Author Archives: Coline Vanlaeys

Camptier (participatory workcamp) 2021

From July 12 to 31, Ermitaj invites you to participate in its first “camptier”!

The idea of ​​the “camptier” comes to us from Pascal Depienne, professor of permaculture, and his French association “Terre-Paille & co”:

“The ‘camptier’ is a self-managed participatory worksite, we facilitate the transmission of know-how in natural construction and we share a rich moment of life with our participants. We carry out all the collective tasks, whether it is the kitchen or the dishes (the food is provided), and we only work 6 hours a day with one day off per week. This experience allows a completely informal and free education while encouraging the development of each one and the discovery of a permacultural way of life. We also share other activities such as bread-making, gardening, harvesting, processing, or simply time for games and rest, hence the name CAMPTIER. ”

This year, at the Ermitaj, we have decided to organize our first real “camptier”, which will last three weeks, and during which we will work on the exterior aspect of the barn, and its multipurpose space in which we organize most of our courses and events.
We want to take this opportunity to experiment and share several plaster and finish techniques based on natural materials (clay, straw, sand, lime, wood).
The idea is to have a pleasant, beautiful, functional place, and at the same time to experiment and show different natural building techniques!


Here is an idea of ​​the program (we may not do everything … it will depend on the number of participants and how fast we move forward!):

For the AAC block part (the current donkey house):
– interior wall (South) in clay-straw plaster, cob frame for the whiteboard + cob shelf
– east wall: ‘fake’ cord-wood (fixings of wooden washers and lime-clay-sand plaster between them)
– North and West walls => clay-lime-sand plaster or wood cladding

For the wooden part (the current workshop):
– remove the polystyrene plates from the east and north facade (will be used to insulate from the inside and / or for other uses) – wooden sign “Ermitaj Malin” on the east facade
– Filling of the holes between the wooden planks from the inside with light clay straw
– Installation of second hand windows

Creative finishing plaster on the wall in ‘torchi thai’ (made in 2019 during the PDC with Pascal Depienne) – manufacture and installation of a wooden door

 In practice:

– The camptier will take place from July 12 to 31 (arrival July 11 and departure August 1)
– It’s free!
– We ask participants to register (by email), and to stay at least one week (we ask, if possible, that arrivals and departures take place on Sundays)
Camping accommodation (a few places in dormitory will nevertheless be available – first come, first served!), with dry toilets and outdoor shower.
The Ermitaj provides the food (vegetarian), but the cooking (as well as the dishes and the maintenance of common areas) will be self-managed by the participants
– Every morning we will start with a briefing to determine the different tasks and working groups.
– We will work 6 hours a day, 6 days a week.

Thank you for reading and agreeing to Ermitaj’s Internal regulation. 

The number of participants will be limited to 20 people present simultaneously.

Prior registration required:

Please specify the duration of your stay (arrival and departure date), send us any comments (special diet, health problem, allergy, etc.), and do not hesitate to tell us about your experiences and / or skills that could be valued during the camptier!

Some illustrations of different projects around the world, to give an idea of the creative and aesthetic potential of clay-based constructions and plasters:

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?


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