Week 22 – Solidarity for the local library and Welcome Chloé @Venets!



In this week, the focus was mostly on preparing the Red House on receiving new ESC volunteer Chloé from France, who would arrive just in time to join the library’s celebration on Saturday. And in the week after, Misha and Philip would bring along Paula from Spain.

This is our new volunteer Chloé from France, she is taking a gap year to learn more about permaculture and she loves dancing in the garden :

So together with Tichomir, the volunteer coordinator in Boston Bair (the huge piece of land one hour away from Todorovo) who visited for a night, the two of us made three extra beds out of pallets. Then together with Renzo we attached a closet to the wall into the hallway to finally have a good place for keeping all the little stuff, books, papers etc. that were lying around.

And as promised to Galya, the library’s coordinator, at the end of the week we joined her in some of the preparations of the library and theater’s celebration day. Galya organised this day to raise money for the renovation of the theater’s ceiling (a big and expensive project!). During two afternoons we helped her in the theater hall with hanging up huge curtains above the stage which had been washed and repaired. We cleaned windows that hadn’t been cleaned for fifty years (?), swept and mopped the floors downstairs and up on the balcony, giving a good cleanse to the ancient and dusty chairs, all the while dancing to loud, modern Bulgarian folk music. Not many people from the village came out to help in the library, which was a bit sad to notice. Also I realised we were so busy cleaning that we didn’t take any photos as a proof 😉 but as I was the photographer for the library’s event, I knew I could make up with many colourful pics! On the event itself, many people came from far and wide. While I was finding the best corners to take various shots, the others of the Venets team were selling homemade lemonade and hot chocolate. Catherine had also donated some conserves and veggies to sell, to support the collection of funds.


The various traditional dance and music performances really impressed me. With beautiful costumes on, the youngest of the youngest and eldest of the eldest brought finally some life back to the village square.

With my camera I was trying to catch not only these ancient sounds and movements in image but also the expressions on people’s faces, of proud grandparents in the audience, of the group of girlfriends waiting for their show to happen, the men in the back drinking their beer and enjoying their sausage from the barbecue…

I really have missed taking part in such communal events, where you see a people’s culture and customs awaken, some well preserved costumes and songlines dusted off, waiting for such a moment to shine and give both performers and spectators a little peek into their own cultural (historical) richness. In the last photo, you see Chloé and Renzo shining bright with the sweet ‘cat lady’ who lives across the street of the Red House and two other village men. A little magic, when people of different cultures and backgrounds meet without speaking each other’s language, but finding other ways to connect and smile 🙂

(photos credits: Mali Boomkens)

Chloé :

During that day, we had to prepare some baskets and drinks for the local gathering, as well as the veggie boxes with Catherine.

First, we have gone to do some groceries to prepare some drinks that would be sold at the local gathering in order to finance the local library. We bought milk and cocoa to do hot chocolate as well as lemon lemonade.

Then, we had to prepare the veggie boxes. We started by sorting out all the beans, as well as the grapes and the cherry tomatoes because some of them were rotten. We also collected veggies such as zucchini from the other farm. Then we cleaned the beetroots and grapes, and we picked up and made some bushes of thym, basil and rosemary. We also made some bags with tea and garlic. Once all the veggies were ready to pack, we weighted each element to put in the boxes as we have small and big formats.

We also made two very nice presentation basket to be put on the dancing stage at the local gathering later on the afternoon. We displayed veggies from Venets as well as some nice flowers, onions and garlic. We wanted to promote as well the vegetables and condiments that could be found in Venets.


Once this was done we went to the event, set up the drinks and baskets and were ready to enjoy. It was nicely decorated, and I enjoyed a lot seeing all those people smiling, sharing a moment of joy all together and wearing those beautiful traditional clothes. Also, I  feel grateful that I had the opportunity to see traditional dances and singing from Bulgaria. Men and women, from all ages, were present and it made this event even more touching. We met with a local lady that people call “cat lady” and her joy and smile were infectious.

I enjoyed my first days in Todorovo: I got familiar with the garden, started to learn about perennial and seeding, as well as some cooking recipes with the preserved foods. I got to meet with Catherine and the ESC volunteers team, who I liked a lot and we shared nice moment all together. One night, I cooked a risotto for us using fresh basil from the garden, it was delicious 🙂




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