Author Archives: Coline Vanlaeys

Call for donations for helping and hosting Ukrainian refugees at Ermitaj

Ermitaj responded to the call of GEN – Global Ecovillage Network – to help people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Cantemir, current resident at Ermitaj, is the main contact in Romania for refugees from Ukraine that are also members of GEN

Given the alarming situation and the constant influx of refugees in Romania, we have decided to open our doors at Ermitaj in order to accommodate refugees in transit.

At the moment, we are housing three mothers and seven children coming from Harkov, and more are on their way. We expect to have a constant flux of refugees in the coming weeks, maybe months since we are close to the border. We ask for your help, financially or in any other way. Our needs are mainly for food, but also with medicine and clothes.

In the present moment, every category of Ukrainian refugees is vulnerable, since their national currency has greatly depreciated, and those who do not have foreign currency are left with almost nothing.

How to help us?

  • From Belgium: make a donation on the account of our association

Ermitaj Pe Vale ASBL – IBAN: BE 34 5230 8094 8090 (Triodos bank)
Communication: “help Ukraine” if you want your donations to be used only for the reception and assistance of Ukrainian refugees, or “donation for Ermitaj” if you want the money to be used to develop our projects and infrastructures abroad. ‘Hermitaj more generally.

The money will be used as a priority for the purchase of basic necessities: food, medicines, personal hygiene equipment, second-hand clothes,…

If the amount collected allows us, we will install a small wood stove in a room of the big house, allowing us to increase our housing capacity.

If the money raised exceeds our needs, the rest will be used for solidarity projects, at Ermitaj or elsewhere, depending on the evolution of the situation. In any case, we guarantee full transparency regarding the use of these funds.

  • From Romania: any material help is welcome!

Food, medicine, toilet or hygiene equipment, clothing, children’s games, sawdust for the dry toilets… If you have a wood stove to give away or resell at a low price, or to know the needs of the moment, do not hesitate to contact us! A financial donation is of course also possible.

Thank you for sharing this call around you.

We will keep you informed of the evolution of the situation.

In advance, a huge THANK YOU for your trust and support!

Ermitaj’s team

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!