2014 Photo Contest, Observed Portraits, Stories, 3rd prize

Transylvania: Built on Grass


Rena Effendi

INSTITUTE for National Geographic magazine

03 November, 2012

Andrei Rus (12) relaxes in his father’s palinca still in the village of Strâmtura. Palinca is a local fruit brandy, which can be as much as 58-proof.

In Transylvania and other remote areas of Romania, many people farm on a small scale, in ways unchanged for centuries. Their farms have among the lowest yields in Europe, but also some of the highest levels of self-sufficiency. Lack of money and suspicion of unfamiliar methods mean that few chemicals and artificial fertilizers are used.

Farming families can expect an income of around €4,000 a year, often supplemented with earnings from other sources. Many are abandoning their farms for at least part of the year to work in cities abroad. Romania’s 2007 entry into the European Union also threatens this traditional way of life, as farmers cannot compete with European imports, and the small size of farms means they are not eligible for EU subsidies.

About the photographer

Rena Effendi

Rena Effendi was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, and grew up in the USSR, witnessing her country’s path to independence—one marred by war, political instability, and economic collapse....

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