The Organic Art RanchWhere the clouds are born
A multimedia feature by Benjamin Eckert
It's part of a small traditional Romanian village, surrounded by deep forests, vast blueberry fields and wild animals.
About 12 years ago, the Mexican inmigrant Roger bought the property on a steep hillside and moved to a small house with no electricity and running water.
“Hopefully we can make a small change in people’s lives in order for them to be a great change in the world.”
Around two thirds of the visitors are from Europe, since Romania became part of the European Union in 2007.
And they can experience a diverse community with people from all over the world. The youngest volunteer at the Ranch was 16 and the oldest around 56 years old.
Like Brahm from the United States. In the summer of 2018 he stayed for three weeks and helped Roger with construction work. Brahm learned about timber framing and realized how fulfilling it is for him to live in the community:
"I will come back for sure. For me it's not gonna be easy to stay in the city anymore", he says.
Still the life at the Ranch is quite simple and pure. The accommodation is basic, daily activities mostly take place outdoors and many tasks require physical work.
"If I'd be working all day, I'd be back to city life. And I chose to live here for a reason", Roger says.
Animals need to be fed and protected of predators, the plants in the garden need to be cultivated and the buildings to be maintained.
Life goes by the pace of nature – like it always did in this part of Romania.
But they also struggle with changes that are quickly reaching Romania like many other pristine regions in Europe.
Locals can see it when they look out of their centuries-old houses: the destruction of the environment and the deforestation are omnipresent. And the westernization of Romania threatens its diverse cultural heritage.
Roger and Zsuzsi try to support their village community, so that young people don't have to leave it anymore. Visitors of the Ranch don't stay in a fancy guesthouse but in a traditional room with basic comfort and an impressive view. Work materials and food mostly are bought from the neighbors.
The first frost in October points to the end of the year. In autumn already less people reach the hill and in winter season work nearly becomes impossible. All the tools and materials just freeze.
In the following year, when the snow starts to melt, they will come back to their Ranch.
To "the place, where the clouds are born", how they call it.