International Haymaking Camp 7 to 14 August 2016 in GyimesRegistration now open here.
Make friends, have fun, learn new skills and help to preserve valuable mountain hay meadows and their plant, wildlife and traditions in one of the last large-scale medieval landscapes of Europe: the eastern Carpathians of Romania. Shown here in pictures.
This is a great opportunity for nature lovers and those interested in traditional culture and sustainable living to learn about the connections between nature and farming by doing physical work alongside local people and participating in the art and science of hay making and related skills.
Our international participants - from Britain, Ireland, Norway, Austria, Hungary, Germany and USA - give overwhelmingly positive feedback on the experience.:
"I came to the Festival find out about and experience traditional haymaking, see the countryside and landscapes and some of its wildlife in a beautiful part of the world I had never been to before, meet some local people and experience some of their way of life – all of which I did, so it amply filled all those expectations. But the one thing I didn’t expect (and the thing I think I will remember the longest) were the truly inspiring people we met." (Neil)
"The hay festival offers so much: a chance to mow exquisite meadows in beautiful surroundings, work with enthusiastic locals and visitors and to gain a glimpse of a culture and sense of community that is a distant memory in most of Europe. In a small but important way, our involvement helps to preserve these meadows and makes a contribution to the local economy." (Alex)
“A week of sleeping in hay barns, rising at 5.30 to beat the heat of the sun, being with a great bunch of like-minded scythers and eating fantastic local food all added to the experience... As well as conserving the hay meadows we can also annoy UKIP by providing cheap labour to the Romanians!” (Nicky)
Photos of the 2014 camp. And the 2015 event.
Transylvania hay article by Adam Nicholson in National Geographic July 2013, was researched in this region with our help.Valuing the small farm: article about the region for The Ecologist March 2013 by Luke Dale Harris, whose visit was hosted by us.
Aberdeen Staff and Students Making Hay in the sunshine of Romania
Your visit will help our projects to improve rural incomes, support traditional agriculture, understand the ecology and biology of important wetlands and meadows, and identify and protect key species and habitats in need of conservation.
Now in its eighth year, the Gyimes Haymaking Camp is a celebration of traditional skills and crafts related to making hay. The programme depends on the weather but should include mowing by scythe, sleeping in a mountain hay barn, making hay, a mowing competition, learning how to make traditional rakes and scythes with a local craftsman, visiting the cows in the summer pastures, making and tasting cheese, horse and cart rides, collecting wild herbs, enjoying local food, learning about meadow plants and animals, testing your skill in folk dances.
The festival is in Áldamas (Adamas) valley. We can organise village accommodation, rail transfer from Miercurea Ciuc, airport transfers (from Tirgu Mures, Cluj-Napoca or Bucharest), and suggest a guide and an itinerary if you want to explore more of this beautiful area before or after the events.
This part of Romania was once the eastern border of the Hungarian kingdom and is home to the Hungarian Csángo people. Bring a Hungarian phrasebook!
The programme is subject to change according to the weather conditions!
Sunday: in the evening everybody shall meet at the Áldomás Guesthouse in Áldomspataka
village, Gyimesbükk municipality for welcome and dinner.
Monday: mowing starts early in the morning, followed by breakfast at 9 AM, continue mowing from 10
AM, 1 PM lunch followed by a walk in the meadow to learn about meadow biodiversity with the help
of specialists, 6 PM dinner.
Tuesday: breakfast at 8 AM, 9 AM – 1 PM a visit to uncle Viktor the tool maker (learn how
to make scythes and rakes), 1‐3 PM lunch and siesta followed by gathering the hay and making small
hay stacks, 7 PM dinner.
Wednesday: resting day, participation on the thanksgiving mass which is held each year at
the small chapel in the village; local people gather there to show their gratitude to God for the good
weather and wheat and hay yield; lunch at 2 PM after which guests from abroad are given a
possibility to make a short presentation for locals about “The value of the lifestyle in Gyimes Valley”
(what makes this traditional lifestyle valuable); after presentations dinner will be served which will
be followed by an evening party with local traditional music and dances.
Thursday: 6 AM good morning, 7 AM visiting the kaliba (a shelter not too far from the
house where locals keep the animals during summer), cheese making, breakfast and picking
mushrooms; lunch at around 1 PM after which the team will pack up and head to the high mountain
hay meadow; dinner on the mountain, sleeping in the hay barn in sleeping bags.
Friday: 6 AM mowing early in the morning; 9 AM breakfast followed by more mowing; 1
PM lunch; 2 PM walk on the meadow to learn about meadow biodiversity with the help of
specialists, comparison with those seen 700 meters lower on the meadow walk on Monday; 6 PM
Saturday: breakfast at 8 AM; most of the day will be spent with gathering the hay, making
hay stacks and pulling them to the barns, loading the hay into the barn; in the late afternoon the
team leaves the mountain and will have dinner back at the guesthouse.
Sunday: breakfast at around 8 AM, followed by a short evaluation of the week, after
which farewell and everybody shall head home.
Participation fee: £30 GBP [or 40 EUR]/person/day for participants from old EU member states and 25 EUR/person/day for participants from new EU member states. The fee includes simple village accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner and participation in the activities and programmes.Children welcome.
Registration deadline: 15 July 2016. The number of participants is limited to a maximum of 30. A £15 deposit is kindly requested upon registration.
Practical information: this is a Hungarian ethnic region, bring a Hungarian phrasebook. Be prepared for any weather – it changes quickly in the mountains, wear layers, working clothes, sturdy shoes, waterproofs, sunscreen . Gardening gloves and a sun hat are recommended. Insurance is not included, please buy your own. Responsible children are welcome but parents are responsible for their safe supervision.
Nearest airports: Tirgu Mures, Bucharest; railway stations: Miercurea Ciuc, Ghimes http://goo.gl/maps/xOVjV
Please visit these websites to learn more about our initiatives related to nature conservation and agriculture:
- Pogány-havas Association: www.poganyhavas.ro
- Hay meadow conservation project: www.mountainhaymeadows.eu
“Hay meadows provide an immense range of benefits to farming communities and wider society. They create some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery and cultural landscapes. Simply to watch this natural, environmental and cultural heritage disappear before our eyes is, surely, not an option we can consider,” said HRH the Prince of Wales in a video message to our policy seminar at the European Parliament, Brussels, 2012.
Contact: For registration, transportation possibilities, optional tours before or after the event or any other detail please contact Barbara Knowles (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Robert Biro (email@example.com).
Organizers: Attila Sárig and Pogány-havas Microregional Association
Sponsors: Barbara Knowles Fund, and Naturvernforbundet i Buskerud from Norway
Report of Gyimes Haymaking Festival 21 to 28 August 2011
Visitors from Norway, Austria, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Romania and Hungary created a wonderful atmosphere of fun, learning and hard physical work. The sun shone, we enjoyed excellent food and drink, made new friends and mowed 2 ha of meadows which would otherwise have been abandoned. The novice mowers did incredibly well against experienced locals in our first ever mowing competition, a bit of fun which also achieved a lot of coverage in the local media and raised the profile of the event very successfully.
"I came to the Festival find out about and experience traditional haymaking, see the countryside and landscapes and some of its wildlife in a beautiful part of the world I had never been to before, meet some local people and experience some of their way of life – all of which I did, so it amply filled all those expectations. But the one thing I didn’t expect (and the thing I think I will remember the longest) were the truly inspiring people we met," Neil Diment, one of the participants of the 2011 haymaking festival.
You can watch a news item about the festival from the local TV station http://www.youtube.com/user/csikitvonline#p/u/20/VWqNJxDOJKs
and read about the mowing competition in the blog of one of the participants http://scytherspace.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/transylvania-mowing-competition-2011/