Last month we met in the garden of one member of Cooperativa Miere de Câmpie from Sic, digging genuine stories, honey, and local products. The event was highly appreciated by the community, and, for this reason, we’ve talked with our colleagues about how everything started, why you should not miss such an event, and what are the challenges for a beekeeper.
How did it start Cooperativa Agricolă Miere de Câmpie? What needs were identified and what were the proposals for the issues?
Cooperativa Agricolă Miere de Câmpie from Sic was launched in 2015 at the initiative of the Civitas Foundation and 9 beekeepers with apiaries from Transylvania Plain area. The needs that started this project were represented by the access to the honey products market and by the development of the technological packaging facilities. Our role was to provide technical expertise for maturing and developing the new entity created.
In this context, Glasul ‘Nost appeared- a tea box that, besides medicinal plants, contains locally produced honey. The initiative seeks to encourage the consumption of local products and the development of the rural economy. Does this measure influences the people consuming behaviors? They will consume more local products and will become more responsible?
Glasul ‘Nost is about the small producers and local economy. This initiative involves three local producers: Cooperativa Agricolă Miere de Câmpie, Paqstudio, and a medicinal plants cultivator. The story of the tea box is about supporting the local producers and an alternative option with local, natural and healthy products. The messages of the box – Look into your heart, Take your time, Don’t forget about your heart remind us about the important things in life, encouraging people to be aware of those aspects. Buying those tea boxes, you give trust and sense to a producer, and, at the same time, you make a gift to a loved one. A gift which involves local producers from sources that you trust.
After all, food is a very important part of the culture whether we talk about a place or a person. What are the local products saying about people who live in Transylvania?
The local products from Transylvania are influenced by biodiversity and different consumer habits. Beyond the common elements found in the area, we can remark the influence of Saxon and Hungarian minorities. There are many places which surprise you with unusual recipes made from local products. An example is the Sic village from Cluj where beside the famous huruth soup, you can eat an entire menu with stuffed cabbage (sarmale) and cheese pies after local recipes. The producers and the homemakers are very disciplined when came to keeping this diversity, but also happy when consumers appreciate their products.
Last month, a member of Cooperativa Agricolă Miere de Câmpie hosted a picnic in his garden, the event involving numerous local experiences. Why someone should not miss such an event?
First and foremost, because of silence, food and good honey. There are few beehouses left in Istvan garden, which were not moved to the apiary from outside the village. The beehouses are inactive, but people can see with their own eyes how they look like. Next, to the beehouses, there is a fruit garden which belongs to the church and the view from there is very spectacular. You can watch every house, every establishment and understand the pulse of the village. Sic is a cosmopolitan village. There are many people who left to work in Cluj-Napoca or Budapest, and this influences the entire village. They still keep their outfit and the specific architecture of the houses. You should definitely see this.
How does a regular day for a honey producer look like?
Like any other profession, the apiculture forms the people beyond the required competencies. The beekeepers are patient and consistent people. When their work takes place in the apiary, their day is slow, any fast movement is bad for the bees. From the disinfection of the hives, the breeding of the nest, to collecting honey and pollen, every step should be made with care. The bees gather pollen, turning it into honey – their meal – which are willing to share with us. This generosity should be rewarded with care. For instance, the hive needs to be carefully taken care of, through applied treatments and keeping it clean. Centrifuging honeycombs, heating (if necessary) and bottling are equally important steps since each gram counts in this process.
What is the biggest challenge for a producer when it came to distribution, marketing, and customer care?
It’s not easy to be a beekeeper. In the last five years, the bees were affected by the climate changes and by conditions like varooza, a disease which affects them from the larval stage. It’s important to be aware of this process even if we are just consumers. Although there have been several grants and investment projects in production and processing, we can’t conclude that apiculture is on an upward trend regarding the income source.
Cooperativa Agricolă Miere de Câmpie has good logistics, but doesn’t have a constant activity – the lots are small and sometimes it is difficult to market them. Most marketing challenges come from the internal organization of the cooperative. From the DSVSA authorization to the establishment of favorable commercial conditions, attention and consistency are needed. The competition is primarily based on the price. Moreover, the Romanian consumers are not very enthusiastic about apiculture products. In this context, a good and well-promoted product is needed.