Multiplier event at Locodeni

In the frame of the Eco-Motive project, Civitas Foundation from Odorheiu Secuiesc organizes a course in the topic of propagation and grafting of fruit trees. The place of the event is Locodeni where in partnership with LIA Foundation will be developed a traditional orchards on ecological principles.

VI. Fruit Festival of Odorhei Region,19 - 21 September 2014.

Civitas Foundation for Civil Society will organize from 19 to 21 September 2014 the 6th Fruit Festival of Odorhei Region.

You are welcome!

„Székelygyümölcs” was presented in Ukraine

1-3 April in Antalovici (Ukraine) took place the 4th Workshop for regional development in Carpatian basin. The workshop was organized by CESCI (Central European Service for Cross-border Initiatives). The main theme was: Local value, local and regional development based on local value.

For a more humane and sustainable future

Organized by Civitas Foundation for Civil Society and the Székelygyümölcs Association, The Fruit Festival of Odorhei had twice many visitors as the previous edition.

Traditional sapling planting in the Nyikó Valley

Civitas Foundation launched several initiatives to preserve the natural resources of the Odorhei Region.
1. Introduction
The Civitas Foundation has initiated a regional, community-based economic development plan in the villages of Udvarhely Seat. The purpose of this initiative is to embrace the farmers and small producers, set an example and provide assistance in making their communities more sustainable and provide local livelihood by taking care for the traditional orchards and by making use of fruit based products.
2. The Region
Udvarhely Seat is mainly a hilly region, where livestock breeding and fruit growing has been the predominant source of income for centuries. Fruit growing is a specific activity to the lower hills of Udvarhely Seat, the southern and south-western parts of the region.  There are several fruit types that are characteristic to different villages. Accordingly, Oroszhegy is renowned for it’s “pálinka” (plum brandy);
Szentkirály, Tibód, Szenttamás and Székelyszentmihály for their dried plums; Sükõ, Farcád and Küsmőd for the local cherries, while Homoródalmás, Rugonfalva, Székelyszentmihály, Firtosváralja, Tarcsafalva, Tordátfalva and Farkaslaka are known for their apples and pears. Typical to the higher hills and mountains is the presence of forest fruits, which provide to the farmers raw materials not only for homemade jam, dried fruits and syrups, but are also used for tea as well as for medicine purposes.
3. Background of the initiative
In the 1970’s the state has launched an intensive fruit growing program, which caused to have a very harmful effect on the natural diversity of the region and caused almost the complete extinction of the native fruit varieties.
Accordingly, it is an imperative to re-launch the tradition based farming activities, which would boost the region’s local spirit of enterprise, and by marketing the local products, the fruit growing will turn into a profitable occupation.
The beginnings of the project is dated to the summer of 2008, when we have made preliminary information recordings in those villages of Udvarhely Seat that, due to their favourable geographical locations, are rich in traditional fruit varieties. There are villages where should be find more than 40 different types of apples, pears, cherries, sour cherries etc.  Unfortunately the places of cultivation (homegardens and traditional orchards) are in a very neglected conditions now. 
The people have less opportunities to market the fruits.
Traditional farming knowledge is becoming disappeared due to the decreasing number of elderly people. During their childhood they were taught at school how to graft, cut and take care of trees. Passing on their valuable knowledge and experience is endangered, at the moment.
4. Purposes
The Fruits of Our Traditions project, launched in 2009 has two main objectives:
  • to save and to reveal the value of the old fruit types, and to motivate their cultivation;
  • to increase the profitability of traditional agriculture by processing the locally grown fruits; 
5. Activities
In order to accomplish the above mentioned objectives, the following activities will be performed:
a. Mapping and analyzing the structure of native orchards of Udvarhely Seat’s settlements. The emphasis will be upon the villages that have the oldest and the most diverse resources. The gathered information will become a consistent part of an educational material.
b. A Training Package will be compiled for the local farmers. The one year training activity is focused on the next main subjects:
  •  community-based local development of rural areas;
  • knowledge on traditional fruit types, methods for cultivation and propagation;
  • economic value and marketing opportunities of native fruit varieties;
  • traditional processing according to food hygiene standard.
c. Business Concept Packages will be prepared and continuously updated for every fruit product. This will include the results of market researches, feasibility studies, development proposals as well as the description of marketing strategies. During training, the Packages will be presented, and the participants should became familiar with its method of practical use.
d. A Resource Center for Rural Development will be developed. That will be a place to provide consultation and continuous assistance for the concerned fruit growers and processors regarding the following spheres of interests:
  • setting up and management of agricultural business;
  • preparation of local products (raw materials, technology, tools, packaging, etc.);
  • revealing agricultural and rural development project funding opportunities and preparation of applications;
  • prospecting market opportunities and intermediation.
e. A small processing unit, so called Open Kitchen will be created in Udvarhely Seat. One of the main obstacles of processing and marketing of traditional products for the sale purposes is the lack of processing units that can provide adequate conditions for food-hygiene requirements. In order to remediate the lack, will be created a local kitchen (small processing facility) where the female farmers can prepare specific and flavoured products based on their own traditional recipes, by complying with the required safety conditions. This will lead to the creation of a diverse range of products, which can be easily correlated with a certain fruit type, settlement and even person. Therefore the consumer should identify the peculiarity of the product, and by this to increase the value of it. The product will thus become personalized. 
f. Best practices and positive examples will be collected and disseminated. During the training inland and foreign examples will be presented, mainly about how should be generated  and sustained successful economic developments, based on local conditions and communities endowments. By this, there will be a contribution to the development of the region’s self-deployment capacity, as well as to the enhancement of the entrepreneurial spirit of rural farmers.
g. Informative and advertising materials will pe prepared.
h. Exercise Booklets will be prepared for the young people and children, to assist them to get information and to be able to reflect on the values of the fruits grown in their natural environment. 
i. A Product Promotion Catalogue will be prepared in order to present the fruit products, their place of origin, as well as the contact details of the producers.
j. Community events will be implemented to connect and encourage all interested stakeholders for fruit growing and processing in order to improve the cooperation among the region’s villages of Udvarhely Seat. 
k. Every year will be organized the Udvarhely Seat Fruit Festival, which will be an appropriate means for buyers to have an opportunity to get acquainted with and get the taste of the local fruits and products.
6. Communities involved in the project
The project will involve the participation of at  least 10 communities engaged for traditional fruit cultivation. In addition, the long term commitment for such adding value activities will also influence the involvement in the project. 
7. Expected results
  1. At least 10 local communities involved in the project.
  2. At least 20 farmers trained. 
  3. One local Processing Unit  will be setup.
  4. At least 15 new „Székelygyümölcs - Szekler Fruit” marked local products products  will enter onto the market. 
  5. The importance of fruit cultivation will be disseminated to the public.
  6. The fruit growers will have an additional source of income.
  7. The value of healthy local products will be rediscovered. 
  8. An essential contribution will be provided to the maintenance of traditional landscape management and natural diversity.
8. Partners
Agora Working Group for Sustainable Development 
Academic Society of Târgu Mureș
MÜTF Association
Hungarian Farmers’ Association in Romania
Local fruit types have been developed and survived until now thanks to the thoughtful labor of our ancestors.   
It is now up to us to assure that our grandchildren can also enjoy the world of tastes, aromas and flavors that the crops of these fruit trees can offer!