Environmental Training Center
The EcoVisio Training Center (ETC) is a joint project of EcoVisio and Eco-Village Moldova, with the goal of creating a regional hub for practical education in the fields of organic agriculture, energy efficiency, eco-construction and community development.
Located in the village of Rîșcova, Criuleni district (Moldova), the ETC serves as a demo and resource platform for sustainable development, allowing change-makers from Moldova and abroad to exchange innovative ideas and learn about permaculture, natural building, water management, climate change, social entrepreneurship, civic engagement and more. Over the past years, our small trainings held here have already sparked up initiatives throughout Moldova, such as urban gardens, eco-houses and youth-driven community projects. The ETC has a great contribution to expanding our capacity & impact.
The ETC can host seminars and workshops with up to 50 people, and provide accommodation for around 10 people. The building also includes a large industrial kitchen, to provide catering for seminars, but also to host cooking workshops, in particular vegetarian cooking. The overall size is around 200 m2. The ETC was built following the principles of eco-construction, using passive solar methods. Its main structure consists of a wood frame and clay plastered reed walls. The majority of materials used were of natural original, obtained from the local area, and the construction work itself provided paid jobs for the villagers.
Since 2016, the ETC has been home to many environmental education and civic engagement seminars organized by EcoVisio (and not only), for both local and international communities. The official grand opening took place on October 28th 2018, in a community event attended by EcoVisio's staff, alumni, friends and strategic partners, but also plenty of villagers and new faces who wanted to know the Eco-Village first hand (photos from the event here).
We were lucky enough to also be joined by representatives of the ETC's main sponsors and supporters: Liechtenstein Development Service (LED), Sweden (through the Embassy of Sweden in Chișinău) and the Rîșcova Town Hall. Below is a diagram illustrating all sources of funding that went into building the EcoVisio Training Center.How it all started
The first steps towards building the ETC were taken in the winter of 2015. Despite freezing temperatures, the natural construction adventure started with harvesting reed from the nearby lake. Thanks to the generous contributions collected on the GlobalGiving Crowdfunding Platform, the team hired 10 villagers and an eco-transportation vehicle – good old horse cart – then harvested all the reed needed to super-insulate the Center. The material was tested in 2015 on a residential house and the results were astonishing: reed proved to be an extremely effective building material that is also local, economical, carbon-negative and energy-efficient!
In spring 2016, the construction of the small workshop building was finalized, and it immediately went into use for hosting several events:
March-April 2016: activLocal (“Harap Alb”) program – a series of seminars focused on small project development for kids from the local school. As a result, children from grades 5-7th organized a river clean-up, planted over 1000 willow trees and fixed up the local stadium so they could practice sports.
April 17th 2016: Organic Gardening Workshop that brought together about 50 participants of all ages and explored the topics of organic vs. hybrid seeds, companion planting and soil protection. More photos here.
May 24-29th 2016: Impulse Seminar for the program "activEco - sustainability in action” – a one-week training meant to empower 16 young people from Moldova and Ukraine, so that they could implement environmental projects in their own communities. More photos here.
June 25th 2016: Fifth Annual Meeting of program coordinators from the Theodor-Heuss-Kolleg (THK) international network, who used this meet-up as an opportunity to explore the topic of sustainability. It brought together over 70 participants from Germany, Russia, Serbia, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Egypt, Tunis and, of course, Moldova. More photos here.
July 30th 2016: Workshop on Upcycling Old Clothing - weaving carpets, making toys, crafting pin cushions…so many ways in which old clothes could be upcycled into new useful items! All were explored during a wonderful exchange of ideas and handicraft tips between Natalka and the workshop participants! More photos here.
August 6th 2016: Eco-Construction Workshop - Lots of fun, mass-media and muddy hands while learning how to build cob walls, apply clay plaster and weave reed mats. More photos here.
August 13th 2016: Organic Gardening Workshop: Taking care of plants in summertime - learning how to protect our plants and soil from the summer heat, what can be planted in August, whether there are natural methods we can use to protect the garden from pests, etc. - a practical gardening workshop with Nadejda Gori from Gori's Tomatoes.
August 16-18th 2016: EcoVisio Strategic Development Workshop - an intensive 2,5 day team meeting with a goal to re-define our organizational Vision, Mission, Strategy, Programs, Membership Structure and Decision Making, and think together how to improve the quality of joint work and the impact. And of course, also spending quality time together in a cozy atmosphere close to the nature. More photos here.
August 21th 2016: Vegetarian Cooking Workshop - with Mariana Seremet, founder of the association "Grădina Moldovei" and participant of activEco 2016, and Rita Cerneavschi, activEco 2015 alumna and a great vegan/vegetarian cook. Participants learned how to prepare tasty vegetarian dishes and smoothies, and tasted more than 10 types of vegetal oil!
September 2016: Final Seminar of the international Erasmus+ course ”Actors of Transition”
September 24th 2016: Solar Dehydrator Building Workshop and interactive presentation of the Seed It Forward initiative - talking about effective use of solar energy in our daily life in order to preserve fruits and vegetables in winter and learning to build a solar dehydrator. We also discovered the activities of the Seed It Forward initiative, identifying and gathering various types of trees and seeds, tasting dried fruits from a mobile dehydrator and enjoying vegetarian food. More photos on Seed It Forward's website or Seed It Forward Facebook page.
November 2016: a series of planting actions in and around village Riscova: 5th November - 100 volunteers, including alumni of various programs implemented by "EcoVisio", with guidance from Seed It Forward initiative and support from a number of partners, planted over 700 trees as an act against a severe land degradation process; 6th November - planting poplars along the village stadium; later in the month - planting trees and bushes in the emerging village park together with pupils from local school; more is to follow!
Building Solar Dehydrator workshops for villagers - at the Eco-Village and Rîșcova library. The workshop on solar dehydration that took place in September wasn't the only one - later, the same activEco 2016 alumnus who organized it, Ivan Rabei, held several more sessions on the benefits of dehydrating, and built one dehydrator for the local library - all the while, engaging villagers of all ages and sharing his skills with them. More photos here.
In 2017, Eco-Village Moldova and the ETC became even busier, with almost no week passing without some kind event (or two, or three)!
March 4-5th 2017: hosting a teambuilding meeting of the Țara Verde team (promoting environmental awareness, and especially recycling, in the North of Moldova) - they came to strengthen their team spirit, and succeeded greatly, while also leaving a part of this spirit in Rîșcova. More photos here.
March 7th 2017: a monitoring and guiding visit from the GlobalGiving platform, where part of the funds for the construction of Eco-Training Center has been raised. Skye, a representative of GlobalGiving, had an enjoyable tour through Rîșcova, visiting not just the Eco-Village, but also the local library, learning about the scale and impact of common activities realized by the Eco-Village and Rîșcova Public Library team. She of course also visited the Training Center's site, dispensing some valuable advice for further fundraising.
March 15-19th 2017: Basic Mentoring Training for mentors of non-formal education programs from Moldova and Ukraine. More photos here.
In April 2017, EcoVisio, together with Eco-Village Moldova and Seed It Forward, launched a new program dedicated to spreading practices of organic agriculture and building a community of responsible farmers - ActiveOrganic. The program had 6 modules - two-day practical seminars for interested people from all over Moldova, which took part from May to October 2017 and covered topics such as the basics of organic agriculture and permaculture, soil protection and restoration, production of organic fertilizers, ecological plant protection, Community Supported Agriculture, social / rural entrepreneurship, water resources and sustainable irrigation, solar dehydrators, apiculture, etc. Some of the modules included study visits to EcoVisio's partners, such as Eco-Răzeni, Grădina Moldovei and Gori's Tomatoes, but most of the sessions took place at the ETC with internal and external experts. More photos and info here.
May 19-21th 2017: 2nd activEco-2017 Challenge Workshop dedicated to "Green Mobility". More photos here.
And throughout all of these events and the ones that followed, the ETC kept growing!
Services currently provided by the Environmental Training Center:
The generous support of donors and individuals helped build the EcoVisio Training Center. Now, we have a conference room that can fit up to 50 people, along with a well-equipped kitchen, dining area and a few bedrooms. The entire project cost almost $80,000. See below the entire range of services currently offered by the Eco-Village (including our ETC):