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Heritage for the Future | Civic Europe
Community development, Environment and sustainability

Heritage for the Future

Experimental adaptive gardening and the use of traditional architecture for a sustainable life in areas exposed to desertification following climate change in rural south Romania.


Who is behind this?

Raluca Munteanu

Pro Patrimonio


Who is joining forces?

Ierburi Uitate


Master of Anthropology


East Movies


Research&Development Station for Viticulture and Enology Dragasani; Agronomy Faculty, Craiova; Management, Agriculture Engineering and Rural Development Faculty, Slatina; Administration; Mass-media


Idea pitch

The desertification process is a real concern in the Southern part of Romania. Specialists estimate that over 1000 hectares of land are becoming dunes of sand, yearly, which means in 50 years, all land here will be covered in sand. Our project aims to design a gardening and living model of adapting to this situation, along with the local community and specialists. The final target group are the rural communities in the area, who will benefit when implementing the model.

Where will your project idea take place?

Olari village, Olt County, Romania

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

As mentioned, Olari is an agricultural area facing desertification - specialists say that, each year, 1000 more acres of land in Romania are covered by sand. Also, people living in Olari are poor and also lack access to information on how to adapt to this reality. Therefore, our main challenge will be to search, together with the local community, for a living model (gardening and architecture) that will be sustainable in the future.

Who are you doing it for?

Main target:
- local community, who, in order to adapt to the new climate has to adapt its way of living. This means adapting what they plant to the new climate, and also start using architecture for their benefit. Estimated number: around 3000 locals from Olari/ Parscoveni + around 18000 people from the neighboring villages (we took into consideration official statistical data when setting the target).
Secondary target:
- professionals (architects, landscapists, agronomists, anthropologists) - approx 200 people
- other communities in the same situation, at regional and international level, interested in multiplying the model/ ideas - no of communities: 3 or 4

How do you plan to get there?

Activity 1: implement an experimental garden adapted to drought conditions (during the entire project)
1. plan the layout
2. prepare the soil
3. scout for historical species and traditional varieties
4. grow and transplant seedlings
5. caring, harvesting and seeds exploitation
6. future plan based on project's findings
Activity 2: organise a series of workshops to set-up the ground for the model:
1. 1 anthropological workshop to understand climate change in the area & investigate the community's approach to it
2. 1 theoretical workshop on historical gardening with Ierburi Uitate and Research & Development Station for Viticulture and Enology Dragasani' representatives; Participants: 10
3. 1 experimental cooking workshop using the crops from the project's garden; Participants: 4
4. 1 architectural workshop for building an experimental installation for water caption when it rains; Participants: 1 coordinator, 3 craftsmen, 10 participants.
Activity 3: documentary & informative materials production
1. on-going filming of the project’s activities
2. anthropological research in community and among project stakeholders
3. documentary post production
4. elaborate a practical guide for gardening and living adapted to climate changes
5. documentary & practical guide dissemination to stakeholders, professionals, other interested communities, general public

What are the expected results?

- approx 10 locals who will be working side by side with us in the garden & another 10 families from Olari who will be involved in seeds and experience exchange
- locals will be involved in designing the living model, by taking part and sharing their skills during the workshops
- have a base of minimum 3 informal leaders to help in further implementing the model
- have a more transparent collaboration between formal institutions (city hall & schools) and locals, by inviting them to workshops and outside activities (gardening etc)
- establish an ongoing collaboration with at least 3 institutions to further implement the model
- re-create a sense of community for locals, centered around the Manor and the experimental garden

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

In Olari, there is no sense of community, involvement & civic education. People don’t trust each other & are not used to work together for a common interest, while the city hall is just the place where they pay taxes. We aim to challenge this & start building a sense of community by involving the locals in implementing & developing the project. We are aware that this won’t dramatically change in 1 year, but first steps will be taken; the locals will learn to trust each other, work together for a common purpose & influence the local administration.
Having Olari Manor as a model from their community will increase the local esteem & responsibility towards local heritage. The manor will be used as an educational center for kids, this leading to a more civically involved generation.

Why is this idea important to you?

Pro Patrimonio is already working in the Olari community building trust among locals, organizing educational workshops for children, while starting Manor’s gradual conservation and rehabilitation.
Ierburi Uitate (IU) is already working with Olari locals to prepare the experimental garden. IU founded the Historical Garden, a “kitchen” garden of historical inspiration, populated with species consumed before the spread of those from the New World, many abandoned and forgotten now. Its role is to preserve and distribute these species.
East Movies has been involved in cultural, education and civic projects since 2014, working with professionals and communities. On a personal note, Cristina from East Movies is from the area, so she has a personal motive to help the community thrive.

€ 51000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Costs requested from Civic Europe:
- for Activity 1 (experimental garden): 6000 Eur
- for Activity 2 (workshops): 4000 Eur
- for Activity 3 (practical guide and doc): 12000 Eur
Personnel costs (including communication): 13.000 Eur
Total: 35000

Additional costs covered by parteners:
Pro Patrimonio: 7000 Eur
Ierburi Uitate: 2500 Eur
East Movies: 6500 Eur
Total: 16000 Eur

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We’d love feedback from people who already implemented this kind of project. How did you involve the community? What were your challenges? What do you think of our idea? Do you have any feedback on how we can improve it? Do you want to receive the materials that we will produce during the project?


Pro Patrimonio


Cristina Iordache

Idea created on April 11, 2021
Last edit on April 23, 2021

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