“The poetry of the earth is never dead.”
Dear lovers of nature, arts and music,
Overwhelmed by lovely people, the colors of fall and the silence of the mountains it was difficult for us to sit down and write this letter, but here it is, baptized by the first magnificent snow blizzard of the winter. We publish a newsletter once a year to keep you informed about our activities, this time of the season 2014, our projects and events. Once again we finish a busy but wonderful season, the details of which you can see below.
This season community outreach has become one of our main focuses, especially since our neighbors are getting older and the work seems to be getting more for them. Unfortunately these traditional farmers have no internet, cannot speak a foreign language and live in a very isolated area, therefore they cannot easily benefit from volunteer programs that are currently set up in Romania. Therefore this year during the summer time we took the initiative and organized several groups of volunteers. These helpers were paired up with neighboring families to help them with the seasonal hay work. As little as three helpers make a great difference during the hay work season. We organized over fifteen helpers per day, reaching out to five different families in our community, all small traditional self sufficient farmers. By us taking this initiative once again we reinforced our beliefs in community sufficient living and helped the members of the community help each other.
Besides giving helping hands whenever needed, in the spirit of gift economy and community outreach the Organic Art Ranch has started offering English classes to locals this season. Our English classes are held at our communal room for learners of any age. Gift economy is a non monetary approach: we accept home produce from the locals, this way increasing the value of their products, as well as retaining dignity by not having charity be the answer.
In order to support local farmers and the local community we used the volunteers’ contribution to buy local produce that farmers are unable to sell. For example we bought almost 300 liters of milk from our neighbor, a widowed mountain man with two cows, and over 250 eggs over the summer season from another neighbor who has less than a dozen free range chickens. We supported our local bakery with over 150 loaves of bread, and many kilos of homemade butter and cheese made by a sweet old lady in the village supplemented our own homemade dairy products.
Guest, Helpers and Volunteers
During the year 2014 we had over a hundred people at the Organic Art Ranch, exceeding the number of any previous year. We had our first volunteer from Bangladesh, and most of our helpers this year came from far away such as the USA ( mainly New York), Australia, Canada and Japan.
During this year we had the pleasure to host very intriguing people, including two writers who worked on their novels and short stories during their stay, and a graphic designer and illustrator who enjoyed the quietness of nature to create her art. We are proud to have hosted art being born. We enjoyed the mischievous music nights with the scout group Pau Claris from Catalonia, who also made a video that you can watch on YouTube, eight minutes that capture the essence of July at the Organic Art Ranch. ( http://youtu.be/TFLBYzzOsbY )
This was also the year when we had the most events until now, and had great times with creative people from our country and abroad. Our fashion workshops are still the most popular ones, but the highlight of the year was the Festival of Light, our Beatles retro party where we played music all night around the campfire and danced under the Milky Way. We also held our first Bird Watching Weekend, a fantastic experience for us and a great opportunity to learn more about our neighboring winged inhabitants.
We extended both our upper garden and the lower garden this year. We have also adopted some permaculture methods together with some local traditional gardening methods. Our new vegetables that we experimented with this year in our mountains climate were brussel sprouts, globe artichokes, Japanese mustard, ginkgo biloba trees and poppies. Despite the heavy and constant summer rain that damaged some of our crops we had an abundant tomato harvest in the greenhouse, sweet pumpkin harvest, and plenty of garden greens that we could enjoy until mid December and which probably will keep on growing. We increased our bio seed collection this year, we are still doing seed exchange, contact us if you are interested. We have a large selection of ecological herb seeds, tomato seeds, and hardy greens seeds as well as some rare varieties.
We finished some projects from last season, and started new ones. Our Garden Room is now open, this is our newest room, renovated entirely with ecological traditional methods. It has a view towards the garden and the forest in the background. We also finished our Humanure Outhouse, a privy with a view to the sunrise. Our future Iibrary/art studio is still under construction. Other projects that we finished is the new woodshed made entirely out of recycled wood. We started our cob insulation work around the little house, lime wash painting and renovation in the main house, and several art projects. Soon we will also update our website with new plans for the year of 2015, new ideas and projects.
Special thanks for all the helpers and guests who shared their days and hard working hands with us, who inspired us and sang with us around the campfire. You helped us in many ways this year and we are grateful for the moments spent together. We are very grateful that we found new friends and created bonds with people who traveled so far to join our community. Thank you and we will be back next year with more events and projects. Hope to see you next season!
The Organic Art Ranch
Zsuzsi and Roger