Permaculture Projects

Winding down and a Photo Exhibition

Week 27 - ESC Project - The Polyculture Project

The ESC project that we have been co-hosting with Green School Village is drawing to a close, and with it a sense of nostalgia as winter arrives in Shipka. The volunteer team have been absolutely amazing and we wish them well as they start to return home, or onto new ventures. They supported the community of Shipka in so many ways  – helping the elderly in their gardens, improving outside spaces, designing and building polycultures, coordinating the writing of a solidarity project to improve a sports club for the local youth and in their general cheerful attitude to help in whatever way needed :) From their arrival at the end of spring to their departure this winter, the team have experienced all four seasons in Shipka.

This week we have been working hard on preparing an exhibition held at the local mayor’s office, preparations of which have been going on for sometime. A selection of digital and analogue photos taken throughout the experience are on display with the aim of disseminating the project and showing the wide range of activities completed. In the below photo you can see Ruxandra Brad, whose photography and graphic design skills were invaluable in getting the photos on the wall!
Some visitors to the exhibition
Ruxandra also created an info board for The Butterfly Polyculture that the ESC team planted out in the centre of Shipka in October. The graphic contains some basic information about what polyculture planting is, the function of the polyculture design (ie, to attract butterflies) and a little about each of the main plants featured, in both Bulgarian and English.
Markus and Rux creating The Butterfly Polyculture with Veska, the mayor of Shipka
The Info Board
Throughout late summer and autumn we’ve been collecting, drying and storing seeds from various gardens, vegetables that we’ve harvested and also from local people to add to a seed library that was gifted to the community of Shipka. The idea is that of a simple seed exchange – local growers can try to grow some different plants and in exchange bring a seed of their own to add to the stock. Many F1 hybrids are being grown now in the village, but lots of locals spoke with fondness about heirloom varieties of vegetables, and we were able to add some heirloom squash seeds to the collection. It was presented to the mayor and will be housed in the mayor’s office and available for the whole village to access.
To check our photo album of the volunteers’ experiences see here.

Paul Alfrey

Hi I'm Paul, Originally from the UK I moved over to Bulgaria with my family 12 years ago and set up the Balkan Ecology Project. Prior to that, I worked as a freelance Arborist in the UK for 15 years. Balkan Ecology Project is a family project run by myself, Sophie and our two boys Dylan and Archie, and supported by the amazing volunteers we have hosted here over the years. We aim to develop and promote practices that provide nutritious affordable food while enhancing biodiversity and work to achieve this by: - Researching, designing and implementing systems on the ground - Providing working examples of our designs at our sites open for the public to visit - Providing quality education and training to aspiring growers and landscapers - Providing consultancy and design for landowners and farmers across Europe - Practicing an open source policy, whereby we disseminate our results freely and share all aspects of our work - Growing, selling and promoting the use of plants and plant communities that have high ecological and nutritional value Our activities currently include: Biological Plant Nursery, Educational Courses, Local Land Stewardship, Polyculture Research, Market Gardening​, and Consultancy and Design.

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