of the Medicinal Plants Training Course living in Odorhei Region held their first meeting at the head office of the Civitas Foundation. Although the training course consisting of 11 sessions is already finished, the participants discussed and summarized the experiences gained last year and made plans about continuing the trainings and worked on the elaboration of the strategy of the Competence Center in Locodeni, within the frames of a workshop. Amongst the future plans was the founding of the Transylvanian Herb Garden Association, which will happen on 7th April, on their next meeting. In the future there will be a monthly thematic meeting, the first already in April, with the goal of exchanging medicinal plants seeds and seedlings.
It is hard for our body to cope with the long, cold winter days, but the onion, which is known in folk medicine as a remedy against cold, can help us. Onion is one of the most popular vegetables, being not only a food but also an important herb, which contains a large amount of vitamins and valuable minerals (calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, vitamins B and C). Due to its sulphur content, which gives its typical, pungent taste and smell, it has bactericidal effects, which are very important when our body is fighting against infections. Its therapeutic effects are more pronounced when it is consumed raw but onion tea is also very effective against cold, flu, tonsillitis and pharyngitis. Here are some recipes:
Basic onion tea:
- From 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar, make a light caramel
- Mix it with half a liter of water
- Add the outer shells of two red onions.
- When the mixture boils, remove it from the oven and let it cool for fifteen minutes.
Onion tea with whole onions:
- Boil 0.5 litre of water, then add two onions (with their outer shells).
- Cook it for 15-20 minutes, filling in permanently the quantities of water evaporated.
- When the mixture cools down, sweeten it with honey.
Onion tea with ginger:
Ingredients: 5 slices of ginger, 2 small onions, 2 teaspoons (or two bags) of green tea, 850 ml of water, a pinch of salt
- Wash and cut the ginger and the onions as follows: cut 5 slices of ginger and dice the onions.
- Place the ginger, onion and the green tea in a medium-sized bowl.
- Pour the boiling water on the ingredients in the bowl.
- Leave it for 3-4 minutes,
- Strain it and let it cool down to the right temperature!
Sources: teaunnep.hu, eletmodszer.com, gyogyteak.hu, gyogynovenyek-gyogyteak.com, hazipatika.com
For our traditional Christmas dishes and drinks or even for the festive decorations, we often use spices which, besides their appearance and flavour, help us prevent or treat various diseases.
Cinnamon is one of the oldest household spices and herbs, its healing properties being already known to the ancient civilizations. In the Nile Valley, people created cinnamon ointments or they used it in large quantities for oil lamps and as an aphrodisiac. Cinnamon is already known to improve digestion and mood as well as for its antioxidant properties but recently it was discovered that it also reduces both LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels. As cinnamon has antispasmodic effects and improves digestion, it can efficiently treat bloating, intestinal cramps, nausea and stomach problems. Due to its active ingredients with antioxidant and disinfectant properties, it is also very efficient against gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. In the 12th century, Saint Hildegard frequently used cinnamon to treat cold and flu. Perhaps due to its effects in improving digestion, it is almost mandatory to eat cinnamon cookies after consistent Christmas meals.
The modern history of vanilla begun in the 16th century when the Aztecs discovered that under the impact of heat and humidity, the inedible fruits of an orchid species acquire celestial flavour. They called it “black flower” and demanded the finest vanilla pods as tax from the Totonac people, who were experts in their cultivation. In 1518, Cortez tasted the vanilla-flavoured chocolate drink of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma and he loved it so much that he brought entire sacks of cocoa and vanilla to Europe. More than fifty years later, Spanish factories began to manufacture vanilla-flavoured chocolate (cocoa). For a long time, vanilla was only mixed with cocoa, when in the Elizabethan England, at the proposal of pharmacist Hugh Morgan, these two ingredients were separated for the first time. Three hundred years after Cortez’s expeditions, vanilla became more popular than chocolate. This marks the beginning of vanilla’s success, which lasted for centuries and infiltrated the world of gastronomy, conquered the hearts of lovers and the souls of the sick, becoming not only a remedy but also a very popular aphrodisiac. Vanilla improves mood, digestion and it is currently used to increase the appetite of patients receiving chemotherapy. A specific use of vanilla is to diagnose the deterioration of smell in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In South America, vanilla is mixed in tequila to increase the virility of men.
The beneficial effects of clove oil are due to its content of eugenol, caryophyllene and oleanolic acid. It is used to relieve stress, against cold, rheumatism and impotence. In case of toothache, a few drops of clove oil on a gauze will ameliorate the symptoms however, one will not escape the dentist! (In the last century, patients with toothache inserted cloves into the tooth cavities instead of going to the dentist, thus soothing the pain …). It can be also used to relieve cramps.
Anise was popular especially in England, where anise seeds were used to make clothes smell good but is also as a valuable spice. In 1305, anise seeds were subject to an import tax used to maintain the London Bridge. It is an important ingredient in many popular alcoholic drinks such as raki, ouzo and Pernod. Anise essential oil contains trans-anethole, metilcavicol and anise-aldehyde. Anise reduces bloating and the sensation of satiety, it is known for its carminative, antispasmodic effects and to accelerate digestion. Nursing mothers consume this spice to accelerate breast milk secretion. Anise aids biliary excretion and by inhalation or in the form of tea it is an excellent expectorant and cough reliever.
According to the records, nutmeg has been used since the 14th century, when people wore necklaces made from nutmeg beans to protect themselves from the plague. In addition, nutmeg oil was used as a pain reliever, to ease menstrual cramps and gastric problems. Recent studies show that isoeugenol, one of the main active ingredients in nutmeg, has significant antibacterial effects and therefore it is good especially in case of food poisoning. However, excessive consumption (at least 12 tablespoons per day) might have unpleasant side effects such as hallucinations, nausea, palpitations or cramps.
Cardamom is a popular spice especially among gourmets. It is suitable to season fruit cakes or gingerbread. It is the favourite Christmas spice of the Scandinavian people, who use it in different cakes. Arabs season with cardamom their black coffee sweetened with honey. It is a medical plant used since the ancient times.
Sources: kertlap.hu, origo.hu, mindennapi.hu
The penultimate training for volunteers within the frame of the project took place on the 22nd of October 2016. Due to the bad weather conditions it was held at the headquarters of Civitas Foundation. The trainer, Mr. Ferenc Lehel horticultural engineer presented very varied topics to his audience. In the first part of the training the participants got known medicinal and aromatic plants to be cultivated in an herb garden or even on larger fields and earned useful knowledge about their cultivation technologies. One part of these plants can be found in the gardens of the participants, so they could share practical knowledge and experience with each other in an interactive way. Later on they participated in a group exercise that required creativity: groups made of 3-4 persons had the task to plan an herb garden using the newly acquired knowledge. The variety and richness of the gardens planned together, the fruit trees, bushes, diversity of medicinal and aromatic plants blessed the knowledge and wit of the participants. While evaluating the results, the trainer drew the attention of the participants to the main planning and planting point of view, determined not only by esthetical aspect, but the successful cultivation. In the second part of the training the participants learned about weeds growing on herb plantations, as well as about natural protecting methods. At the end of the day the participants considered the presented topics to be very important and they gained lots of new information what they can forward to their group members during the knowledge transmissions.