ADEPT and the local community

The survival of traditional small-scale farming communities is threatened throughout Europe and in Romania. These communities are particularly important from an economic and cultural point of view.

The ADEPT project gives as high a priority to the survival of small-scale farming communities as it does to biodiversity conservation. They must each support the survival of the other.

ADEPT is working to raise understanding, among the men, women and children of local communities, of why their area is important, and how its conservation can benefit them. Conservation can only succeed if local communities actively support the conservation vision for the area. Local people will support the vision, not by being coerced by regulations, but by seeing that it can offer them and their children a better future.

We are developing training courses and public awareness programmes: books, school programmes, posters, newsletters and village festivals, essential to gather local support for conservation and understanding of its potential economic benefits.

About the local community

ADEPT’s first, and still most important area of operation, is the Târnava Mare area of Southern Transylvania, in Romania. It is a lowland area of high biodiversity, 85,000 ha, farmed by 5,000 families in 24 small-scale farming communities. The site lies in the historic region of Saxon Village. The ‘Saxons’, who arrived in Southern Transylvania in the 12th-13th centuries from Flanders, Luxembourg and the Mosel, established some 200 Saxon villages and seven principal fortified towns.
The extensive mixed farming carried out in this region for over 8 centuries has created one of Europe’s finest surviving lowland High Nature Value farmed mosaic landscapes. Agriculture remains largely traditional; each household with strips of arable land in the different areas that are good for the various crops, and larger parcels, typically 5-10 ha, of hay-meadow.

A typical village in the area has 200 families, of which most have 2-3 cows, and 10-20 sheep.

Grazing of village livestock is on common pastures maintained by the village neighborhood systems. Each livestock owner was obliged to donate a certain number of days’ work, according to how many head of cattle or sheep he owned, clearing scrub etc., but this old system now needs to be supported by payments.

The Târnava Mare area and its communities now have recognition, support and protection as a Natura 2000 site.

Related Projects

Ecosystem Services from High Nature Value farmland - Green industry - Romania

Environmental friendly and profitable farmer’s production in five local communities in the Transylvanian region by combining traditional land management and ecosystem services.
Funded by: a grant from Norway through the Norway Grants 2009-2014, in the frame of Green Industry Innovation Programme Romania
Project Duration: 2012 - 2014 (2 years)

Rural Development and High Nature Value Farmlands in Romania

Improved economic viability of local livelihoods from HNV farmlands in Romania and conservation of agri-environmental benefits.
Funded by: the Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Programme
Project Duration: 2013 - 2016 (3 years)

Green infrastructure in Sighișoara-Târnava Mare Natura 2000 Site – Discover Târnava Mare by Bike

Creation of a green network or infrastructure, “owned” by local communities, that will catalyse local cooperation in the development of green enterprises
Project Supported by:a Grant From Switzerland through the Swiss Contribution to the Enlarged European Union Programme Romania
Project Duration: 2013 - 2015 (2 years)

AgriSpin – Space for innovations in Agriculture

The Agrispin Project aims at creating space for agricultural innovations, through amplifying good examples of innovation support systems and through multiactor learning about ways to stimulate innovation and remove obstacles.
Funded by:the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 652642
Project Duration: 2014 - 2017 (3 years)

Operation Wallacea

In 2013, Fundația ADEPT began a long term partnership with operation Wallacea. OpWall carries out a worldwide programme in which schoolchildren and university students gather information about the changes in and threats to globally important areas of biodiversity. Târnava Mare is the chosen European hotspot.
Funded by:Opwall Trust
Project Duration: 2013 - 2019 (6 years)

ESSEDRA - Environmentally Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Rural Areas

International project developed in partnership with Slow Food International and 10 other organizations from 8 countries, for experience sharing, and promoting local/traditional products all around Europe
Funded by:European Commission
Project Duration: 2012 - 2016 (4 years)

GIRO - Geographical Indicators

International project developed in partnership with Slow Food International and 10 other organizations from 8 countries, for experience sharing, and promoting local/traditional products all around Europe
Funded by:European Commission
Project Duration: 2012 - 2016 (4 years)

Threats to the landscape and communities

Lack of social and economic incentives
Local farmers and other land managers have few incentives to remain working the land. This threat will have increasing impact over the next few years under EU pressure for competitiveness, causing intensification in more commercially viable areas and abandonment of less accessible areas.

Poor agricultural management – intensification or abandonment
Intensification by fertilisation or change of use will quickly destroy the grasslands. Abandonment is an equal threat because scrub and thorn spread quickly in abandoned grasslands and a thatch of dead grass develops on top of the hay meadows smothering the plants underneath. This leads to gradual growth of bushes/thorny shrubs, and a massive reduction in plant diversity to be replaced by a matted grass and thorn scrub of much lower biodiversity value.

ADEPT’s response

ADEPT's work is to try to unlock the potential benefits of international interest in the area, and the potential economic and quality of life advantages to farmers resulting from continued traditional management of these landscapes.

  • Establish incentives by linking good habitat management to agri-environment grants.

  • Establish broadly accepted management guidelines for farmers, as part of the farm consultancy process under which we help farmers increase their incomes.

  • Encourage establishment of associations of small-scale farmers; only by cooperation can small-scale farmers survive in modern market conditions.

  • Involve farmers, schools and general public in conservation activities through innovative education, information and publications to raise local and general appreciation.

ADEPT is implementing a range of measures to create demand for products, and to boost local income from agriculture. This will improve the economic viability of small-scale producers and of small-scale farming.

Milk Collection Points


ADEPT helped authorisation for 8 milk collection points in the villages in the area, and provided training and milk testing equipment to monitor maintenance of quality standards.

Brand of the area


Development of an umbrella brand for the area and all the products and services, which acts as a quality mark for local products. Târnava Mare branded products have established a good market in Romania.

Protecting Romania’s traditional products and adding value to them

Introduced a new measure in the Romanian National Rural Development Programme supporting the registration process and covering part of the cost and promoting the traditional and GI products.

Community Enterprise


Development of a basic model of a community-owned micro-processing unit for village-level food processing, enabling small-scale producers to meet the safety and hygiene regulations set out by the EU.

Innovative marketing


The Art of Dar is an innovative product that combines the unique food products of Transylvania with highest quality Transylvanian crafts and, at the same time, an innovative way of fundraising.

The first Slow Food Convivium in Romania

ADEPT helped form Slow Food Tarnava Mare (formerly SF Sighisoara), the first Slow Food Convivium in Romania, bringing together consumers (hotels and restaurants) with local farmers and producers.

Networking

The creation of associations, and increased willingness to act cooperatively, is key to the future of these smallscale farming communities, because single farmers are not able to compete on their own with larger producers.We have led the establishment of a Local Action Group in Târnava Mare. We have trained village associations to manage themselves more professionally, so that they provide services for their members and trust between members. And we have also led the establishment of a Conferederation of Small Scale Farmers, CATAR, which already represents over 100,000 farmers and acts as a channel of information and expertise.

Fundatia ADEPT has worked to create effective and attractive information networks, including via improved-capacity farmer associations and, together with local partners, have established the Târnava Mare Tourist Association, under the name Discover Târnava Mare. The network promotes responsible, sustainable and accessible tourism as a main driver for the economic growth and development of the Târnava Mare area and, at the same time, as an important tool to promote and preserve the unique High Nature Value landscapes of the Saxon Villages of Transylvania.
The network aims to reduce poverty, to increase revenue from tourism related activities and to foster sustainable development of the area, with permanent emphasis on biodiversity conservation. Through this association Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania wishes to generate market knowledge, to promote competitive and sustainable tourism, to make tourism an effective tool for future development.

Please visit www.discovertarnavamare.org for more information.

Related Projects

Development of a European Private Land Conservation Network – LIFE ELCN

LIFE programme: LIFE Preparatory Projects call for Establishment of a European Private Land Conservation Network ADEPT Pilot action: Building commercial incentives for private landowner cooperation in nature conservation.
Funded by: European Commission
Project Duration: 2017 - 2020 (3 years)

AgriSpin – Space for innovations in Agriculture

The Agrispin Project aims at creating space for agricultural innovations, through amplifying good examples of innovation support systems and through multiactor learning about ways to stimulate innovation and remove obstacles.
Funded by:the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 652642
Project Duration: 2014 - 2017 (3 years)

Awareness & Education

ADEPT is working to raise awareness, among the local communities and the general public, emphasising on the importance of conservation of these High Nature Value landscapes and the benefits they get from them. Education is an important compound of our activities, we aim to educate the younger generation of small scale farmers, to bring them closer to nature and teach them more about caring for their precious landscape. We wish to involve the broader community as well to become supporters of our initiatives.

Filed Trips

Each year we give nature classes and field trips for 280 children in 8 schools, and arrange competitions designed to motivate children to get involved in this educational programme. Also, we have established teams of Junior Rangers in two villages, promoting understanding and responsibility towards nature. We built a pavilion to serve as an interactive learning station, which we donated to the Local Nature Volunteers Association. We organised mountain-bike expeditions across the grasslands, combined with innovative locally-made flora and faune interpretation panels.

Angofa Nature School

ADEPT is planning to use an abandoned schoolhouse as an education centre for schoolchildren, including children from vulnerable communities and disabled children. It will give a better understanding of nature, and a greater appreciation of their landscapes, to children from villages in the area, and from nearby cities such as Sighisoara and Târgu Mures. There are no dedicated nature schools in Romania, so this fills an important need. Angofa will provide dedicated and well-designed, up-to-date nature training to a large number of children. Over 1,000 children each year are within the immediate catchment area, at schools in the 8 communes with which we already have contact. We plan to use innovative equipment that will also allow us to cater for sight- and hearing-impaired children from a wider area. The school would also offer some vocational training. Nature education in itself has broad indirect benefits on children’s’ attitudes to learning, to community and society, to health and to general responsibility.
Get involved! Your support will make a difference!

Monitoring of the area

We are the only European partner of Operation Wallacea, which brings schoolchildren and university students to sites around the world for long-term monitoring of important natural areas. Operation Wallacea are carrying out biodiversity and socio-economic monitoring in the Târnava Mare area, over 150 students visiting per year, working with Romanian university students. This will build up valuable long-term data about the evolution of the area. Read more about Operation Wallacea project.

Related Videos

Fundatia ADEPT - Transylvania

Operation Wallacea - Romania Expedition

Operation Wallacea - Transylvania Schools Expeditions 1

Operation Wallacea - Transylvania Schools Expeditions 2

Operation Wallacea - Transylvania Research Assistant

Operation Wallacea Transylvania - European Wild Cat

Related Projects

Operation Wallacea

In 2013, Fundația ADEPT began a long term partnership with operation Wallacea. OpWall carries out a worldwide programme in which schoolchildren and university students gather information about the changes in and threats to globally important areas of biodiversity. Târnava Mare is the chosen European hotspot.
Funded by:Opwall Trust
Project Duration: 2013 - 2019 (6 years)

Trainings and Workshops for Local Farmers

We have given high priority to farmer training and capacity building, so that our work leaves long-term sustainable economic benefits. Courses and workshops include agri-environment, food production and marketing, food hygiene, and rural tourism to groups in many villages of the area.

Agri-environment: we have created a series of publications to help small-scale farmers and producers to understand the minimum
requirements for receiving EU grants, including record-keeping; to develop markets to add value to their products; and to develop producer and marketing associations which are key to their future survival.

Agro-tourism: bookkeeping; computer use and data processing; modern language communication, responsible tourism, opportunities; gastronomy; accommodation & serving food for visitors; guiding and related activities; arts and crafts; basics of running a business, tourism promotion and marketing.

Food Hygiene (RSPH course)
We have provided practical guides so that small-scale producers can avoid excessive regulations, which constitute a major threat to continued small-scale local production. We negotiated acceptance by the authorities of plans for simplified processing units for micro-producers, and have made these plans freely available.

Milk Hygiene ADEPT has offered training on how to use/maintain the machinery in the milk collection points. 100 farmers were trained in organic farming certification, milk hygiene, product marketing.
Traditional fruit trees pruning - maintenance of traditional fruit trees for income as part of sustainable land management.

Related Publications

Minimum food hygiene and food safety conditions for small producers
Milk Hygiene Training
From Subsistence to Profit (also called How to live better from my farm)
Let’s be aware of what we eat

Mountain Trip: Mountain sustainability: transforming research into practice.
In a joint project with several EU countries, ADEPT has developed brochures to help Romanian small-scale farming comunities become more prosperous through better marketing, training and cooperation.

Informative campaigns for consumers

ADEPT is working to raise awareness, among the local communities and the general public, emphasising on the importance of conservation of these High Nature Value landscapes and the benefits they get from them. The key importance of farmers markets is that the producers themselves sell their own products, which are local or regional. The consumers meets the producer, establishing an extra level of trust in the food product, and raising consumer awareness of the links between local food, high quality food, healthy food, prosperity of rural communities, and survival many aspects of national rural traditions and landscapes.

Local and short food chains are good for everyone, producers and consumers alike. And they have additional advantages in reduc- tion of carbon footprint of foods, so reducing pollution and global warming.

Know your food, know where it comes from
In 2011 we carried out our campaign, a message that the EU supports local and traditional food, small-scale producers and short supply chains strongly linked with High Nature Value landscapes. The campaign reached thousands od Romanian citizens by making local markets into a media story.

Peasant food for modern people
Through our national communication campaign, part of ESSEDRA project, we aimed to inform as many people about the importance and relevance of peasants (i.g. small scale farmers) in an ever changing and growing global market. It is of upmost importance for people to realise that these small scale farmers, that have a special connection with the land and thus the food they produce, hold in their traditional knowledge the key for a sustainable agriculture, capable of delivering high-quality food that is Good, Clean and Fair.

Related Publications

When You Shop use your Head
Let’s be aware of what we eat

Related Projects

CAP Information Measure

Demonstration markets, raising international awareness of CAP support for sustainable agriculture responsive to Europe’s social expectations
Funded by:European Union, Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development
Project Duration: 2011 (1 year)

ESSEDRA - Environmentally Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Rural Areas

International project developed in partnership with Slow Food International and 10 other organizations from 8 countries, for experience sharing, and promoting local/traditional products all around Europe
Funded by:European Commission
Project Duration: 2012 - 2016 (4 years)

GIRO - Geographical Indicators

International project developed in partnership with Slow Food International and 10 other organizations from 8 countries, for experience sharing, and promoting local/traditional products all around Europe
Funded by:European Commission
Project Duration: 2012 - 2016 (4 years)

Information and local economy

Annual Meeting of Family Farmers and Small-scale Producers - a popular annual event dedicated to family farmers and small-scale producers from the Târnava Mare area, bringing together more than 200 local farmers with the specialists who have contributed to the survival and prosperity of their landscapes, organized at ADEPT’s initiative, who identified the need of the local farmers and producers to have an open dialogue with the authorities and specialists. Farmers find the event really informative: the value is demonstrated by the fact that the number of farmers participating has continually increased over 6 years.

Romania’s small-scale farmers need information and technical assistance to achieve an integrated use of all the Rural Development Programme measures available to them. In summer 2011 Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania carried out a project using traditional farmers markets, linked to modern branding and promotion, to create media interest and using the news stories created to promote the message that the CAP supports sustainable agriculture and employment in rural areas.

Vatra Saschizana community newspaper

Since its launch in late 2006, the Saschiz community newspaper has been a great success, delivered each month to every house in the commune (3 villages, 3,000 people). There were monthly editions in 2007 and 2008. Villagers await the new issues, and ask our staff when the next one will appear. The newspaper has local news, plus announcements, advertisements, even a lonely hearts column! The newspaper also has a series of articles explaining the new rural development programme – this series of articles will be repeated in other regional newspapers.

The design of the paper has been improved by desk top publishing software, and since December 2008 it is being produced in the Town Hall, ensuring its longer-term viability.

SMS Family Farms (SMSFF)

A free information service for Romanian farmers Based on the information they provide and their activity profile, we send relevant news and events on a regular basis, legislative changes, national and international fairs, seminars, courses, subsidy payments, reminders of new funding opportunities and deadlines of funding application etc.

Related Projects

ESSEDRA - Environmentally Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Rural Areas

International project developed in partnership with Slow Food International and 10 other organizations from 8 countries, for experience sharing, and promoting local/traditional products all around Europe
Funded by:European Commission
Project Duration: 2012 - 2016 (4 years)

CAP Information Measure

Demonstration markets, raising international awareness of CAP support for sustainable agriculture responsive to Europe’s social expectations
Funded by:European Union, Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development
Project Duration: 2011 (1 year)

Development of Târnava Mare Local Action Group under the EU’s LEADER programme

Fundaţia ADEPT supported the establishment of the Târnava Mare LAG in 2007, which includes local authorities, representatives of local community groups, locally active NGOs and entrepreneurs from the eight communes of the area.

Under LEADER regulations, LAGs must represent local authorities, local business interests, community groups and NGOs active in the area. Local authorities are not permitted to make up the majority of LAG committees, to make sure that decisions about the use of LAG funding are genuinely community-based and not used as an extension of local authority funding.

Each LAG receives a large annual budget, under the National Rural Development Plan, and it is up to each LAG to decide on what projects the budget can be spent. There may be private commercial projects, so long as there is community benefit, or may be projects carried out by community groups such as schools, agricultural associations.

The Târnava Mare LAG has been chosen as a pilot Local Action Group, one of the first wave in Romanian, by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Rural Development. The LAG is also a member of an international partnership of Local Action Groups, with four other LAGs from UK and Ireland. The exchange of ideas between these groups has proved to be very stimulating for the village communities of Târnava Mare.

LEADER is the EU measure for rural development, to give local communities greater control over how their local development budget is spent. The measure is based on Local Action Groups (LAGs) which guide the use of development funds.

For more information regarding the Local Development Strategy Plan and LAG’s activities please visit the website http://www.tarnava-mare.ro/ro/

Related Projects

ESSEDRA - Environmentally Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Rural Areas

International project developed in partnership with Slow Food International and 10 other organizations from 8 countries, for experience sharing, and promoting local/traditional products all around Europe
Funded by:European Commission
Project Duration: 2012 - 2016 (4 years)

CAP Information Measure

Demonstration markets, raising international awareness of CAP support for sustainable agriculture responsive to Europe’s social expectations
Funded by:European Union, Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development
Project Duration: 2011 (1 year)

Local Products

Our products come from High Nature Value Farmlands (HNVF), situated in rural areas where traditional farming is the main economic activity and a key factor in nature conservation. HNV farmlands deliver a host of public benefits (goods and services), including valuable cultural landscapes, high quality water and food, quality of life, recreation opportunities, carbon sequestration, flood control. These benefits are for the wider society, beyond the communities that live within HNV areas.

Food related benefits from HNV Farmlands:

  • Food production: smaller farms in Romania produce twice as much per hectare as larger farms (measured as difference between value of agricultural outputs and cost of inputs, Eurostat 2011). They have a significant role in providing food to localities and wider families.
  • Food security for the future: HNV farming provides sustainable land use, including healthy bee populations for pollination. HNV mosaic farmed landscapes are more flexible in their farming activities, more adaptable to climate change and environmental challenges.
  • Diversified, nutritious and tasty food.
  • A rich pool of agriculture and gastronomy-related traditions and customs


By buying our products not only you enjoy tasty and healthy food, but you bring an important contribution to the conservation of these unique landscapes, to the preservation of the local identity and to the economic growth of the small scale farmers families in the Saxon villages area.

Fresh and frozen fruits
Fresh vegetables and preserves
Jams
Dried herbs
Cheese
Bread

Check our online shop www.sesfruleco.ro for details regarding available products and prices. Please visit www.discovertarnavamare.ro for more information regarding our local producers and their products, or come to our Tourist Information Centre in Saschiz.

ADEPT is implementing a range of measures to create demand for products, and to boost local income from agriculture. This will improve the economic viability of small-scale producers and of small-scale farming.

Milk Collection Points


ADEPT helped authorisation for 8 milk collection points in the villages in the area, and provided training and milk testing equipment to monitor maintenance of quality standards.

Brand of the area


Development of an umbrella brand for the area and all the products and services, which acts as a quality mark for local products. Târnava Mare branded products have established a good market in Romania.

Protecting Romania’s traditional products and adding value to them

Introduced a new measure in the Romanian National Rural Development Programme supporting the registration process and covering part of the cost and promoting the traditional and GI products.

Community Enterprise


Development of a basic model of a community-owned micro-processing unit for village-level food processing, enabling small-scale producers to meet the safety and hygiene regulations set out by the EU.

Innovative marketing


The Art of Dar is an innovative product that combines the unique food products of Transylvania with highest quality Transylvanian crafts and, at the same time, an innovative way of fundraising.

The first Slow Food Convivium in Romania

ADEPT helped form Slow Food Tarnava Mare (formerly SF Sighisoara), the first Slow Food Convivium in Romania, bringing together consumers (hotels and restaurants) with local farmers and producers.

Related Projects

Rural Development and High Nature Value Farmlands in Romania

Improved economic viability of local livelihoods from HNV farmlands in Romania and conservation of agri-environmental benefits.
Funded by: the Swiss-Romanian Cooperation Programme
Project Duration: 2013 - 2016 (3 years)

GIRO - Geographical Indicators

International project developed in partnership with Slow Food International and 10 other organizations from 8 countries, for experience sharing, and promoting local/traditional products all around Europe
Funded by:European Commission
Project Duration: 2012 - 2016 (4 years)

ESSEDRA - Environmentally Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Rural Areas

International project developed in partnership with Slow Food International and 10 other organizations from 8 countries, for experience sharing, and promoting local/traditional products all around Europe
Funded by:European Commission
Project Duration: 2012 - 2016 (4 years)

Promoting sustainable production for small-scale farming communities in a Natura 2000 landscape in Transylvania

Support rural communities in bringing local benefits from the traditional land management.
Funded by: Innovation Norway
Project Duration: 2009 - 2011 (2 years)

Sustainable Tourism

Agro-tourism and nature tourism can contribute significantly to the continued economic viability of this special area, providing a direct link between the High Nature Landscape and local incomes.

While continued traditional land management is the key for the survival of the landscape and the biodiversity of the area, additional income for farm households from agro-tourism and nature tourism is very important for the long term viability of the small-scale farming communities. ADEPT is active in agro-tourism training and marketing to promote the expansion of the network of bed and breakfast accommodation, and associated activities, in the area.

If tourism development is sensitive and relatively small-scale, it needs not to detract from the special atmosphere and biodiversity of the region, but it can actually support it.

Linking visitor experience with local incomes

Tourism provides not only income for guest house owners, but also a market for many local products, in which local skills and good management are recognised and properly valued. It is an ideal way to get money directly to local producers, especially women.

There is now a wide range of food, culture and walking activities for tourists visiting the Târnava Mare area, available both to independent travellers and through tour operators. They are described in a series of booklets that can be obtained free from the Tourist Information Centre in Saschiz or downloaded from our publications section.

Activities

Transilvania Bike Trails
Pottery Workshops
Shepherding
Trekking
Meet the Bees
Meet the Bears
Visit the Blacksmith
Visit the Saxon Churches

Discover Târnava Mare

Please visit www.discovertarnavamare.org for more information regarding other activities available in the area. This website provides information, in English and Romanian, for people interested in visiting the area, and for those interested in obtaining the special local products and services of the area.
Fundatia ADEPT and local partners have established the Târnava Mare Tourist Association, promoting responsible tourism across the area.

Saschiz Tourist Information Centre

Fundatia ADEPT runs a Tourist Information Centre in Saschiz to give visitors information on the area and help them find local accommodation or F&B facilities. Local produce including jams, honey, baskets and other crafts are on sale. Postcards and other gifts are also available. Guided tours can be arranged.

Opening hours: 9 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm, Wednesday through Sunday
ADEPT office hours: 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday

Tourist Information Centre - situated at the base of the Tower of Saschiz Fortified Church
Addresse: Str. Principala nr. 166 Saschiz, Mures 547510 • Romania
Phone: 40 (0)265 711 733
E-mail: info@discovertarnavamare.org

Related Publications

A Taste of Transylvania An overview of the Tarnava Mare area, with map
Food and Culture tours
A 12-page brochure describing local food and its traditional production in the Tarnava Mare area.
Tarnava Mare Walking brochure with detailed maps of the long-distance trail and shorter walking routes in the area.
Saschiz - The Village of Seven Churches brochure 
The Historic Countryside of the Saxon Villages of Southeast Transylvania
Guides to wildlife of the area

Related Projects

Green infrastructure in Sighișoara-Târnava Mare Natura 2000 Site – Discover Târnava Mare by Bike

Creation of a green network or infrastructure, “owned” by local communities, that will catalyse local cooperation in the development of green enterprises
Project Supported by:a Grant From Switzerland through the Swiss Contribution to the Enlarged European Union Programme Romania
Project Duration: 2013 - 2015 (2 years)

Revival of the old crafts - Saschiz Pottery Workshop

Training of young people from the Saxon Villages region of Transylvania in pottery skills in order to revive the old Saschiz pottery centre renowned for its blue ware since the 1700s.
Project Funded by: :Camelia Botnar Foundation
Project Duration: 2012 - 2017 (5 years)

Saschiz Pottery Centre

ADEPT, with the support of Camelia Botnar Foundation and the Saschiz Municipality, have established and opened a permanent Pottery Workshop in Saschiz whose aim is to revive the traditional crafts of the Târnava Mare area, by combining traditional techniques of pottery with the benefits of modern technology, thereby enhancing the quality and strength of these works of art, and to encourage tourism and education, providing tourists and schoolchildren with the opportunity to take part in pottery workshops.

Our pottery is available for purchase in the Saschiz Tourist Information Centre. We can also execute personalised items for you, upon request.

Saschiz was an old pottery centre renowned for its blue ware since the 1700s. The small pottery closed in the 1970s and the traditional white-on-blue motifs were taken over by the pottery in Corund/ Korond, in the Szekely area and motifs reversed (blue-on-white).

The Saxons who lived in Saschiz over the years were not just farmers. They also developed craft guilds, where the craft of the craft was transmitted. On the territory of the commune, the documents speak of pottery craftsmen who made their place among the traditional guilds of the time in the 17th century, besides shoemakers, furriers, blacksmiths and carpenters.

Saschiz pottery is distinct due to the cobalt blue of the pieces, on which white motifs are hand-painted. This type of ceramic was created in the 7th century, but sadly, due to unknown reasons, the formula has been lost in the meantime.

Through its perfect form and technique, the Saxon decoration in cobalt blue occupied a special place in Transylvanian ceramics and captured the interest of researchers since the end of the nineteenth century.

The Origin

The origin of this kind of ceramics has sparked controversy. At the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, in Southern Bohemia or Moravia, a set of white clay creepers, cobalt-lined in blue cobalt, decorated with ornaments - deer, bird, tulip, grape, vrej and so on – were made according to a special technique, by not covering some portions of blue enamel. These plates are exposed today at the museums of Prague and Brünn as distinctive decorative pieces. The resemblance of the cobalt blue Transylvanian vessels to those in the Czech Republic led to the hypothesis that the Saxon ceramic pieces could be considered as a continuation of the Moravian ceramics.*

Decoration

For decorating the plates and pots, pottery makers used to draw geometric elements such as the dot, the sinewy line, the circle, the spiral, the cord, the chess board as well as symbols such as the two-headed eagle, the stag, the bear with ram horns, the bird, the grape, the tulip, the sun flower, the pomegranate in abstract shapes. The most often encountered motif is the grape, as symbol of Christianity, wealth, abundance and joy, but also the grape vine, especially in wine-growing regions. Bird motifs are also present on a cobalt blue background. The crow, the chicken, the partridge were represented individually or as part of a composition (e.g. the bird hunting for a worm, which can actually be considered a classic ornament of Transylvanian cobalt blue ceramic).

Top quality vessels were made to order, for weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations. In such cases, the pieces have the year, the names and the initials of the person who issued the order written down on them.*

Technique

Sgraffito technique, used currently in Saschiz Pottery Centre

The technique is currently under debate. Some researchers claim that this type of ceramic must have been produced using the "sgraffito" technique. This consists in the application of two layers of angobo (ceramic paste used for finishing pottery pieces) of different colors on the pot, and scratching the upper layer so that the bottom layer becomes visible through the scratches. The craft made of clay, in the blooming state, was given with a white angobe, after which another blue angobo was applied. After drying the second layer, the decorative pattern would be engraved, so that the white layer beneath would have appeared on the surface. It would be followed by gilding with a transparent, colorless enamel and, at the end, the bowl would be burned.

Other researches have developed a new theory, according to which it is not the "sgraffito" but the "batik" technique that creates the desired effect. "Batik" means drawing the ornaments with fluid, hot beeswax and then covering the whole pot with blue enamel. The enamel does not adhere to the parts where beeswax had been applied, and so the patterns keep the color of the base.

Although the method of making the Saschiz blue ceramic decoration is a controversial topic, it is distinguished by the perfect shape and processing technique at a level rarely reached. After 1815 these pieces, of special value, were imitated, but without reaching the original artistic standard of the pottery makers *.
* source - Horst Klusch and Karla Rosca, Transylvanian ceramics in cobalt blue. Saschiz crafts

Photo Gallery

Related Projects

Revival of the old crafts - Saschiz Pottery Workshop

Training of young people from the Saxon Villages region of Transylvania in pottery skills in order to revive the old Saschiz pottery centre renowned for its blue ware since the 1700s.
Project Funded by: :Camelia Botnar Foundation
Project Duration: 2012 - 2017 (5 years)

Our Strategic Partners

Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania
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