Sunday, 9 January 2022

Volunteering in Shipka - A Week by Week Diary - ESC Project

We'd like to wish all our friends and supporters a very happy 2022 :) We'll be sending out a newsletter in the next few weeks with a review of last year and plans for this year.

In 2021, we hosted a European Solidarity Corps (ESC) project with a focus was on growing food while enhancing biodiversity and community building through supporting the local mayors team, the elderly residents and the local young people.

Each week we wrote a short record of what we got up to at the project. Here is the week by week diary from the season.

Week by Week Updates
























The volunteers also kept a personal blog of their experiences. To check the photo album see here.

Thank-you


Thank you to Misha and Philip from the Green School Village for coordinating the ESC project. 

We'd also like to thank Sophie from Ura Gora Foundation for being an amazing mentor to the volunteers and for her support of the project in general. 

Much gratitude goes out to Rumyana Stoyanova, Kristiana Karneva, Elitsa Maksimova & Mihail Kossev for their involvement.

Finally....to the volunteers. Thanks x 1000 - it was an absolute pleasure to host you here and an honour and inspiring to meet and work with such a creative and talented group of multinational young people.  The future of our planet seems bright with international bright young things like this around. They all have interesting projects and talents, so check out the links for more info or to connect. Markus from Estonia, Ruxandra from Romania, Tara from Slovenia, Ruhsar from Turkey/The Netherlands, Fanny from France, Hekim from Turkey, Marco from Switzerland and Julian from Germany.

 

Some of the amazing team - from L - R, Ruxandra, Hekim, Ruhsar, Markus & Fanny

If you would like to learn how to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes we'll be running our third Regenerative Landscape Design - Online Interactive Course that starts on May 4th, 2022. 

We're super excited about running the course and look forward to providing you with the confidence, inspiration, and opportunity to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes, gardens, and farms that produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.

You can find out all about the course here and right now we have a 20% discount on the full enrolment fees. Just use the promo code SUB2022 in the section of the registration form to receive your discount.

Regenerative Landscape Design Online Course
 

We are looking forward to providing you with this unique online learning experience - as far as we know the very first of its kind, and if you are thinking of reasons why you should do this course and whether this course is suitable for you, take a look here where we lay it all out. Looking forward to it!


We offer a diversity of plants and seeds for permaculture, forest gardens and regenerative landscapes including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. We Deliver all over Europe from Nov - March. - Give a happy plant a happy home :)

Our Bio-Nursery - Permaculture/Polyculture/ Regenerative Landscape Plants 

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Support Our Project 




If you appreciate the work we are doing you can show your support in several ways.

  • Comment, like, and share our content on social media.



Sunday, 12 December 2021

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, they 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. To see what seed's we have on offer from the Bionursery see here.

If you would like to learn how to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes we'll be running our third Regenerative Landscape Design - Online Interactive Course that starts on May 4th, 2022. 

We're super excited about running the course and look forward to providing you with the confidence, inspiration, and opportunity to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes, gardens, and farms that produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.

You can find out all about the course here and right now we have a 20% discount on the full enrolment fees. Just use the promo code SUB2022 in the section of the registration form to receive your discount.

Regenerative Landscape Design Online Course
 

We are looking forward to providing you with this unique online learning experience - as far as we know the very first of its kind, and if you are thinking of reasons why you should do this course and whether this course is suitable for you, take a look here where we lay it all out. Looking forward to it!


We offer a diversity of plants and seeds for permaculture, forest gardens and regenerative landscapes including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. We Deliver all over Europe from Nov - March. - Give a happy plant a happy home :)

Our Bio-Nursery - Permaculture/Polyculture/ Regenerative Landscape Plants 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Support Our Project 




If you appreciate the work we are doing you can show your support in several ways.

  • Comment, like, and share our content on social media.




Sunday, 5 December 2021

Permaculture Designs - Week 26 - ESC Project - The Polyculture Project

The ESC volunteers had the opportunity to take part in a Permaculture Design course organised by Green School Village during their six month experience. Last Sunday, the group presented their designs and this week we share the presentation of ESC volunteer Fanny Papon. Fanny designed the space for the roof terrace of her apartment in Paris.

















If you would like to learn how to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes we'll be running our third Regenerative Landscape Design - Online Interactive Course that starts on May 4th, 2022. 

We're super excited about running the course and look forward to providing you with the confidence, inspiration, and opportunity to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes, gardens, and farms that produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.

You can find out all about the course here and right now we have a 20% discount on the full enrolment fees. Just use the promo code SUB2022 in the section of the registration form to receive your discount.

Regenerative Landscape Design Online Course
 

We are looking forward to providing you with this unique online learning experience - as far as we know the very first of its kind, and if you are thinking of reasons why you should do this course and whether this course is suitable for you, take a look here where we lay it all out. Looking forward to it!


We offer a diversity of plants and seeds for permaculture, forest gardens and regenerative landscapes including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. We Deliver all over Europe from Nov - March. - Give a happy plant a happy home :)

Our Bio-Nursery - Permaculture/Polyculture/ Regenerative Landscape Plants 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Support Our Project 




If you appreciate the work we are doing you can show your support in several ways.

  • Comment, like, and share our content on social media.






Saturday, 27 November 2021

Elaeagnus - Week 25 - ESC Project - The Polyculture Project





This week the ESC volunteers have been busy completing a Permaculture Design Course organised by Green School Village, as part of  their planned project activities. We're looking forward to seeing their designs at the end of next week and what they come up with. We'll feature some of them in next week's post, along with the wrap up of the ESC project.

This post is going to focus on one of our favourite plant genera, Elaeagnus. When we think about Nitrogen-fixing plants, many of us might think of Elaeagnus which contains around 60 species of evergreen and deciduous shrubs.  We're going to look at three of our favourite plants and at what might help us to decide which one to choose for any given design. For a closer look at how Nitrogen Fixation works see our previous post here.


Elaeagnus angustfolia - Oleaster, Russian Olive



Overview: A deciduous large shrub or small tree growing to approximately 7m high and 7m wide, it is the largest of the three Elaeagnus species featured in this post. Hardy to zone 2 it can tolerate part shade, salt and air pollution. It is drought tolerant with thorny branches although there are many named varieties some of which are thornless. Leaves are willow-like in appearance. Sweet-smelling flowers appear in June with yellowish-silvery fruits ripening in October. The plants begin to flower and fruit from three years old and are really tolerant of pruning. Fruits hang on the plant for much of the winter providing a valuable source of winter food for birds. The fruit is readily eaten and disseminated by many species of birds. This species is considered invasive in the United States.




Uses: Thorny habit makes this plant a great choice for hedges and tolerance to maritime exposure means it's a good plant to consider in coastal regions. The flowers are attractive to bees and other beneficial organisms so may be used as a companion plant. We have used this plant as an understory shrub on a south-facing edge in our forest garden and to take advantage of its drought tolerance, in a dry bed on the outside of the property.  In our experience, it is the most drought tolerant of the three species. Classified by USDA as being a high nitrogen fixer.


 Elaeagnus x ebbingei - Ebbinge's silverberry 


 

E. x ebbinge in autumn. In severe winters there may be a degree of leaf loss

Overview: A medium evergreen shrub that is a hybrid species typically growing to 5m high and 5m wide but  Hardy to USDA  zone 5. Can tolerate deeper shade than the other two species featured in our experience. It is drought tolerant with smooth branches and stems that are a reddish brown in colour. Leaves are dark green, often with a silvery appearance.  Flowers are scented and appear in the autumn with ripening fruit ready the following spring. Fruit production can be variable with this plant, possibly due to the fact it flowers at a time when there aren't as many pollinators about, but more likely due to the fact that we regularly trim the ornamental bushes in our home garden. As Elaeagnus x ebbingei flowers and fruits most freely on the current year's growth, if the plants are trimmed in the growing season, fruiting potential will be lost. 

The fruit of Elaeagnus x ebbinge


Uses: The tender and soft shoots make excellent biomass and are trimmed and applied as mulch under the productive plants in the forest garden. The dense form means you can harvest a good quantity from pruning. Flowers in the autumn provide late nectar/pollen to pollinators. Fruits are attractive red berries produced in the spring and are very pleasant when fully ripe. High ornamental value, and evergreen, which is useful when creating a privacy screen. Can be used in hedging for this purpose. The dense, shrub-like form provides nesting habitat for birds. Makes an excellent stand-alone ornamental.


Elaeagnus umbellata - Autumn Olive

 



Overview: A large deciduous shrub growing 4.5m high and 4.5m wide, hardy to zone 3. It
tolerates part shade and is very drought tolerant. Branches are often thorny while leaves are bright green, silvery beneath. Yellowish white, fragrant flowers, are produced in May-June attracting many beneficial organisms.  Round, silvery brown (ripening red) fruits appear in Sep-Oct, and it's often a battle between us and the birds as to who gets them first. Although quite fiddly to eat, they are delicious when fully ripe and are sometimes cultivated exclusively for their edible fruit. There are many named cultivars. Plants can fruit in 6 yrs from seed. Like Elaeagnus angustifolia, this species is considered weedy in the U.S. The species is classified by USDA as being a MEDIUM  nitrogen fixer

Uses:  The plant is used as a nurse tree, when planted with fruit trees it is reported to increase the overall yield of the orchard by 10%. It's a great hedging plant and is also fairly wind tolerant. A candidate for coastal regions as can tolerate maritime exposure. The fruit of E. umbellata is probably my favourite of all three plants and seems to reliably fruit prolifically. As the birds adore the berries, there is a significant increase in numbers to the garden when the berries are ripe.

Reliable yields from E. umbellata


Nitrogen Fixing Hedges

A Nitrogen fixing hedge supplies a significant biological source of Nitrogen and biomass, habitat for wildlife including a number of beneficial species, and makes an excellent living boundary/fence on the perimeter of a site or as a subdivision within a site.

The hedge below is composed of three or more different species of Nitrogen-fixing shrubs, and it's possible to use any of the above Elaeagnus plants, depending on the specifics of your site and preference.

Below is a design illustration of a mature Nitrogen fixing hedge composed of Caragana arborescens, Elaeagnus umbellata and Cytisus scoparius.  


If you would like to learn how to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes we'll be running our third Regenerative Landscape Design - Online Interactive Course that starts on May 4th, 2022. 

We're super excited about running the course and look forward to providing you with the confidence, inspiration, and opportunity to design, build and manage regenerative landscapes, gardens, and farms that produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.

You can find out all about the course here and right now we have a 20% discount on the full enrollment fees. Just use the promo code SUB2022 in the section of the registration form to receive your discount.

Regenerative Landscape Design Online Course
 

We are looking forward to providing you with this unique online learning experience - as far as we know the very first of its kind, and if you are thinking of reasons why you should do this course and whether this course is suitable for you, take a look here where we lay it all out. Looking forward to it!


We offer a diversity of plants and seeds for permaculture, forest gardens and regenerative landscapes including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. We Deliver all over Europe from Nov - March. - Give a happy plant a happy home :)

Our Bio-Nursery - Permaculture/Polyculture/ Regenerative Landscape Plants 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Support Our Project 




If you appreciate the work we are doing you can show your support in several ways.

  • Comment, like, and share our content on social media.