Author Archives: Coline Vanlaeys

2 days Introduction to permaculture

From May 22 to 23, 2021, we are organizing a weekend of introduction to permaculture with Radu Craciun, from the Romanian permaculture association.

The course will be given in Romanian, and will be followed by a course in permaculture design methods from May 29 to June 1.

Between the two events, participants have the opportunity to stay at the Ermitaj and volunteer there.

For more information, we invite you to consult the page in Romanian.

Newsletter Spring 2020

What’s going on at Ermitaj??
Like most of the world, our plans for 2020 have been somehow… turned upside down!
At the start of the year, we announced our season agenda with enthusiasm, and it was a busy one!
In early March, the health crisis took hold in Europe, and the first confinement-related measures were implemented in Romania. Optimism then gradually gave way to uncertainty and a feeling of fatality.
But who says fatality means despair?
In terms of uncertainty, we quickly decided to cut it short by canceling all of our events until the fall. Despite the disappointment, we experienced this as a relief: instead of being dependent on external factors and political decisions, we turned the situation to our advantage and took over. Goodbye fatality!
The constraint then became an opportunity: taking advantage of it to work on aspects of Ermitaj’s project that are not related with welcoming people, and at the same time to improve our resilience.
Resilience… a term that is familiar to us, and which resonates a lot !
In other words, this is the perfect opportunity to work on the other strings that we want to have in our bow … The story of not putting all our eggs in the same basket, if you prefer 🙂
And this resilience, it concerns many aspects at Ermitaj:
Human resilience, by finally taking the time to schedule the meetings necessary to clarify our social and administrative organization, and to make collective life as harmonious as possible. Because it is well known that the Precious Human Factor is a primordial aspect in a project like ours.
Energy resilience, by taking the time to improve our water storage and distribution systems. But also by continuing to insulate the buildings, while improving the heating possibilities …
Food resilience, by expanding the vegetable garden, taking care of our orchards, improving our methods of preserving food, and improving our knowledge on foraging and cooking edible wild plants.
And of course financial resilience, by taking the time to develop our personal/group projects, with the objective of achieving a certain economic viability on the spot. According to the person, it will be: market gardening, consultancy and design in permaculture, picking and drying herbal tea plants, building solar dryers for drying fruits and vegetables, wood working, metal working (forge and welding), as well as the increase in our (late) scything areas, while enhancing the biodiversity of our meadows.
A whole program, isn’t it? No time to be bored 😉
And we are happy to be able to have a good time together despite the confinement … which one more advantage of living a collective project!
We must admit that we are looking forward to receiving visitors and volunteers again …
Because meeting and sharing are a big part of Ermitaj’s purpose!
Until we can welcome you again, we promise to take more time to share our activities on social networks, in particular via video content. So, stay tuned ! 😉
Take care of yourself … and of your resilience! 

Newsletter winter 2019-2020

The 2020 season is already on the horizon … and a year has passed since the last newsletter! We apologize for this long silence, which doesn’t mean that we had nothing to say, but quite simply that we preferred to spend time on the land rather than behind our screens.

But we will catch up for this, we promise: we have made for you a little overview of the past year, and a very busy program for the coming year!

What happened in 2019

We will remember the two flagship events of the year, very successful, and which left us wonderful memories:

Click the picture to access the article

Click the picture to access the article

  • We welcomed many volunteers, friends and visitors throughout the year. A big thanks to all of them for the beautiful moments of joy and sharing, and especially for their motivation and their precious help at the Ermitaj!

We would like to thank them one by one in this newsletter as we are so grateful to them, but it would become endless! We would like to thank in particular Yann and Salomé, who stayed with us for more than 3 months, and who, in addition to holding their internship and their precious help on the farm, took a very active part in the organization of events!

  • To finish the overview, here are some photos of our activities and achievements in 2019:

What will happen in 2020? 

Spring is getting closer, and we have plenty of projects!

Many courses and workshops are scheduled this year! Here is an overview:

Spring 2020:

  • From April 25 to 26: spring claca – let’s get ready with the garden!
  • From May 9 to 10: weekend on wild edible plants (in Romanian language)
  • From May 23 to 24: weekend of introduction to permaculture (in Romanian language)
  • From May 24 to 27: week of volunteering around permaculture
  • From May 28 to 31: design method course in permaculture (in Romanian language)

Summer 2020:

  • From July 18 to 19: summer claca – haymaking
  • From July 25 to 26 (date to be confirmed) : workshop on herbal tea plants and their medicinal properties (in Romanian language + possible intervention in French / English)
  • From August 24 to September 5: Certificated Permaculture Design Course with Mark Shiperlee and Tudor Petrutiu (in English)

Fall 2020:

  • Workshop weekend about natural cosmetics and preparations based on medicinal plants (in Romanian language + English translation possible) – to be confirmed
  • Course about Food forest (in Romanian language) – to be confirmed
  • From October 3 to 4: fall claca – fruit harvesting and tree planting

For more information on the events at Ermitaj, consult our agenda regularly, which will be updated as we go!

What else? 

In the garden: we have planned to focus on the development and extension of the new vegetable garden located downstream of the land, and the establishment of a small garden dedicated to aromatic and medicinal herbs.

Food preservation: two different models of solar dryers will be built in the spring for fruits, and a space dedicated to drying plants will be created. Emphasis will be placed in particular, through experiments and workshops, on wild and medicinal plants: picking, cultivation, drying and preparation of remedies (balms, oils, tinctures, herbal teas)

Construction sites: improve and create fences and paths, natural plasters on the walls of the barn, maintenance and minor work in the big house (replacement of a roof), transforming an old van into a tiny house

… And don’t forget that our donkeys are waiting for you to go hiking! Contact us if you are tempted, and we will create a tailor-made stay for you 🙂

See you soon?


Convergence of Permaculture in Romania 2019

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, freely translated from Romanian.


Permaculture Design Course 2019


Un mic filmulet al PDC-ului de anul acesta, facut de profesorul Pascal Depienne.A short aftermovie of 2019 PDC made by Pascal Depienne, the professor of the PDC.

Publiée par Asociatia Româna de Permacultura sur Dimanche 7 juillet 2019


Nine years after the first Permaculture Design Course in Romania, followed by two other courses in the years 2011-2012, at Ermitaj Malin we had once again the honor to have as a teacher Pascal Depienne from Terre Paille et Compagnie , for a PDC organized between May 25th and June 5th in the same location. As we have been accustomed to in previous years, Pascal supported two weeks of intensive teaching in permaculture, during which he covered a wide range of this concept.

The rich amount of knowledge gained in Pascal’s 14 years of Permaculture practice and the  assistants-teachers (Mark Shipperlee, an expert in forest management in England, Tudor Petruţiu, president of the Romanian Permaculture Association and Remy and Coline from Ermitaj) brought a complete and diverse package to the PDC curriculum.

In Pascal’s approach, there were theoretical aspects that covered areas such as:

– Principles and ethics of permaculture
– Patterns and templates in nature – their application in the permaculture design
– Design tools – zoning, sectors, permanence scale, etc.
– Design Methodologies
– Social permaculture – tools for communication and organization
– Soil – problems and solutions, regeneration, fertility, and so on.
– Regenerative agriculture – large-scale permaculture
– Synergetic Gardening Techniques
– Water – Techniques and strategies for water capture and storage, passive irrigation, etc.
– Trees and forests – their ecological management, vegetative propagation and so on.
– Cultivated ecosystems – forest gardens, agroforestry systems and others
– Animals – their integration into households, efficient growth systems, and so on.
– Natural constructions – design, strategies, materials and techniques, etc.
– Invisible structures – strategies for the development of ecological societies



In addition to the theoretical sides, practical workshops were also introduced:

Stacking functions: double use of the composting process – fertilizer and thermal energy (domestic water heating)
Natural constructions: building a protective wall using the straw-clay technique 
Control structures: Permeable check dams for prolonged water retention and prevention of downstream destructive flooding
Infrastructure: Design of access routes on / around the farm territory and their implementation
Biodiversity: Bats house inspired by the work of the Bats Research and Conservation Center
Vegetative propagation: grafting, cuttings and marcotting workshop
Multi-functionality: redefining existing spaces
Communication: Non-violent communication workshop, talking stick and decision-making by consensus

DSC_8663 DSC_8690








All of this, alongside the fire-evenings, the pizza-party at the oven and the closing evening with its talent/no-talent show, were the ingredients of a succesful PDC.


Throughout the course the participants used the knowledge they gained in order to develop a permaculture design of the farm, at the end of which they presented the developed plan. We had 5 projects structured in a balanced way, including well-integrated elements designed to inspire and broaden the horizon of the permaculture ideas used in the development of Ermitaj Malin.




We are grateful that we have had a nice team of volunteers who cooked for us every day and helped us organize the event. Thanks Yann, Salome, Amael and Dorian! We also want to thank the teachers, the whole team involved in the organization, and especially the participants!



Translated from Romanian. Original article from 

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