Fallow land


Romania seems to be largely lying fallow. Despite some half-hearted maize crops (presumably for cattle feed) and some impressive backyard vegetable gardens most of the agricultural land seems to be covered in unimproved pasture. There are few farm animals except for flocks of sheep attended by shepherds. The fresh produce available in markets attests to the presence of market gardens but we haven’t seen them. There are many abandoned orchards (plums, pears and apples). From a passing vantage point it is romantic to see the grass being scythed, raked, carted, stacked and carted again but how much ends up in ruminant stomachs? The land must be fertile. The Danube brings alluvium from Western Europe and rivers from the Carpathians must be doing the same for the rest of the country. Ceausescu reportedly considered agriculture too low status and it was abandoned in favour of an unpromising manufacturing industry. There’s lot’s of space here. Some modern farming could produce a lot of food (and money).

Contryside near Sibiu looking towards the Fargaras mountains

Still, you don’t need much agriculture to maintain the locally-preferred beer and cigarettes diet-cheap and available. At Lake Balea we saw three healthy, outdoorsy men consuming beer with pinch of salt (1 litre/person) + spirit chasers + coffee for breakfast.

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