Community Supported Agriculture budding in Poieni!
This summer, AMURTEL Romania started up a Community Supported Agriculture project at our farm in Poieni, near to our Panatau projects in the rural countryside of Buzau county. The project aims to increase the self-sufficiency of our Familia AMURTEL children’s home and Fountain of Hope after-school center, by growing our own food. This would reduce our costs, as well as providing high quality organically grown vegetables to the children benefitting from our programs.
The farm is also a social insertion project, designed to offer work experience to the young adults in our Vistara socio-professional integration progam. These young people are leaving the protected care system of Familia AMURTEL, and in the future other such projects. Our experience has demonstrated that this process goes more smoothly if they have opportunities to gain practical work experience before entering directly into a competitive job market. This summer, Catalin worked at the farm as our first Vistara worker.
The project was made possible due to the enthusiastic involvement of a dynamic agronomist, Gabi Corbu, who volunteered his time designing the plan and supervising our workers. He also gathered together the initial group of Community Supported Agriculture consumers, from a group of activists in Bucharest. Parents from the Rasarit kindergartens also supported the initiative by signing up as members, paying an advance and a fixed price throughout the growing season in exchange for a weekly basket of vegetables.
It was a difficult summer due to intense heat and drought that damaged agricultural productivity throughout Romania, including our crops. The local community#039;s water supply ran out, and we were unable to irrigate the crops for a few weeks – during which time we raised some emergency funds and constructed a well. We found a natural spring that was still flowing even in the midst of the drought, and were able to direct the water towards the well where it fills up rapidly. We also created a rainwater catchment system to direct water into an old dried up well near to the house. We have written a project proposal and have hopes to receive funding to install a drip irrigation system in the springtime, which would help to reduce the impact of droughts which have been frequently affecting the area in the past few years.
However, despite the obstacles, the farm managed to produce more than 1000 kg of fruits and vegetables which were delivered to the CSA members in weekly vegetable baskets. We had 14 members that stayed with us through the whole season, and 20 in total (there wasnt enough production during the drought to cover all of the baskets).
This autumn, we have ploughed the entire farmland (we only cultivated about 1/3 of the surface area this summer), enriching the earth with 12 tons of well composted manure from a local horse farm. We also held a workshop “Putting the garden to bed for the winter – preparations for autumn in organic agriculture.” Professor Lagunovschi-Luchian Viorica from the Faculty of Horticulture from the University of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences of Bucharest led the workshop together with Gabi Corbu, our agronomist volunteer. We had twenty participants, from other NGOs, the local community, Vistara youth and Bucharest. The practical component of the workshop involved constructing a raised bed – a special technique of organic agriculture that creates a favorable microclimate by burying wood and organic in the middle of a raised bed, which slowly decomposes into compost, attracting microorganisms that enrich the soil. The buried wood also regulates the moisture of the soil by absorbing excess water during heavy rain and releasing water through evaporation from the wood during dry periods.
Currently we are fundraising to cover the costs for constructing a greenhouse that will allow us to begin producing vegetables earlier this season.
Thank you for our support!