Sacred Bee Keeping

I have a tendency to be critical (internally towards myself, and externally towards others), it can come across as tough and judgemental but I do not intend it that way. It is, in me, an expression of striving to discover and do better. Though in many ways Cutia Taranului is a successful project, in the back of my mind there is a continuous conversation about what isn’t good enough and how to do better.

One direction these thoughts go is the relationship between Cutia Taranului and the greater natural ecosystem that underlies it (and all of us). It is a bit of a strange subject for me to address, because my relationship with the natural ecosystem is indirect. It is a relationship that manifests through the producers who partake in the project since they are the ones in a direct relationship with nature.

My views on how to relate to the natural system present some difficulties:

  • I have only a little experience with gardening or farming. As a result, what knowledge I do have is not yet embodied within me. Therefore I cannot offer it with authority. I can only offer it to others, who do relate to nature more often and more directly, as an invitation for them to explore.
  • The knowledge that feels most true to me often goes against popular norms and assumptions. It tends to make me unpopular (though to be honest that depends on who I am talking to).
  • When an established producer is presented with information that brings into question their own embodied and established experience, it can be challenging for them to take in new information. I acknowledge that difficulty: knowing is one thing, applying knowledge is another.
  • New information often points to a path of change. What if the changes have a negative effect on a producer’s livelihood? What if those changes require a producer to make an investment (of time, effort and money)? This leads to a different challenge altogether: how to embrace change in a healthy way?

Bee-keeping is one area where I have questions. I don’t intend to go deep into bee-keeping in this post; I do want to acknowledge that 1) bees are critical to our food supply (without pollination there is no food) and 2) it increasingly seems that there is a bee-crisis all around the world (from mysterious disappearances of entire swarms to collony-collapse-disorder).

From the information I have gathered it seems that most of the problems with bee-keeping originate in … well … how bees are kept. When bees are treated as a honey production system, compromises are made to their well-being. It seems to me that when those compromises add up, they become the systemic problems that we are witnessing with bees.

With that in heart and mind, I’d like to share with you these videos from Sandira & Annelieke in Portugal. They offer a glimpse into bee-keeping that is very different from mainstream bee-keeping. In this story of bee-keeping the bees are at the center, not honey production. These videos offer a glimpse into a world of bee-keeping in which there is a mutual and sacred relationship between bees & humans; a relatonship in which the essence is the depth of the relationship itself and not what is produced by it. I was deeply moved by these videos and want to share them with you:

Sacose textile pentru livrare de la familia Gergely

Folosirea sacoselor de plastic de catre producatorii Cutia Taranului pare sa fie un subiect popular de conversatie. Este ceva ce vrem sa vedem imbuntatit in intreg proiectul nostru.

Cu cateva luni in urma familia Gergely a decis sa faca ceva in legatura cu asta. Au facut, lucrat de mana si pe cheltuiala lor (material si munca), la fara nici un cost suplimentar pentru membrii cutiei lor, cate doua pentru fiecare familie, sacose textile si au inceput sa livreze produsele in acestea. Am aplaudat initiativa lor, fiind primii in proiectul nostru care au trecut la fapte in acest sens, pentru cutiile cu legume.

Cu cateva saptamani in urma, Eniko si Janos ne-au sunat sa ne spuna ce s-a intamplat de atunci incoace. Unii membrii au uitat de sacose, le-au ratacit, pierdut… sau nu le-au returnat pentru a fi refolosite de la o livrare la alta. Astfel, dna Gergely a cumparat din nou material si a cusut noi sacose pentru a le inlocui, din nou pe cheltuiala lor… si multe dintre aceste nu au mai fost innapoiate la livrari. Pentru unii dintre membrii lor au facut al 3-lea sau 4-lea rand de sacose in acest fel. S-au gasit in situatia de a continua sa faca sacose sa tina pasul cu membrii cutiei care le-au pierdut. Azi ne-au informat ca pentru unii au facut inclusiv a 5-a tura de sacose si ca ei nu mai pot continua in acest fel.

Asadar, in ce situatie am ajuns?!

  • „Noua” ca grup (in acest caz grupul membrilor acestei cutii) ne pasa CU ADEVARAT de plastic si reciclare?
  • „Ne” pasa vreun pic, avem grija, dar nu vrem CU ADEVARAT sa depunem efort in asta? Caz in care… ce inseamna defapt „grija”?
  • Sunt cei care vorbesc despre reciclare, grija pentru natura etc. o minoritate careia chiar ii pasa? Restului din grup nu le pasa? (Si dat fiind natura social media, ma intreb, daca celor care vorbesc despre asta chiar le pasa sau gasesc satisfactie in a vorbi doar despre subiect?)
  • Putem sa incurajam oamenii sa actioneze mai responsabil? Daca da, cum?

TU ce ai face in aceasta situatie?

Hand Made Textile Bags from Gergely Family

The use of plastic bags by Cutia Taranului producers seems to be a popular subject of conversation. It is something we want to see improved throughout Cutia Taranului.

A few months ago Gergely family decided to do something about it. They made (hand-made) at their own expense of material and work (at no cost to members) textile bags and started delivering their produce in them. We applauded their initiative.

A few weeks ago Eniko and Janos shared with us what has happened since. Some members forgot about the bags, lost them … and did not return them for reuse. So Eniko and Janos made replacement bags … and those also disappeared. For some members they were making bags for the 3rd or 4th time. They were finding themselves continuously making bags to keep up with members who lose bags. Now they informed us that they are making a 5th around of bags and that they can’t continue to do this.

So where does that leave us?

  • Do „we” as a group (in this case the group of members of this specific box) REALLY care about plastic and recycling?
  • Do „we” care a little bit, but aren’t REALLY willing to put effort into it? In which case what does „caring”mean?
  • Are the who people speak out about this a small minority who really care? Do the rest of the people not care? (And given the nature of social media I wonder if those who speak out really do care or are they finding satisfaction through speaking?)
  • Can we encourage people to act more responsibly? If so how?

What would you do in this situation?

Cine-i fermierul tau?

Pentru a vedea videocpilul cu subtitrare in limba romana urmati pasii de mai jos:

  1. In fereastra cu videoul, apasati pe „Settings” (rotita din partea dreapta jos),
  2. Alegeti optiunea „Subtitles/CC”,
  3. Apoi alegeti optiunea „Auto-translate”,
  4. Cautati in lista care apare si selectati „Romanian”.

Acum ar trebui sa va apara subtitrarea in limba romana.


Impressions from 1st Cutia Taranului Community Meeting

What follows are my personal impressions. It IS NOT an official summary. It IS an invitation for other participants to add their impressions and reflections as comments to this post. Also I relied on my sometimes incomplete understanding of Romanian with some translation help that was available to me. Things may have gotten lost in understanding and translation.

On September 23rd (2018) we had a first community meeting. We invited producers and members (past and present) from Cluj to come together to an open conversation about Cutia Taranului. My wishes for this meeting were to meet face-to-face and get a direct sense for the members of Cutia Taranului (who we, as organizers, don’t get to meet) and to see if there is potential for connecting with a group of people who would be able to get more involved with the shaping of Cutia Taranului in the future.

The response to our invitation email was weak. Around 10 members showed interest, 7 said they would attend, only 3 showed up. In attendance were also four producer families and a couple of friends of the project. The meetings took up the full three hours we allocated to it.

We did a round of personal introductions and in doing so established „rounds” as a basic method of communications in the meeting. As the meeting progressed, especially when we reached a kind of tipping point in the conversation, it was challenging to hold a conversation in rounds.

We did a round of sharing what each person had on their mind (wishes, concerns, ideas, etc.) regarding Cutia Taranului. I gave, as an example,the subject of packaging (reducing the amount of throw-away plastic used in packaging). I explained that we (the Cutia Taranului administrators) neither have the resources to deal with all the potentially interesting and valuable subjects that come up. I also explained that we do not want Cutia Taranului to be a centralized echo-system: in this case where everyone looks to us to decide on what is important and to provide solutions. The point of this meeting was to see if it would be possible for participants in the echo system look to each-other: members to producers, producers to members, members to members. Despite emphasizing that packaging/plastic was just an example, others seemed to latch on to it.

Some subjects came up, including:

  • plastic in packaging
  • knowing in advance what is going to be in the box
  • allowing members to order customized boxes
  • members going away on vacation (especially in the summer time)
  • „skip a week” – enabling members to efficiently notify producers about being away.
  • including recipes in boxes

The conversation gravitated towards the issue of (lack of) flexibility of box content. This was because:

  1. There were so few members.
  2. The members that were present were relatively new to Cutia Taranului (a few months / weeks)
  3. Two of the three members wanted to talk about the lack of flexibility in selecting contents of boxes and expressed a wish to be able to order whatever they want.

In an attempt to embrace the circle as it was, I felt that  an underlying theme in the subjects that were coming up was relationship and the ripples that our wishes and choices send out into the world. When the circle came back around to me I tried to integrate my thoughts (in a spirit that I usually express also on the Cutia Taranului blog: the cost of choice, lover earth). That seemed to irritate one of the members (= a third of the members preset) and that irritation dominated the last third of the conversation.

We took a short break to ventilate the circle, to drink some water and to allow people to connect informally. When we came back from the break, I asked Andrei (one of the „friends of the project” in attendance, and a permaculture designer) to open the circle. He pointed out that in the previous rounds someone said (and no one contested) that there are three „stakeholders” in Cutia Taranului: producers, members and us (organizers). Andrei pointed out that there is a fourth entity: the larger ecosystem we all partake in. I don’t know how that comment was received by the people present, but for me it was in alignment with the wider subject of relationship I was speaking to: I believe we need to learn to be sensitive to implications that go beyond what directly seems to affect us in the short term.

I was grateful that we tried to make this meeting happen. I was grateful for the producers who made an effort to show up and expressed themselves. I was grateful for the members that showed up. I was disappointed that so few members showed up. I was tired at the end.

Some of my personal echoes from the meeting:

  • For now, I am personally not motivated to do this again (though everyone in the room, when asked in the circle, indicated they would like to meet again). For me, without more members, this format is not effective. Maybe producer-only meetings? Maybe member-only meetings?
  • I do not have a sense of how it may be possible to get more members involved? I realize people are busy; that food may not be as high a priority it is for them as it is for us; that it is OK for people to want food to be a non-issue in their lives . Maybe it is too soon to get members involved? Maybe we need to wait until an explicit wish appears from members to get involved?
  • I feel such a conversation, should it happen again, needs to be re-tuned. I realized that I am not really interested to hear what people want Cutia Taranului to be unless they want to be involved in creating it. There aren’t „free resources” available to respond to „requests” – we really cannot „take requests”. I do believe there is a possibility for more people to get involved and create more things together.
  • Learning to be together, to really listen, to speak clearly, to make choices together … this takes time and can only be learned together. That means that if one day we do come together, we need to be ready to give this process plenty of space and time to mature into something valuable and pleasant.

Meeting participants are welcome to add their meeting impressions and thoughts as comments to this post.

Impresii de la prima Intalnire a Comunitatii Cutia Taranului

Ceea ce urmeaza sunt impresiile mele personale. Acesta NU ESTE un rezumat oficial. ESTE o invitatie catre ceilalti participanti sa isi adauge impresiile si reflectiile personale ca si comentariu la aceasta postare. De asemenea, m-am bazat pe cunostintele mele de limba romana uneori insuficiente completate de ajutor in traduceri, unde a fost posibil. Unele puncte poate s-au pierdut la traducere sau intelegere.

Pe data de 23 Septembrie (2018) am avut prima intalnire a comunitatii noastre. Am invitat producatori si membrii (actuali sau fosti) din Cluj pentru a ne intalni si a conversa deschis despre Cutia Taranului. Dorintele mele de la aceasta intalnire au fost sa ne intalnim fata in fata si sa avem o conectare directa cu membrii Cutiei Taranului (pe care noi, organizatorii, nu reusim sa ii cunoastem) si sa vedem daca exista potential pentru conectarea cu un grup de oameni, care s-ar putea implica mai mult in conturarea Cutiei Taranului in viitor.

Raspunsul la invitatia noastra lansata pe email a fost slab. In jur de 10 membrii s-au aratat interesati, sapte au confirmat prezenta, doar trei au si fost prezenti. Prezente au fost, de asemenea, si patru familii de producatori si cativa prieteni ai proiectului. Intalnirea a avut loc pe parcursul a celor trei ore alocale.

Am inceput cu o runda de prezentari si am continuat in aceasta metoda a ”rundei” si pentru celalalte puncte de comunicare. Pe parcurs ce intalnirea a progresat, la momentul atingerii unor subiecte sensibile, a fost provocator sa pastram conversatia pe runde.

Am facut o runda in care fiecare a putut impartasi ceea ce il preocupa (dorinte, griji, idei, etc.) referitor la Cutia Taranului. Am oferit, ca exemplu, subiectul ambalajelor (reducerea cantitatii de pungi de plastic care se arunca). Am explicat ca noi, (administratorii Cutiei Taranului) nu dispunem de resursele necesare pentru a ne confrunta cu toate temele valoroase si interesante care pot aparea. De asemenea, am explicat ca nu dorim ca Cutia Taranului sa devina un ecosistem centralizat: in care toata lumea se asteapta de la noi sa decidem asupra a ceea ce este important si sa oferim solutii. Scopul acestei intalniri a fost sa descoperim daca ar fi posibil ca participanti la eco-sistem sa ne sprijinim unii pe altii: membrii pe producatori, producatorii pe membrii, membrii pe membrii. In ciuda faptului ca am subliniat ca tematica ambalajului a fost doar un exemplu, unii au ramas fixati pe subiect.

Subiectele ivite au inclus:

  • Plasticul in ambalare
  • A se sti in avans ce se va gasi in cutie
  • A se permite membrilor sa comande cutii personalizate
  • Membrii care sunt plecati in vacanta (mai ales pe perioada verii)
  • ”sari o saptamana” – permiterea ca membrii sa ii informeze in mod eficient pe producatori cand sunt plecati
  • Introducerea retetelor in cutii

Conversatia a deviat catre tematica (lipsei) flexibilitatii la continutul cutiei. Aceasta s-a datorat:

  1. Numarului redus de membrii
  2. Membrii prezenti au fost membrii relativ noi ai Cutiei Taranului (cateva luni / saptamani)
  3. Doi din cei trei membrii prezenti au dorit sa discute despre lipsa flexibilitatii in selectia continutului cutiei si si-au exprimat dorinta de a fi posibil sa comande ce isi doresc

In incercarea de a imbratisa ciclul in forma data, am simtit ca o tema fundamentala, care aparea in subiectele discutate, o reprezenta relatia si valurile pe care dorintele si deciziile noastre le trimiteau in lume. Cand ciclul s-a reintors la mine, am incercat sa imi integrez gandurile (in forma exprimata de mine, de asemenea, pe blogul Cutia Taranului: costul alegerii, Pamantul ca iubita). Asta pare sa fi iritat pe unul din membrii (= o treime a membrilor prezenti) si aceasta iritatie a dominat al treia parte a conversatiei.

Am luat o pauza pentru a permite ventilarea cercului, pentru a ne hidrata si pentru a da ocazia conectarii informale. La reintoarcerea din pauza l-am rugat pe Andrei (unul dintre ”prietenii proiectului”, un designer in permacultura prezent la intalnire) sa deschida cercul. El a subliniat ca in rundele precedente cineva a mentionat ca exista trei ”parti interesate” in Cutia Taranului: producatorii, membrii si noi (organizatorii). Andrei a evidentiat ca exista o a patra parte implicata, si anume, ecosistemul extins la care fiecare din noi ia parte. Nu stiu cum a fost perceput acest comentariu de catre cei prezenti, dar pentru mine aceasta a fost o aliniere la subiectul extins al relatiei despre care am mentionat: Cred ca trebuie sa invatam sa fim mai sensibili la implicatiile care merg mai departe de ceea ce pare ca ne afecteaza in mod direct pe termen scurt.

Am fost recunoscator ca am incercat sa facem ca aceasta intalnire sa se intample. Am fost recunoscator pentru producatorii care au facut efortul de a participa si si-au exprimat parerile. Am fost recunoscator pentru membrii care au luat parte. Am fost dezamagit ca au venit atat de putini membrii. La sfarsit, eram obosit.

Cateva ecouri personale din intalnire:

  • Deocamdata, personal, nu sunt motivat sa repet asta (desi toti cei prezenti, cand au fost intrebati, au raspuns ca isi doresc sa repete asemenea intalniri). Pentru mine, fara mai multi membri, formatul nu este eficient. Poate doar intalniri de producatori? Poate doar intalniri de membrii?
  • Nu imi dau seama care am putea sa adunam mai multi membri. Stiu ca oamenii sunt ocupati, ca poate hrana nu este pentru ei o prioritate de o asemenea importanta ca si pentru noi; ca este OK pentru oameni sa isi doreasca ca hrana sa nu fie o tema in viata lor. Poate este prea devreme sa ii implicam pe membri? Poate trebuie sa asteptam pana cand apare o dorinta explicita din partea membrilor de a se implica?
  • Simt ca, o asemenea conversatie, daca are sa se repete, trebuie recalibrata. Am realizat ca nu ma intereseaza cu adevarat sa aud ce isi doresc oamenii sa fie Cutia Taranului, decat daca, acestia isi doresc sa fie implicati in crearea ei. Nu exista ”resurse libere” disponibile sa raspunda la ”cerinte” – chiar nu putem prelua ”cerinte”. Eu chiar cred ca exista posibilitatea ca mai multi oameni sa se implice si sa creeze mai multe lucruri impreuna.
  • A invata sa stam impreuna, sa ascultam cu adevarat, sa vorbim in mod explicit, sa luam decizii impreuna…acestea iau timp si pot fi invatate doar impreuna. Asta inseamna ca, daca intr-o zi intr-adevar ne intalnim, trebuie sa fim dispusi sa oferim acestui process mult spatiu si timp pentru a creste in ceva valoros si placut.

Participantii la intalnire sunt invitati sa aaduge propriile impresi si ganduri sub forma de comentarii la aceasta postare.


Traducerea si adaptarea: Larissa Bondan

Corectura: Iulia Sara

Costul alegerii industriale

Cifrele din aceasta postare despre productia industriala alimentara contra productiei locale la scala mica sunt complementare la discutia despre costul alegerii:

Consumatorii platesc 7,5 miliarde  de dolari anual pentru mancare procesata industrial. Dar, intre o treime si o jumatate din aceasta productie, este pierduta pe calea ei spre consumatori sau spre masa consumatorilor: stricata pe camp sau pe parcursul transportului, respinsa de retaileri din cauza defectelor sau ramase pe farfurie datorita supraservirii.

Pe cealalta parte, gospodariile tarilor membre ale Organizatiei Cooperarii si Dezvoltarii Economice (OECD) consuma aproximativ cu un sfert mai multa mancare decat ar fi necesar, aceasta conducand la obezitate si probleme ale sanatatii.

Valoarea totala a mancarii supraproduse se ridica la 3,8 miliarde de dolari anual, fiind o combinatie dintre valoarea de 2,49 miliarde dolari platita pe mancare irosita si valoarea de 1,26 miliarde de dolari platita pentru supraconsum.

Adunand dauna extinsa asupra mediului inconjurator – incluzand aici infectarea solului si a apei, emisiile de gaze a solariilor- cu impactul asupra sanatatii si asupra societatii, rezulta ca raul provocat de lantul alimentar industrial este de aproximativ 3 miliarde de dolari. (vezi nota 193). Pentru fiecare dolar cheltuit de consumator in supermarket, daunele asupra sanatatii si a asupra mediului costa cu doi dolari in plus.

… de-a lungul ultimului secol, lantul industrial alimentar nu a introdus pentru productie nici o recolta noua sau vreo noua specie de animale domestice, dar a eliminat 75 % din diversitatea genetica a recoltelor, a redus cu o treime numarul speciilor de animale si a redus valoarea nutritionala a recoltei cu aproape 40%.

Lantul alimentar industrial lucreaza cu doar 137 de specii de plante pentru cultivare si cinci specii pricipale de animale… In contrast, reteaua taranilor reproduce si creste 7.000 de specii de plante diferite si 34 de specii diferite de animale.”

Dragi romani, tara voastra este un loc special datorita traditiei rurale consacrate si inca vie. Pastrati-o vie. Cu fiecare ocazie care vi se iveste, acordati prioritate alimentelor locale in locul celor industriale.


De Original: lyzadanger Derivative:
Diliff, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link


Traducerea: Larissa Bondan

The Cost of Industrial Choice

The figures in this post about industrial food production vs. small-scale local production it felt complementary to our discussion about the cost of choice:
(the original text includes links to research resources for the data).

„Consumers pay $7.5 trillion each year for industrially produced food. But between a third and half of this production is wasted along the way to the consumer or at the table: spoiled in the field or in transport, rejected from grocers because of blemishes, or left on the plate because of over-serving.

Conversely, households in OECD countries consume about a quarter more food than is needed – leading to obesity and related health problems.

The total food overproduced each year is worth $3.8 trillion – a combination of $2.49 trillion worth of food waste and $1.26 trillion of over-consumption …

When the wider environmental damages – including contaminated soils and water, greenhouse gas emissions – are added to the health and social impacts, the harm done by the industrial food chain is almost $5 trillion (see footnote 193). For every dollar consumers spent in supermarkets, health and environmental damages cost two dollars more.

… over the last century, the industrial food chain has not introduced a single new crop or livestock species to production but has cut the genetic diversity of our crops by 75 per cent, reduced the number of species by about one third, and reduced the nutritional value of our crops by up to 40 per cent.

The industrial food chain works with only 137 crop species and five main livestock species … By contrast, the peasant web is breeding and growing 7,000 different crop species and 34 livestock species”

Dear Romanians, your country is a special place because of its established and still living peasantry tradition. Keep it alive. At every opportunity you have give preference to local food over 28industrial food.

By Original: lyzadanger Derivative work:
Diliff, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link