After a 3 years break in the series of convergences of permaculture in Romania, the Romanian Association of Permaculture togheter with Ermitaj Malin took back this tradition, trying to find a new format, beneficial for the movement of the permacuture. The preparations started a week before, to make sure that everything will be as well as possible for our guests: we made provisions of local food, we prepared the group activities, some places of the farm were arranged and even donkeys helped us by mowing the grass!
During three days, and with to the help of a team of volunteers, co-organizers and facilitators, Ermitaj Malin was the theater of many activities, dedicated as well to people already involved in permaculture, as visitors or curious enthusiasts. This edition was an opportunity to raise a big question: “how can we grow the permaculture movement in Romania?” And with the help of people already involved in this movement, we have thought of many solutions. It was also an opportunity for the participants to do some networking, to feed their curiosity, to enjoy nature, and to relax.
Thus, for our great concern, community building activities and exercises were organized to create a space of trust, empathy and freedom of expression at the center of the discussions. We sat in a circle in the shade of the great charm of the Ermitaj and we met (or met again), we opened up, we played. Permaculture manifested itself socially through our meeting.
Together, we co-created a definition of permaculture, clarifying any ambiguity. The mantra for the first day was: “We are all in the same boat!” … on the same road, with similar visions and challenges. So, with all this concentrated energy, we worked together to answer the questions raised during this convergence.
People from different professions were present: urban gardeners, educators, people living off-grid, farmers, eco-builders and designers. With all this diversity of knowledge and experience, we have created a World-Cafe, thanks to which we have generated dozens of ideas, some of which we hope will soon become a reality. A hot topic of discussion was the centralization of the permaculture movement at the national level and the need for local representatives in the different regions of the country. We all agreed that to help the evolution of this movement in the country, the next step would be to synchronize local projects, associations and initiatives in a single national network with local representatives in all regions of the country. Thus, a structure of this type will allow national decisions, the international delegation of representatives of Romanian permaculture and the creation of a unique network of people in permaculture.
At the same time, the prospect of a big meeting in the near future, a permaculture festival that would bring together hundreds of people, professionals and curious, was discussed. Thus, permaculture stakeholders from all regions would come together in a single movement that wants to have a strong impact, creating visibility and arousing growing interest around this concept.
The first two days of convergence were entirely devoted to permaculture and the people already implicated in this movement. The third day was a day when we opened up to all the curious, those who sympathize with the concept of Permaculture, but also those who could not attend the first 2 days, but who are on the map of Permaculture. So there were a lot of key activities and meetings. In addition, the Ermitaj received a surprise visit from the mayor Mr. Constantin Toma from the city of Buzau and the mayor Mr. Mureșan Ioan from the commune of Nușeni, two representatives evoking their interest for Ermitaj Malin project and for the future of the permaculture in Romania. In this perspective, the city of Buzau was presented to us as an actor – beginner but nonetheless important – in the field of permaculture, where large projects of permaculture and circular economy must be implemented.
The activities were organized using the technology of “Open-space”, which means that the program was spontaneously co-created with those present, according to the needs of the group and what each participant had to offer. Soon, the empty board that we posted on the wall at the begining of the day has turned into a coherent and diversified program, with several activities taking place in parallel. The future of the ALPA association was discussed, ecobuilding technics were discussed, projects like Ecoruralis and Cutia Țăranului were presented, a bio-intensive gardening course was organized with the Romanian Permaculture Association, a workshop about plants identification with Permacultură Tureni, and many others.
With all this energy channeled in one direction, that of the development of permaculture in Romania, many great ideas and projects have come to life and will be put into practice thanks to the collaboration of those who want this change. And that makes us happy and motivates everyone to continue on this road, the road at the edge of nature. After all, in permaculture, we don’t just need a handful of people to do great perfect things, but rather, we need everyone’s participation in small steps to make this world a place that respects nature and humans, and that will prosper with all of us.
Text written by Tiberiu Marcu on www.permacultura.ro, freely translated from Romanian.