The two houses of Earthway Experience

In the fall of 2017 Adina and I purchased a Saxon house and barn with 3000m2 (0.74 acres) and the following year we were able to purchase the house and land next door doubling our land area to 6000m2 (1.78 acres). You can read about this beginning of our transition to Șomartin – Transylvania – Romania in our blog bost THE WINDS OF CHANGE ARE DEFINITELY BLOWING…AGAIN . In the two years since we acquired this wonderful place, we have been slowly but surely making this special place ours. If you haven’t read our prior posts, they explain what we have done and you may be interested in reading those then return here. In this blog post I’d like to explain more about our longer term plans.

Neighbors Barn and our new Garden in Somartin

Our original plans in Sweden were to have a Eco Retreat Center and bring people from around the world to live, learn and laugh along the shore of Lake Siljan – Dalarna – Sweden. While we never had any paying guests we did host numerous dozens of volunteers who helped develop the property from 2008 until – 2017 when we sold the property to purchase this land in Transylvania. One of the main “problems” was lack of good space for people to live, no barn and short growing season. A problem in Permaculture is defined as a roadblock in your idea that is eventually circumvented with a new idea, Plan A moves into Plan B. Here in Somartin we were offered many solution to obstacles we that we were facing in Sweden. It is hard to put a number on these in order of importance, so I give you a list and say each was important and together they offered us a whole new world of possibilities:
1 – A large house, with full basement and full attic.
2 – A guest house with large bake oven and attic.
3 – A large brick and oak beam barn with 4 rooms below and full length upstairs (2 stories or levels)
4 – While the land area is smaller it does include numerous mature fruit trees, grape vines, plants and herbs and the Transylvanian soil is literally some of the best in the world.
5 – Location. Location. Location. Leksand – Somartin is 1774 km/1102 mi straight line distance or 1102 km / 1000 mi further south.

All of these synergistically add up to what is undeniably a new home that will provide not only for our family and our neighbors in the village but to those who will also come into direct or indirect contact with Earthway Experience Permaculture and Eco Retreat Center.

Our new chickens getting used to their new home

Now that you have a better overview of Șomartin I would like to paint a picture of sorts, to bring you on a short journey into the future. Imagine not only 4-5 volunteers helping, learning and experiencing Șomartin (we had up to 25 volunteers over the course of one summer in Sweden) but in addition to volunteer opportunities, we will open our doors to individuals, families and corporate and private groups. Green Nature therapy benefits both our health and well-being, it is about the psychological benefits of being in nature and natural surroundings. It is a combination of the ideas of ecopsychology and psychotherapy. In small to medium groups in the beautiful natural settings of Șomartin we will experience outdoor physical activities and participate in social interactions. The health benefits can include the release of negative thoughts, a lessening of ADHD symptoms, and alleviation from stress, worry, and unhappiness. Green Nature therapy has been successful in helping those with PTSD as well. Activities specific to the Șomartin – Transylvania location are numerous and unquestionably beneficial to our very being.

A drying fire in the new Bake Oven

Ecopsychology studies the relationship between human beings and the natural world through ecological and psychological principles. The field seeks to develop and understand ways of expanding the emotional connection between individuals and the natural world, thereby assisting individuals to develop a sustainable lifestyles and remedying alienation from nature. [Wikipedia]

The village of Somartin has a Saxon name of Martinsville and is centrally located between Brasov in the West, Sibiu in the East and Târgu Mureș in the north. The village has approximately 270 residents and there are several non natives like ourselves moving to the area in the hopes of a more simple lifestyle and to help improve living conditions for all in the area. The area boasts wild boar, bears, wolves, lynx, red deer, eagles, owls, as well as numerous small species of mammals and birds. Here we get up in the morning to care for the chickens and pigs and to gather fresh herbs and berries for breakfast. Days are spent doing chores relative to the seasons, planting in the spring, caretaking in the summer and harvest in the Autumn. But in keeping with permaculture ideals we do not want to become serfs to the land but to enjoy the bounty nature give us and to give back to nature. A circle of giving and receiving. Nature surrounds us in Somartin and we are there to fully experience of this beautiful location. Hiking and herb gathering in the nearby Carpathians in summer and skiing and enjoying the quiet solitude of winter.

Sibiu Judetul (County/Kommun)

Transylvania is a historical region which is located in central Romania. Bound on the east and south by its natural borders, the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended westward to the Apuseni Mountains. The region of Transylvania is known for the scenery of its Carpathian landscape and its rich history. It also contains major cities such as Cluj-Napoca, Brașov, Sibiu, Târgu Mureș, and Bistrița. The Western world commonly associates Transylvania with vampires, because of the influence of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula and its many film adaptations. [Wikipedia]

Upper Story of Barn to Insulate and make Rooms

We have the opportunity to purchase an additional piece of land adjacent to our property where we could build a sort of hostel / hotel / communal eating area. Here guest have a comfortable modern in transylvania style accommodations. Group meals build a comradery and a sense of belonging. Private , semi private and group sleeping areas will be available. The bake oven I mentioned earlier (pictured above) was in earlier times used by many of the local villagers. Over time it became damaged and defective and fell into disuse. It is our wish to bring fellow residents of Șomartin together in our project and have our neighbors use the bake oven. The man who rebuilt the over told us it could bake about 15 very large loaves of bread. From our research of bake ovens (we built a small one at the Permaculture Center in Sweden) it is best to use the oven two times a week. As I mentioned above, there are other in the village building new ventures and one will be a hotel. Imagine if they can offer guests bread bake fresh and form just blocks away. Imagine our guest will not only get fresh bread but fresh produce, eggs, cheese, meat and more!

Garlic planted last fall

We will be making more videos, not only on the progress of our Permaculture Retreat Center but also more self reliance subjects. A pair of our soap making videos made several years ago has received over 85,000 views. A new 3 part soap making series already has 2 parts to watch on YouTube The 3rd part will be up soon Our channel address is www.YouTube.com/user/earthwayexperience.

If you would like to help make this vision a reality we would greatly appreciate your help. To this end we have started a Patreon Fundraiser – www.patreon.com/earthwayexperience.

The Cooperative of the Craftsmen

If you like this Article please share and we hope you will check out our other writings at The Earthway Blog as well as our extensive Permaculture and DIY YouTube video library.

Earthway Experience Permaculture & Eco Retreat Center have many projects including soap making and other DIY videos and would appreciate your support.
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