Appeal for Attila's LifeSchool in Transylvania

Can you help please?

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Appeal for funds for Attila’s Life-school in Gyimes, eastern Transylvania.

We are hoping to raise help £2000 to pay for the new roof for the building which will be Attila Sarig’s ‘Life School’ in Gyimes in eastern Transylvania. Much of the other work has been completed and it is hoped this will be the last major expense.

If 200 EuCAN friends, members and participants on previous placements donated £10 each, (or 400 people £5…) Attila will be able to complete the roof. To make a donation, see below.

What are the aims of the Life School? Agriculture and land use in Romania is changing very rapidly and we in EuCAN Community Interest Company are very keen to support this project which we hope will enable the lives and work of local food producers and small-scale agricultural enterprises to remain sustainable in the changing world.

‘Unproductive’ land all over Romania is being neglected and will soon revert to scrub and forest. Small-scale farmers are finding life extremely tough: many are in debt and are selling up their more productive land to large landowners, while they move to the towns or to other EU countries in the hope that they will find a better chance of employment. The new European CAP has not supported them as was hoped and corruption is rife.

The area is changing fast! On our visit to Transylvania in 2016 we noticed great changes since 2011 and 2012, our previous visits. There are far fewer horses pulling carts; some of them have been replaced by quads, 4×4’s and small-scale slightly higher-tech machines, but many of the subsistence farmers have left the area. Many of the hay meadows are getting encroached by scrub and spruce forest; these new forests may produce money in the long-term but they do not provide food for local families in the short-term. When we camped in the higher meadows last August and cooked supper with the Haymaking Festival group on an open fire, we could look out over the rolling hills and see one other fire on a distant slope. Apparently, we were told, not many years ago there would have been dozens of campfires, as families camped up in their hayfields while they cut and turned the hay and loaded it onto carts to take down to their farms in the lower valleys. It is a way of life that is disappearing…

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Have a look at our photos from this year’s visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/collections/72157671721925740/

Attila’s vision is to create a centre where people can learn how to grow and process food using organic methods, in harmony with Nature, without any of the damaging systems which have harmed ecosystems in many other parts of the world. Cheesemaking has always been an important aspect of subsistence dairy farming in Transylvania but much of the cheese there has a very short life and is not sold for much money. At the Life School participants will be taught how to add value to their dairy products by making hard cheeses that last longer.

In Attila’s words: ‘For example one kg of the soft cheese which they can make now is 10-20 Ron ( = £2- £4) in the market, while one good matured cheese is 40-60 Ron in the market! The difference is huge and I believe that from our meadows we can make very good cheese, a high quality food! This is one of the reasons why I put so much emphasis on cheese!

If we manage to create high quality healthy food from our extensive farms, then we have a chance to stay alive with these extensive systems. The alternative is that we will lose all and the big intensive farms will invade our world and we will lose something that took hundreds of years of hard work by humans and nature to create!!!

 Also in the Life School we want to teach people how to prepare and preserve the food – for the winter time for example! An extremely important target for us is to give the opportunity to people to stay and learn something in our Life School about how much energy we need to make and prepare food, and I am convinced that they will then see more clearly that food has a huge value and will respect it more!!! I am extremely saddened when I see how much food is wasted in rich societies!

Modern humanity doesn’t realise how much energy is needed to produce food and they waste it in a totally crazy way!’

Check out this short film taken by Jenny Parsons at the 2015 Haymaking Festival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6B2nSXFCRY

The Life School aims to offer very reasonably priced training courses to local food producers and subsistence farmers from the area and plans to extend the offer to university students in Romania. There are increasing numbers of tourists visiting the area (including the participants in the Haymaking camp in August every year) and there are also plans to offer courses that cater for them.

How to help: EuCAN CIC would like to help Attila raise the £2000 for the roof of the cheesemaking area of the Life-School. We are collecting the money in the EuCAN bank account initially – please make a payment by BACS with your name and LifeSchool on the reference line. Account Name: EuCAN Community Interest Company;  sortcode: 08.92.99 ,  account no. 65472987.

For payments requiring IBAN and BIC numbers the details of the account are as follows: Name of Account: EuCAN Community Interest Company – address: 346 Mundens Lane, Alweston, Sherborne, Dorset, UK Postcode: DT9 5HU . Co-operative Bank                                                                                     BIC: CPBKGB22     IBAN : GB21CPBK08929965472987

To find out more about the are, please visit the ‘Treasures of Transylvania’ website: http://www.treasuresoftransylvania.org/ .

Quote from the Treasures of Transylvania site: why support this work? These projects aim to protect a very special part of Europe – our last great medieval landscape, rich in flora, fauna and tradition. You can help its inhabitants to make a better living in a modern context while continuing to manage the land sustainably. You can support the development of markets for environmentally friendly produce. You can help us to catalogue and protect the region’s special wildlife and wetland habitats.

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Attila’s home-made salami sausages seasoning in the cellar.