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Lover Earth: Lets Talk About Money

Lets talk about money. The most obvious manifestation of it being the price of the boxes. I believe that the prices are not good, that they should be higher. However we, here at Cutia Taranului, don’t set prices, nor do we want to. When producers join Cutia Taranului we help them find a price that is right for their box. In the spirit of such guidance, we would like to guide you the members of Cutia Taranului, together with your producers, into a conversation about money and price. It may take some time and require some patience to enter make this conversation meaningful and good, so please bear with us.

Before we jump into this process I’d like to try to give us a context, a kind of lighthouse we can seek out when we get lost in this potentially complicated conversation. I’d like to talk about Mother Earth.

In his book Sacred Economics, Charles Eisenstein talks about the metaphor of Mother Earth. He points out that it is a ubiquitous metaphor that you can find almost anywhere on the planet, across continents, languages, cultures, developed societies, native communities. There are references to Mother Earth everywhere.

Eisenstein places focus on the word „Mother” and it’s implications. The word „Mother” speaks to a child-ish relationship. Whatever a child needs, mother provides. It is a relationship in which giving flows from mother to child. It is a relationship in which receiving may seem obvious … whatever a child needs miraculously appears.  It is also a good description of the relationship between human beings and the planetary ecological system, a not yet matured relationship. Whatever we need we take, with little consideration to the efforts required to produce what we need or to the consequences of producing it. It is indeed a relationship with Mother.

Eisenstein then asks what if what we are witnessing at a planetary scale is a coming of age of humanity? What if humanity is finally stepping out of its rebellious teen phase and maturing into adulthood which brings with it more profound relationships? What if we could focus the almost magical skills & tools that we have acquired in our coming-of-age, and enter a new relationship with the planet? This relationship would be less one-directional and more mutual. The planet would care for us and we would care for the planet. We would no longer be treating her as mother, but more as lover. Lover Earth.

The word for peasant in Romanian is taran (pronounced tsaran) and literally means „man of the earth”. The producers of Cutia Taranului are peasants, people of the earth. They live on (physically) and off (as in „providing”) the land. Their collaboration with the earth yields the food that nourishes you, the members. They are our direct representatives of forming a relationship with earth. They are our partner-lovers to Lover Earth.

It is in this context that I invite you, our members, to reflect about your part in Cutia Taranului and how your participation effects your producers. You have a direct relationship with their well-being. Their well-being directly effects their ability to relate with and be lovers to Lover Earth. What role does money play in that relationship?

  • What makes a price good?
  • How can you tell that the price of your box is right?
  • Is the price you are currently paying a good one?

Please, if you care to, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Waiting List

When we started Cutia Taranului (~5 years ago) it was a simple website with one producer. We did not know if it would work, if people would respond to a vague invitation such as „fresh vegetables for a family of 3-4 people”. People did and the first box filled up very quickly. Within a couple of days the box was full and there were still many people interested.

The project was just getting started and we did not have any information tools (we were managing a list of members in a manual spreadsheet). We did not want to take on additional administrative responsibility of managing a waiting list. We responded to people by suggesting they stay in touch by looking at the website and at the Facebook page where we would announce if and when places became available.

We were not prepared for the response that we got. We started getting emails from people practically begging us to put us on a waiting list. So when we got around to building an information system to support the project, a waiting list was added. Since then that waiting list, that we did not want to be responsible for, has continuously grown.

Before saying more about the waiting list and how it works we want to acknowledge and express our appreciation for you, the people who have joined the waiting list. It is a gesture that warms our hearts, inspires and supports us. It tells us that you are interested in what we are trying to do. It supports us in confidently saying to new producers that there are people out there, you!, who care about them and their work and are willing to enter a long term relationship around food.

When you join a waiting list we add you to a list of of people interested in Cutia Taranului boxes in a given city (it is not for specific boxes). In an era when so much communication floods us from so many direction, we choose to communicate sparingly, to not add unnecessary noise to your already busy email inboxes. Most of the emails we send are to let you know when new boxes, or places in existing boxes become available. If places are not available you won’t hear much from us (to the point that it may seem that we are not here anymore).

However, we now find ourselves in a slightly uncomfortable situation. The demand for boxes is much larger than places that become available. So when places do become available they get taken very fast. Many times, by the time you read our messages, the places that were available when we sent the messages are all taken. When you open the links we send you and arrive at the website you see that there are no places available. We apologize if this experience confuses you, but we don’t know how to keep you informed and avoid this unpleasant confusion.

The best solution to this would be to introduce new producers and boxes. We are constantly working to reach and communicate with new producers. Until we do find new producers we need to ask for your patience and understanding (and maybe, if you can, spread the word that we are looking for new producers who may be interested in joining Cutia Taranului).

Thank you for your interest.
Thank you for helping us „create this problem”.
Thank you for your patience as we work to „solve it”.
Thank you!

🙂

Is the meat safe?

Since we’ve introduced numerous meat-boxes we’ve been asked a few times about the safety of the meat. Is it safe? Are the animal tested? How is safety regulated? I would like to take this opportunity to answer this question broadly and in the spirit of Cutia Taranului.

These questions carry an underlying assumption that food that is regulated and monitored by centralized authorities is safe. But is that really the case? I would say that no, it isn’t. The media provides us with ample examples of food health and safety problems that occur despite regulations.

We need to take a step back and recall why we need food regulations in the first place. The answer is in scale of food production. There is a big difference between food that is produced on small scale farms vs. food that is produced on an industrial scale. In small scale farms there is a direct relationship between the farmers and the ecosystem that supports them: soil, plants, water, animals, etc. In indusrial production settings these direct relationships are absent. Farmers are replaced by low-wage workers, managers and stakeholders. In Industrial systems the motivation is to maximize profits through efficient production and reduced production costs.

Now ask yourself: Do workers doing boring, repetitive, routing work for minimum wage care about the qualities of the food they produce? Do managers and stakeholders seeking to maximize profit care? If we were to ask them they would probably say that they do, but in reality they simply cannot. It is no one’s fault and it doesn’t imply evil behavior. The incentives of the industrial system induce low quality and minimal safety. Food will only be as good and as safe as is necessary to sell it while maximizing profits. That is the nature of the beast.

That is why food regulations and inspections are needed. They are a disciplinary measure to keep a mis-incentivized industrial system in check. Yet even elaborate and enforced food regulations only reduce the chances of problems, there are no guarantees when it comes to s   afety. One thing is, ironically, guaranteed: food that comes out of the industrial system loses its most important qualities: freshness, vitality and nourishment. The more alive and vital food is the more life it has in. The more life is has in it the more perishable it is. The best way for an industrial system to provide safe food is to sterilize it, to remove the life from it so that it can handle storage, shipment and shelf-life. Food is made to look good instead of be good.

Cutia Taranului producers are not industrial producers. They are families that work to grow and create food that feeds themselves and their members. Their livelihood is directly tied to the quality of their produce. They are inherently motivated to care about the quality of their produce. They don’t need an inspector to watch over their shoulders to remind them they need to provide healthy food, they know this with every fiber of their being. The key to good food is more care not more regulation.

I constantly remind myself and would like to remind you not to think of Cutia Taranului as an alternative to the industrial food system. Instead think of Cutia Taranului as an alternative to your grandparents or uncles in the village. They sent you home from the village with vegetables, freshly butchered chickens and eggs. Were you concerned about food regulations when they gifted you with the fruits of their work?

However, we do acknowledge that when it comes to meat, an extra measure of care is required. What we are currently suggesting to meat producers is:

  1. To constantly improve the growing conditions, food and living conditions of the animals. A good and healthy life for an animal is a good indicator for quality and safety of meat.
  2. To butcher animals as close as possible to delivery to minimize time of storage (whether fresh or frozen).
  3. To maintain cleanliness and good sanitary practices in the slaughtering and butchering of animals.
  4. To conduct veterinary tests for large animals (such as bulls and pigs) and to make the results of these tests available to members who ask to see them.
  5. To deliver meat either warm (fresh from butchering) or frozen – nothing in between. Producers are not always able to live up to this standard, but they are moving constantly moving closer towards it.

Is there more that can be done?

Probably. This is where you, the members, come in. In the industrial food system you don’t have a say, you can either buy the food or not. With Cutia Taranului you have an opportunity to be directly involved. You can visit the farm. You can see how the animals are grown and cared for. You can see how the animals are slaughtered and butchered. You can ask questions and give feedback. You can (respectfully) share ideas for improvement. You can communicate with us (the organizers) and in the future we are planning to make it possible for you to communicate with other members. If you are able to help a producer make improvements we will communicate those improvements to other producers.

There are no guarantees, responsibility falls on all of us, including you a member who chooses to subscribe to a box. If you truly care about the quality of food that is delivered to you, Cutia Taranului presents an opportunity to actually do something about it. We encourage you to care and inquire about the quality of the produce you receive and make your own informed choices. It is also fine if you do not want to take on this responsibility, but don’t expect someone else to do it for you because no one can. Caring the way you do is something only you can do.

 

Ronen

How about a wine box?

Some days ago Iulia expressed a wish for some red wine and soon after we were talking about the possibility of a wine box for Cluj.

During my first visit to Romania (7 years ago… wow!) I got to taste a simple and nice home made red wine. The host wanted to impress me and refused to give me water, only wine (it was around Christmas time) and so I also got drunk for the first time in my life. However after moving here I was disappointed by what I found in supermarkets. Even though there is a very large variety of Romanian wines (GO local!) most of the wines I tasted had an unpleasant after taste due to what seems to be an excess use of sulphates.

Since then I’ve tasted some other simple and nice home-made wines. I’ve tasted some more elaborate and very nice home made wines, red and white. I’ve tasted a variety of Tuica brews, but I’m not a fan. I’ve made and enjoyed my own home made Visinata (Tuica put to good use). I’ve tasted very nice black currant wine … and I know there is more stuff out there … home made, local, delicious. I know that it is possible to find these things by asking people who know people, some travelling may be required to get it … its out there … but it takes some effort to get your hands on it.

That’s where a box could be useful. I can imagine a monthly box that has a few bottles of wine in it with some seasonal specials and a menu of extras that members can order to meet their needs. However I am confident that there isn’t one producer out there who could provide this. I believe it would take an integration of numerous producers to create a box offering that recurring, stable and useful. It would take collaboration. Collaboration is not something that we’ve seen yet amongst producers (though we encourage ןא every chance we get).

There is, however, another kind of collaboration, which I have envisioned and occassionaly mentioned, and may be suitable for an experimental wine box. It is a collaboration based on an organizer who collectes produce from numerous producers, integrates the produce into a box servic and delivers boxes directly to members.

This organizer approach first came to me when I discovered how many elderly people there are in our village (and in my other villages) who grow relatively small gardens with excellent produce, who are incapable of organizing and delivering a box to the city. I imagined a person who was a good organizer, with a car who could collect produce from these small producers, provide them with a reliable and consistent income, and integrate their produce into a box service. That hasn’t happened yet.

Is there someone out there who is interested in being an integrator for a wine box (for either Cluj or Bucharest)? If you are such a person or know someone who could be such a person, please connect with us.

If you are interested in receiving a wine-box, please take a minute to fill out this form and let us know  about your wishes:

Numele (obligatoriu)

Adresa de email (obligatoriu)

Oras

Cluj-NapocaBucuresti

Mesaj

 

Ildi and Levente Embracing Spring 2014

Before I get to the body of this post I’d like to say this. The reason you get to see more images from Ildi & Levente then from other producers is because we are neighbor. We would be happy to post more images from other produers and that is where you may come into the picture. If you enjoy photography and maybe even a member of one of our boxes and want to get a closer look at where your food comes from and want to share those images with others then please do visit with one of our producers, snap some images and send them to us … we will happily publish them.

I think that this year’s centerpiece is Levente’s improvised heating system. Initially he welded together an old stove box and boiler to heat water which is circulated through pipes which heat everything from plants to young-chicks:

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Then due to frosty nights he added a hot air blower made up of all used parts: an old pump engine, a propeller from a broken down car and a radiator he found in a scrap metal shop in Cluj and a timer that switches it on and off (I think in half our intervals) so that the engine doesn’t overload.

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The heated greenhouse is already home to numerous generations of plants, some of which will be transplanted into other greenhouses where they will grow and mature still protected from potentially cold weather, significantly extending the growing season.

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One greenhouse is already filled with green – with plenty of spinach and soon radishes.

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In addition to the chicks pictured above there are two mother hens busy taking care of just hatched chicks:

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And continuing Levente’s metal-working season he has constructed an improvised power onion planter – which should transform a two week task into a two day task.

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This winter there was a substantial group of members who continued to enjoy deliveries from Ildi and Levente (and other producer-families) throughout the winter. Now with a growing season starting earlier, the „production year” has expanded amazingly … from about 5 months in the first year to 9 or 10 months. Wonderful evolution.

Summer Cancellations Again

Dear members of Cutia Taranului,

There are two things happening with Cutia Taranului that are causing us discomfort:

  • There are more than a handful of members who are asking for boxes once every two weeks (instead of every week).
  • There are quite a few cancellations piling up from members who are going away on summer vacation.

If Cutia Taranului was just about selling food then we wouldn’t be writing this. But it isn’t. It is about a supportive collaboration and for the most part long term relationships between families who produce food in villages and families who consume food in cities. One of the key features of this relationship is a continuous and reliable relationship for both sides. Canceling boxes (for either of the above reasons) compromises the reliability of the service.

Though its kind of dumb and obviosu to say this – we feel it needs to be said: plants don’t go on vacation and don’t stop producing food. The work and care that peasant families have put into farming does not and cannot „go on vacation”. The summer time, when people also go on vacation, is a time of peak production. Finally, after months of work, produce yields reach their peak … and just then … cancellations appear. The accumulative effect is a substantial loss of income for the peasant families for work they have already put in. Every time a box isn’t delivered is a direct loss to them. The work has been put in, the food is ready and the delivery route is already driven … but less boxes are delivered. This isn’t right.

It isn’t right because the burden falls completely on the shoulders of the peasant families (both for the work and the loss of income). The peasant families won’t say anything because you have put them in an uncomfortable situation. They are grateful for your memberships … more and more so as time passes and the relationships become long term ones … and so they are uncomfortable saying anything about this, but it hurts them.

We wrote about this last year (and were very happy when a few people acted accordingly) and suggested that the best option is „pass it on”. If you go on vacation or have to cancel for any reason try to find someone else: a friend, neighbor or family who can accept delivery of the box instead of you. This is really the best solution where you don’t have to pay anything, the peasant family get full payment and someone you care about gets to enjoy wonderful fresh food.

However given the cancellation this year we feel the need for a more aggressive intervention. As we see it there are two other options to better (than the current one-sided situation) deal with this:

  1. Members who go on vacation (or cannot find a way to deal with weekly deliveries) will have their memberships cancelled and their places will be made available to others. When they come back from the vacation, if places are still available, they can sign up again and continue getting food. Please keep in mind that there is a constant waiting list of people, so we expect these places will be quickly taken up and will not be available when you get back.
  2. Members who go on vacation (or cancel for any other reason) will be required to pay half the price of every box that they cancel. This payment will honor and value the continuing membership that is being reserved for them. This way the burden of cancellation is divided between peasant families and members.

The 1st option isn’t appealing to anyone (except maybe new members in the waiting list) – it is forceful and feels alien. We prefer the 2nd option. We believe it is better aligned with the „continuous and reliable” aspect of a healthy Cutia Taranului relationship. It will remind everyone and demonstrate that the membership itself is valuable and deserves to be appreciated.

We will be encouraging the peasant families to go with the 2nd option. We hope that they won’t need to – because we trust you, the members, to do the right thing and be one step ahead of them (the peasant families). Maybe there is another option we haven’t seen. Find it and make it happen. Please take responsibility for your part in this precious relationship – if you are going to cancel, please do it right.If you appreciate fresh food appearing at your doorstop reliably every week then please show your appreciation by providing the same reliability to your peasant families. If you are going to cancel you may as well do it right.

Biosan Hit by Hail

We just heard from Mihaela and Kinga of Biosan that a hail storm destroyed most of their crops. It tore through their greenhouse covers and slammed into the plants below. We had a bit of hail in our area but nothing so destructive. It is amazing that this kind of devastation can occur in minutes:

They worked efficiently to get an early start this year and had already made a few deliveries of wonderful (we know because we got a taste) fresh greens to their members … and now this. The deliveries will stop. They will get started on new plants but recuperation will take some time.

There isn’t much (that I know of) to protect a garden from a hail storm. I believe that answers can only be found from a more macro view of things … diversity comes to me as a keyword. Diversity in a garden, diversity in the wider eco-system in which the garden lives … diversity increases the odds in your favor when nature strikes (somethings may be lost, but not all).

With Cutia Taranului diveristy gains additional context. Cutia Taranului transforms a hail storm into an experience of community in a very practical way:

  • Members of the Biosan box who just started to enjoy the fresh foods will have to find another source until Mihaela & Kinga can get back on track.
  • Mihaela & Kinga have invested care, time, work and money in their gardens and are experiencing losses.
  • Andreea and I were sad to hear about the damage and the frustrations Mihaela & Kinga are experiencing. We were very happy to watch them grow from a small experiment last year (when they shipped just a few boxes) to a small producer this year.

I should say that this isn’t the first time that Cutia Taranului has experienced casualties of nature. Last year, Farkas family also joined Cutia Taranului, they had a list of members who had joined and … they lost their entire crop to last year’s drought (which, unlike hail, can be mitigated, but that is another story). We saw the small plants when they were growing … they were all transplanted into the fields … and almost all the plants died (there wasn’t enough variety or quantity for box deliveries). The Farkas family may offer a box this year … their fields are planted, but this year they are more cautious and waiting to see how events unfold before extending an invigation for members to join.

I do believe that there are things that can be done to protect a community … and again the answer comes in the form of diversity. There are currently 5 peasant-families who will be delivering (some have not yet started, and more may yet join) over 150 boxes of vegetables this season. The boxes are all sold out. However if (and we hope that in the future this will be the case) there were more producers and members then as a community we should be able to better cope with such events.

For example, Biosan members could temporarily (for a couple of months, or if necessary, the rest of the season) join other producers and continue to enjoy fresh produce. Peasant families could each (with what I believe would be little effort) commit to growing (at the start of the season when plants are still very vulnerable and there is time for re-establishing gardens) additional seedlings as a kind of mutual insurance policy to help each other quickly restart when something like this happens.

As I am writing these words we are having a very rainy day … quickly alternating between radiant sun and downpours of water. We are conducting a few experiments with water so when there is a substantial downfall I go outside to have a look around. When I went outside a few minutes ago I realized that if such prolific rains would continue much longer (we’ve had a week of plentiful rain) they may cause flat and open fields to flood … drowning the still fragile plants (we are not worried about this because our gardens are built as raised beds which are naturally more flood tolerant).

Sidenote: At the risk of repeating myself, it isn’t overall global warming that is a threat to food production, it is the increasing frequency of singular extreme events (a few minutes of hail, a few hours of heavy rainfail, a few weeks of drought) which do the greatest damage. This instability is most likely going to be a constant for many years to come. It is one example of the price we are paying for the ecological neglect we’ve been tolerating.

There is work to do in our food gardens to prepare for such events but there is also work to do as a community. I am sorry for the difficulty this event has brought to Mihaela & Kinga. At the same time I am grateful for this opportunity to reflect on the potential for Cutia Taranului to become a more resilient community.

When to Get Food?

When it’s available! That seems like an obvious answer but if you have gotten used to super-market mentality then that answer is not so obvious. If you shop in super-markets you can probably get pretty much whatever you want whenever you want it (though prices may fluctuate) … and you are used to it being that way.

Members of Cutia Taranului experience a different reality. Food is delivered when it beomes available. When it comes to vegetables, the boxes in spring are light and fluffy as they contain a lot of salad leaves, the boxes get heavier in summer when tomatoes and peppers appear and even heavier in fall as potatoes and other root vegetables become available. For the most part this cycle is governed by nature and it provides, when it comes to vegetables, a continuous supply of fresh food for 6-8 months (in Romania). We know it isn’t obvious because many (happy!) members were surprised when, last fall, the vegetable-box deliveries ended.

However there are other kinds of cycles in nature that are less continuous and more concentrated. We’ve recently launched a box with lamb-meat. This is a unique box since it is only available once a year.

In Romania (maybe also in other places, I am not a religious scholar so I don’t know) it coincides with the Easter holiday. However, and more importantly, it coincides with a natural flow. This is the time of year when lambs are born. Most local-Romanian sheep-herd owners, who have established herds, do not want to expand (potentially doubling) their herd (they have limited resources available for their herd and need to maintain it accordingly). This is also a time when sheep-milk-based dairy products are revived (sheep milk is available after lambs are born) and if the lambs consume all (or most) of the milk, then very little is left for producing cheeses. So the lambs need to be butchered (or sold!) now.

If you like lamb-meat then this is the time to get it. If you want it available for a longer period of time then you can purchase more, cut it up into servings, freeze it and thaw it as needed. Healthy, grass fed, organic lamb-meat (in the above mentioned box the lambs are slaughtered in the pre-dawn hours and delivered in the morning hours – it doesn’t get any fresher then that) is only available at this time of year. It won’t be available again until next year.

A similar cycle exists with pig-meat. In villages pigs are butchered for the Christmas holiday season. However there are practical reasons for that too. By that time pigs have matured and grown to provide plenty of meat and the cold weather conditions make it easier and safer to deal with fresh meat (which would spoil much faster in hot weather).

Even in our own small homestead where we grow Muscovite-ducks and chickens and we could theoretically butcher fresh meet whenever we want it (and sometimes we do), our freezer is filled in cycles. After the mating season we will cull some mature males (keeping only ones we wish to breed again next year). In early winter we cull the flock so that we don’t have to feed too many animals throughout winter (we keep good mothers and healthy males).

So keep your eyes open for these special boxes. Food is available when nature provides not when you want it. Consume it when it is available and preserve it for when it isn’t.

Last Minute Cacellations

It’s summer time and people are naturally moving around more … goin away on vacation … and this has generated some friction with Cutia Taranului. People have been making last minute cancellations. Sometimes the cancellation is done responsibly … the peasant is notified a week in advance or by email. But sometimes they are occuring irresponsibly … cancelling by telephone or email a day or two before delivery or even not being at home and not answering a phone when delivery is already in progress.

It is fairly clear, to me and I hope to others, that the irresponsible behavior is … well irresponsible, inexcusable, disrepsectul … and should simply not happen. That is easy and obvious. However it is the „responsible” cancellation that I want to address.

Cutia Taranului is about fostering a mutual, complimentary and stable relationship between peasants and members. That last part … stable is a key ingredient. It is a peasant’s responsibility to grow and deliver food regularly … that is obvious to everyone (though it is far from trivial). But what about a member’s responsibility to stablity? If this is to be a mutual and reciprocal relationship … how should a member who goes on vacation for a week behave? The easy and again obvious solution is to cancel the delivery for that week. But is there a better solution … one that is built around a mutual aspiration for stabiity and reliability? For example, if you are going out of town for a week how about giving your box to a neighbor or family relative? Maybe they will enjoy it so much that they too will want to join the box?

If you shop in the supermarket then one of the inherent luxuries is that you only shop when you need and want to. Is it obvious that this behavior should be applied to Cutia Taranului? We can tell you for a fact that in some cases peasants DO NOT sell available produce in city markets because they prioritize and set it aside for their Cutia Taranului boxes. We can tell you for a fact that some products such as baked goods begin days in advance … the boxes are prepared fresh and by order. How can you, as box members reciprocate this commitment? Should you? I don’t have a clear answer … but I do believe that the question needs to be asked and that conscious and responsible decisions can be valuable. Don’t you?

If you have udeas on how to deal with this situation responsibly as a box-member then please leave a comment so that others may benefit from your approach to this issue.

 

Cutia Taranului & Rain

We had a very wet spring this year. We had plenty of rain but late warmth. Corn grew early and fast however vegetables were slower to grow.

IMPACT1: Field grown vegetables have been growing slower then last year.

But then the rain stopped and people got religious … some more then others. Some people have no irrigation solutions so they get really religious really fast as they watch their crops dry. Others have small water-holes created not by gathering rain but by excavating until they penetrates an aquifer so that springs create a small reservoire of water. They use gas-driven pumps to move water into the fields and have been watching the water level go way down … so their religion is a bit more laid back … but still … they too are praying for rains.

IMPACT2: Peasants income is late to appear and to a degree in doubt this year.
IMPACT3: Peasants live in fear.
IMPACT4: Cutia Taranului members need to be patient … investing more energy then they thought they would in this mutual relationship with their fellow peasants.

By now the corn too is starting to show signs of dryness. It had a great start but it too needs water to continue growing.

IMPACT5: There may be less yield of corn, less to feed the animals, more expenses in buying feed … coupled with less income from selling food = difficult.

The pastures have given good yield so far but may not continue to yield enough hay for another cutting. Hay needs to be cut in dry conditions so that it can dry in the sun before it is collected … so summer is pretty much the only time

IMPACT6: Gradually less and less small peasant families with 2 or 3 cows … much work, not enough value … and way too much trouble.

This morning we awoke to a hopeful drizzle. It paused and later turned into a promising summer rain … that lasted 20 minutes … then the sun came out and the hope went away. Within a couple of hours most of the earth was again dry. Rain … it is so immediate, so powerful, so far reaching. Of course the worries may be eased at least temporaily somewhat with a few rains … but the instablity and fears remain.

We hope Cutia Taranului will create stability for both consumers in the city and peasant producers. Yet we ar convinced that selling food is just one (though a critical) step on on the way. The way food is grown will have to change too … water supply is diminishing (water tables are dropping), the earth (yes, even AND especially the earth that will supply the wonderful vegetables that will begin delivery next week) is dying, work is getting harder and weather is becoming less predictable and more extreme (it isn’t global warming that worries peasants, it’s singular local events that threatens their livelihood).

For me, that’s the heart and motivation of Cutia Taranului. We live and grow our food in the same weather conditions, we face similar challenges. We have already begun to explore alternative approaches that create better and more resilient conditions and we hope, through Cutia Taranului, to both continue our exploration and then share our experiences in the hope that stability can be achieved in the face of coming uncertainties.