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PEATS Romania – Environmental Skills

Dates: 14th March – 14th April 2018
Number of UK Participants: 6
Duration: 32 days

The placement is hosted by “Satul verde”, an organization that works in traditional skills, cultural heritage, arts, environment and nature conservation.  The placement will take place in Girbovita, Alba county.

The itinerary for 2017 includes:

1) Vine pruning – the first pruning of the year is used to favour the strongest of the new shoots. This activity is important to develop an understanding of plant health, identifying strong lead shoots and practising the cutting of shoots to promote growth and minimise disease risk. During the vine pruning action, participants will develop an understanding of the significance of vines and grape production in the local economy and rural tradition. They will work alongside a team of local people and will be assigned mentors.

The vine pruning will be interspersed with lime painting of fruit tree trunks to protect against various insect pests. This is an important activity in regions with a strong tradition of fruit production. Participants will learn about the pests and diseases which can attack fruit trees and how to recognise symptoms of damage from biotic and abiotic factors. All of this practical work, combined with training and input from experienced workers, will assist in the development of understanding of tree physiology and sustainable orchard management.  Also during this vineyard week in Girbovita, the students will do some investigation of wild plants that are used for ‘seasonal foods’ – i.e., ‘celendine soup’.

Week 1 will include a detailed induction session.

 

 

2) Tree planting & grafting. Working with local trainer Ionel, the students will learn how to protect original local fruit varieties by grafting onto prunus & malus root stock. As well as developing practical skills in tree grafting, they will gain an understanding of why certain species are grafted and why particular root stock is chosen (strong growth, disease resistance etc). Linked to this, & in conjunction with a local nursery, they plant some traditional fruit tree varieties. The tree planting will include discussion and training on the practicalities of planting trees including depth of planting, planting method (notch or pit planting), tree spacing and species mixtures (again linked to productivity and disease limitation). After care of new plantings will also be discussed. During this week, the group will also do some pollarding, learning about suitable species for pollard and coppice cutting with good vegetative regeneration (such as willow) as well as the uses of harvested pollard shoots and poles. The group may also make traditional woven fences.

Participants will meet the representative of Alba hunting association to hear about hunting in Romania, wild animals & habitat, etc. depending on availability they could take a tour to see some forest places  used as feeding points for wild animals, also see wild animals in their habitat. Cultural visits over the weekend.

 

3) Food crops The group will help in the preparation and planting of food crops and sustainable organic gardening. At this time of the year, they will raise seedlings (brassicas, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines) in lazy beds for planting as well as preparing the ground for & planting potatoes. This is an ideal opportunity for participants to develop understanding of sustainable food production in a rural setting. They will develop an understanding of particular species and their growth habits/needs, rotation of crops, after planting care as well as yields. They will be encouraged to consider transferability of these methods to their own regions both for local sustainable groups as well as on an economic level (market gardens, farmers markets…). They will learn about small scale (smallholding level) crop planning and how to make best use of small parcels of land considering a wide variety of factors such as climate, soil type and final market for products.

4) Path Design The group will help in designing a footpath /trail around the village to take in natural & cultural sites. They will do this with a team of local people with supervision and training from Satul Verde. The participants will develop practical skills in footpath construction and waymarking (including making steps and small bridges) as well as considering issues of accessibility. With the villagers, they will also work with a local conservation group on the clean up of a local river. This is a significant habitat restoration project, to improve the watercourse for wildlife. During practical work, participants will learn about riparian zone management and the significance of watercourses in the landscape, not only for aquatic wildlife but also as natural ecological corridors, used by other
animals to migrate and move between other habitats.

Note: activities could intermingle & be carried out in a different order, subject to weather conditions & availability of people we’ll be working with.

During the 4 week placement participants will take part in the daily activities in a traditional farm. These include feeding & looking after farm animals (rabbits, cows, pigs, chickens), making cheese, yoghurt & kefir, baking bread in a wooden –lit oven.

The working programme is Monday to Friday. Weekends are off and the host will organise cultural days & trips. Previous visits included the towns of Sibiu & Sighisoara, the salt mines in Turda, the Huniazi castle in Sighisoara, but also hiking in the surrounding landscape.

Accommodation will be in the village or in the nearest town (which is 10 miles away from the village) in a self catering house/flat.

Funding

The EU Erasmus + funding will cover return UK flights, insurance, accommodation and food. Participants will need their own funds for personal purchases.

If this placement interests you, then please read through the information on the PETS environmental main page . You will find the application form is available to download on this page, as is the “Quality Commitment” which all applicants have to read

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission

This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.