In the two areas of Romania where it is particularly active, Turda and Târgu Mureș, Slow Food has recently achieved remarkable results in food education.
Slow Food Turda has had great success with its “Go Green, Go Sustainable!” project, based in a new community garden created last spring next to the Turda salt mine, in the Sarea-n Bucate restaurant and in the Crama la Salina vineyard. During the summer vacation, students spent several days a week in the garden, planting, gardening and growing vegetables.
Two food education summer schools and weekly workshops, held at the Turda Gastronomy Center, were run by a team led by Marta Pozsonyi, with the participation of partners in Turda’s twin city of Angoulême in France and in the Slovenian city of Ljubljana. They involved being online simultaneously and cooking local recipes, with training provided on cooking, taste education, gardening, planting, composting, food preservation, harvesting, jam making, biodiversity and more. During the summer, 88 children took part in the activities.
Garden activities in September and October included harvesting and organizing a food festival, which involved many children. Slow Food Turda also ran a workshop on nutrition with 28 pupils from a local school and continued organizing activities throughout October: Good Food Good Farming action days, Disco Soup on World Food Day, meetings with producers and tastings and workshops for children.
Between October 7 and 10, Slow Food Turda took part in Hungary’s major food and agriculture exhibition, OMÉK (https://omek-eng.amc.hu/) in Budapest, representing Turda and Aries Valley in Transylvania. Producers and food educators demonstrated good practices in food education, school canteens and local food heritage promotion. They brought along Turda steak, local wines (www.cramalasalina.ro), Turda red onions (an Ark of Taste product) and local cold-pressed oils. The invitation to attend the fair came from the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture, the leading supporter of the Turda Gastronomic Center and all its educational activities.
Beside the “Go Green, Go Sustainable!” project, part of Slow Food Europe’s 2021 call for ideas, Slow Food Turda was also proud this year to announce the opening of its new Gastronomic Center, a project many years in the making.
For the Slow Food Târgu Mureș Community, 2021 has meant the opening of PermaFLORA, a community forest garden center based on the Slow Food philosophy and the permaculture approach to land-based living. This long-term project is coordinated by the ClaIre association’s Urban Health.
The goal of the center is to create a space of resilience and regeneration, supported by the local community. It will ultimately be home to an annual vegetable garden, a perennial edible forest garden, a seed library, a book library, beehives and a bird observatory. The plan is for the center to be open to visitors from March to October every year. The challenge is to transform an abandoned space in the village of Glodeni, 20 kilometers from the city of Târgu Mureș, into a flourishing edible forest garden, a space for education but also recreation, offering an example of how biodiversity creates strength, health, abundance, beauty and resilience.
In July 2021, the first local Slow Food children’s summer camp was organized at the new PermaFLORA center: five consecutive days of action, with a daily program from 9 to 5, with activities in the garden, visits to the nearby forest and the river, communal meal preparation and encounters with other farms and farmers. The activities were conducted and supervised by two educators. One of the goals was to support vulnerable women from the community, a great opportunity to spread the message of shifting towards a future of good, clean and fair food for all. The costs were fully covered by the Slow Food Community. The camp’s approach was to avoid waste of any kind, teaching children the importance of taking care of natural resources and how to transform what usually is considered waste into a valuable resource. As part of the “Save Bees and Farmers” campaign, one day of the summer camp was dedicated to pollinators and included a visit to one of beekeeper Szabolcs Fogarasi’s apiaries (Szabolcs has only stationary apiaries, all of them located in Mureș county, and his apiaries and processing unit are certified organic). The children had the chance to closely observe the bees and to learn about their life cycle and hive products, why bees are important and how can they protect them. The next day, back at the summer camp in Glodeni, they made flower bombs and dropped them around the forest garden. This was a successful pilot edition for the camp, offering lessons for all involved and serving as evidence that a gentle approach to daily life, with respect for people and nature, can generate a visible shift in the community towards a more just and rewarding way of living, even if on a small scale.
On October 9, the Slow Food Târgu Mureș Community organized its first gathering based on the theme of Slow Food educational gardens, “Everything Gardens in the City: We grow our gardens and our gardens grow us,” a convivial annual meeting that brought together teachers of all levels, educators from alternative educational centers and parents interested in gardening with their children, school gardens and nature education.
“It was such a great meeting,” reported Claudia Rânja, the coordinator of the Slow Food Târgu Mureș Community, immediately afterwards. “The last two years were challenging times for everyone, so we decided to have a celebration, a nourishing gathering of those who are gardening with kids and taking care of this beautiful Earth. We shared inspiring stories, we encouraged each other, we sang, we drew, we shared seeds, we ate good, clean, fair food, we laughed, we made plans for next year.”
In the preparation for the gathering, several meetings with local authorities took place to advocate for edible forest gardens in every school and good, clean and fair food in school canteens. The entire event was organized around the principles of the gift economy.