Persistence and change in subsistence farming in Transylvania

By Tibor Hartel

These pictures represent subsistence farming in a Transylvanian village in two years: 2011 (early June) and 2012 (late June).



Note the high diversity of various crops used in a small field: maize, potato, tomato, onion and other ‘crops’ are produced in this small parcel of land in both years. However, they have different configurations (i.e. relative amounts) in the two years. This small scale rotation is needed because the subsistence farmers know: it is important to give some space to the soil to rest.

On the left and right sides you can see fields with alfalfa. These are also arable fields but temporarily left for rest. Alfalfa is used by farmers to allow soil to regenerate (alfalfa increases the nitrogen content in the soil). Alfalfa has high nutritional value for animals. The ‘haystocks’ on the left were made in traditional way while those on the right in modern way.

In the back pasture and forest is evident and also a wood pasture on the left side.
This is a potentially good way to fit persistence and change in traditional agricultural systems in order to assure sustainability of the agricultural production. Of course, this landscape was designed for ‘few stomachs’, relatively low dependency on money and a world where people generally had more time – quite important details I guess.

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