Supporting Transylvania’s Small Businesses During Covid-19
Transylvania’s farms and small businesses play an essential role in conserving the local environment and ways of life. These local producers continue to rely on low-impact methods of growing produce and creating products that represent the heart of Romanian culture. In fact, these agricultural methods are so important to Transylvania’s wildlife that local nonprofit ADEPT has focused largely on bringing value to traditional production to ensure the protection of the animals and the culture of the region.
However, many of these producers depend on domestic and international tourism to boost the sale of their products, which are displayed at ADEPT’s office in Saschiz and at the Angofa Wildlife Centre. With tourism at a complete halt and even local markets shuttered, these producers, like many small businesses worldwide, are left without income. Many of these farmers and artisans supply the Angofa Centre for traditional dinners, as well as local restaurants in Sighisoara.
The businesses represented here use no chemicals on their crops, protecting the biodiversity of insects that bolsters Romania’s entire ecosystem. Currently, these businesses deliver only within Romania, but they will soon be capable of shipping around Europe and can accept donations in the meantime. Here’s who you can support during this challenging time.
Bucate din Vecinătate (Pieces from the Neighborhood)
This project unites 14 local farms from the Tarnava Mare region, identified as a biodiversity hotspot by the EU in 2000. Organized by the Women’s Cooperative from the village of Saschiz, the Pieces from the Neighborhood project is an e-commerce business designed to get farm produce directly to people’s doorsteps.
The site offers individual items like eggs, cheese, bread, as well as preserved and frozen vegetables from organic farms in Tarnava Mare. Choose from hundreds of products that support local farmers in one of Romania’s most important regions and receive a taste of the Transylvanian countryside at your doorstep. Learn more here: http://bucatedinvecinatate.ro/
Pivnita Bunicii (Grandma’s Cellar)
This popular business in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Saschiz was inspired by the traditional cellars in Saxon homes where people stored preserved produce for the winter. Founded in 2008, Grandma’s Cellar has expanded to eleven locations in Transylvania and is even stocked in some local supermarkets.
Most of the products sold through this site are preserved goods such as jams, liquor, honey, and local chutneys called zacusca, so they are easy to store for long periods of time. This company’s mission is to “provide support for rural communities, by purchasing their produce or wild-harvested flowers, fruits, and berries, processing these into high-quality products that taste superb, like Grandma used to make, and to delight customers who come back for more.” All of their products are made from locally- and ethically- sourced ingredients that support agriculture in Tarnava Mare.
You can order products from the Grandma’s Cellar website for pickup or purchase from stores in Brasov, Bucharest, Sighișoara, and Cluj-Napoca, among others.
Saschiz Pottery Workshop
The Saschiz Pottery Workshop was founded to revive the traditional art of creating cobalt blue pottery, developed in Transylvania in the 1700s. The Centre sells both pottery and classes, allowing tourists to learn the traditional craft or take home a souvenir.
Funded by the Camelia Botnar Foundation and managed by ADEPT, these workshops help maintain the center and courses for young people in Saschiz. You can donate to this project or purchase pottery by reaching out to email@example.com.
Livada Mălâncrav (Eco-Friendly Apple Juice)
This small social enterprise transforms local apples into sweet juice with no additives or preservatives. The factory employs three people full-time and provides work for up to forty people during the harvest season. It also prevents waste from apple orchards that cannot sell their produce quickly enough in the autumn.
The sales of the apple juice enable the maintenance of the pesticide-free orchard that overlooks a beautiful valley filled with wildflowers in the summer. This production method maintains the biodiversity of the local environment and makes for tastier, healthier juice.
You can purchase the juice through the factory’s website here: http://livadamalancrav.ro/produse.html.
The current epidemic has disrupted life and business for a majority of the world’s population. However, small businesses often get hit the hardest because they do not have the margins to survive long periods without income. If you have the means, consider purchasing from these local producers during quarantine (if you live in Romania) or send a donation to make sure you can stop by when they reopen. If you want to taste the best Transylvania has to offer, check out our Wildlife Walks with a traditional feast at the Angofa Wildlife Centre!