WEEK 6 – And then there were 3…and the tipi!

Hi, there! Filipa here 🙂

Last time I wrote on the blog, I was reporting from the very first week of my 6-month long-term ESC with Green School Village, where I had the chance to do my on-arrival training in the beautiful village of Kromidovo and where I had the opportunity to finally be in touch with Permaculture into practice. I was also able to introduce myself so you could have a little bit of insight into my background and experience in the realm of climate justice activism and all round climate change.

After taking Sunday as my personal break, we can dive into my second week here as I spend the days in Kromidovo helping my hosting organization prepare for a Permaculture event during the on-arrival training of our new member – Ewan (scroll down for his presentation), while getting more practical knowledge on Permaculture and gardening.

On Monday, after taking the dogs for a walk around the village, I spent some time in the morning collecting two types of mint that the hosts had in the garden, since the main project was to make mint sauce. The procedure wasn’t that difficult: we collected around 120 gr of each type of mint, and after removing the spikes from it, leaving only the leaves, we put everything in the food processor with the help of the liquid that was going to be part of the sauce (we heated up various different types of vinegar, from normal white, through red wine, to apple cider vinegar – to get different results – and sugar on a saucepan) and then blended it to be conserved in the fridge. After that, we had the Monday meeting with the hosts and the coordinators of the project so we could schedule our week, as a new volunteer was going to join us and Vyara was on a vacation.

Later on that day, I picked lemon balm so we could use it in a tincture – we had 200 grams of lemon balm nicely chopped in the food processor and mixed that with Medicinal Rakia that the hosts had. The tincture is supposed to stay in a closed dark space for 6 weeks to reach its full potential and later be used for its healing properties. Finally, my last task of the day was to refurbish an old cauldron that needed a deep clean so it could be used as a planting pot. I also painted some of the handles and ornaments in black, to give it a fresh look while preserving its natural features.

Mint picking, separating the spikes and cauldron refurbishment

On Tuesday, we went to take the dogs again for a longer walk, and my main task during the morning was to pick chamomile from the garden, as it was in full bloom. The main idea this week was to pick the herb at a different time of the day (later) so we could observe it after drying and compare which one preserves fully the properties and its healing components – the one picked in the morning or in the afternoon.

In the afternoon, I painted the cauldron again, with a second coat so it could have a better aspect. As I mentioned in my presentation last week, I really like to draw so the hosts had the perfect project for me: to idealize a concept for me to paint one side of the caravan they have parked in the front yard. Their main idea for it was to blend it in with its natural background, so I tried to implement this in my draft with the chamomile I was picking, the plants that were growing nearby and the surrounding mountains. Since we are going to help the hosts with a Permaculture work meeting of the Green School Village at the end of the month and people are coming from all over Europe, the outside working area needed a deep cleaning so after 2h30, the place was like new, ready to be used!

Exploring the area while walking the dogs, chamomile picking and the newly cleaned outside area with an improvised screen

On Wednesday morning, I was cleaning and weeding the garden beds in the front yard’s field (near the composting toilet) that are going to be used to plant some herbs and vegetables the hosts are seedling. During the afternoon, since some guests left the upper floor, where we are staying, I cleaned the kitchen, the bedroom, the living room and the big balcony, so everything was ready to receive new people – our coordinators, Vyara and the new member of the team – Ewan.

Cleaning the garden beds and a big doggo (Karakachanska shepherd dog) for emotional support

On Thursday morning, weeding the garden beds near the outside lounging area was on the menu for my plan of activities. That area had not been cleaned yet this season, so it was important to remove all the weeds that were there. We then proceeded to wet the soil, since it was really dry and we mixed the homemade compost which was 3 years old. Finally, when everything was cleared and ready to be used again, we planted some baby New Zealand spinach that was sprouting beautifully. We made the garden bed dog-proof with a net (a very important strategy with pets in the garden).

In the afternoon, I helped the hosts run some errands in the nearby city and do some shopping. The other two volunteers arrived in Kromidovo, and after a lovely dinner together, we used the outside lounging area to put up a projector and we watched the movie “The Year when Earth changed” with Permaculture foundations discussion.

Cleaning the garden beds for putting the spinach babies

On the day that I am writing this, Friday, during the morning I repotted some basil with the mixture of homemade compost and store bought compost that is going to be in the cauldron I refurbished. Alongside that, I repotted more basil into small pots. The rest of the morning was spent on setting up the tipi and its shade structures for the guests of the event.

The afternoon was spent organizing all the journaling I have been doing (I thank Misha for giving me a journal and the idea of writing every day what I have been doing, since it is much easier to organize my life and what to write on the blog, alongside to maintain all the knowledge that I’ve been learning in an informal way) and writing on the blog.

Repotting the basil into small pots, into a big one and helping set up the tipi

I hope you had an amazing week, see you next week 🙂

Continuing the trend of the previous blog post, another new member has joined the team this week… Hi everybody, I’m Ewan, I’m 25 years old and from Manchester in the UK! I do, however, have residency in Poland, hence my eligibility to take part in this volunteering project. I feel very lucky in this sense, as if it weren’t for this residency, I wouldn’t have been given this amazing opportunity to take part in the Green School Village program (thanks Brexit).

So, a bit about me. I am actually fairly new to the world of Permaculture. I have no previous work or academic experience in the field, but I was assured that this would not be an issue, and that this program would be the perfect place to start. My educational background actually consists of an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Newcastle University in the UK. Psychology is a topic I am still very passionate about, and I’m always reading books and studies related to this field. In terms of work, for the last two and a half years I have been working as an ESL (English as a second language) teacher in Poland, having moved there in January 2020. My timing wasn’t ideal, as 6 weeks after my arrival, Poland went into lockdown.

One of my only solaces during the pandemic was the opportunity to escape the city for a few months to my parents’ house in the countryside. Being out there in nature made me realize that, sooner or later, I’ll hopefully end up living in a similar place, with my own land and producing my own food. I believe this opportunity will give me an insight into how to achieve this dream, and how to live in harmony with the natural world around us. As I mentioned before, Permaculture is a topic in which I have little knowledge, but one that I would love to learn more about, as I believe it’s necessary for as many people as possible to adopt this sort of lifestyle, for the benefit of our planet.

Moving on to my arrival in Bulgaria, I was greeted by Misha, Philip and Philip’s mum Ivelina at their place in Sofia. After a 16-hour door-to-door journey from Warsaw, the amazing food cooked by Ivelina and the homemade wine from a local village was just what I needed. Misha and Philip had just returned from a protest against the war in Ukraine in front of the Russian embassy, so we spent the evening discussing different topics related to this and to the project. The next day mainly consisted of administrative tasks, as well as my on-arrival training from Misha, which squashed any fears and insecurities I had about my inexperience in the field, and reassured me that I had made the right decision to join this project.

On-arrival training and chilling with Belka!

In the evening, Ivelina taught me how to deseed red peppers, and we proceeded to stuff these red peppers with goat’s cheese from the Farmer’s market nearby to create a very simple, yet delicious Bulgarian snack.


Preparing the peppers for the червени чушки със сирене (red peppers stuffed with white cheese)

The next day, we went to meet some members of an organization helping Ukrainians in Bulgaria that Misha had met at the protest a few days earlier. We brought food and informed some of the members and some of the people visiting the center about the project, with the proposition to some of them to join us as there are many young (18-30 years old) refugees currently in Bulgaria that can do their ESC funded project with us.

With some of the volunteers and refugees at Мати Украйна (Mother Ukraine), Sofia.

In the afternoon, I started working on this blog and I had some more on-arrival training, a session on reporting requirements with Misha and Filipa. This session was very useful, as it gave me more knowledge on the seven key competencies of the YouthPass, and how I can work on these skills during the project. 

The following few days saw us delving even further into the world of permaculture, with various different activities. We had a session and an exercise about Permaculture history and ethics, which consisted of some very useful background information about permaculture, and some interesting exercises about how to apply these principles in different areas of life. One evening, we were shown a great documentary, part of the HOME docu-series. This show documented how one family in Sweden, inspired by the ideas of eco-architect Bengt Warne, built a traditional Swedish log cabin encased in a greenhouse. This allowed them to live a self-sustainable lifestyle, and this generated some interesting discussion afterward between me and the other volunteers about the potential pros and cons of this kind of way of living.

As the name of this blog post suggests, one of the more practical activities I had the pleasure of taking part in this week was putting up a tipi. This tipi is made of all-natural materials, wooden poles which were sustainably sourced, canvas made from 100% cotton, and traditional wooden style pegs. This style of tent is ideal for spending time in nature. The oval design is bright and well ventilated, cool in the summer, warm in the winter, very stable in the wind, and there is even the possibility of having a fire inside.

Setting up the tipi – before and after.

To finish off a great first week, we decided to go for a walk at a local waterfall. During the pleasant stroll up to the start of the waterfall, we stopped to do a bit of birdwatching, identify different mushrooms and butterflies, and search for a nearby geocache. On our way back down, we did some litter picking, to make the trail a more pleasant place for other walkers.

Identifying butterflies, geocaching, and litter-picking at Yavornishki waterfall.

Anyway, I’ll sign off here by saying I can’t wait to get stuck in with the project, so stay tuned for more updates! Oh, and here are the links to the organization MATI Ukraine and our project, in case anyway wants to get involved with either… Solidarity with Ukraine! We stand with Ukraine!



Also, this is the Facebook page of the Ukrainian Permaculture association, where you can see all the activities and campaigns they are having at the moment and need urgent help with – https://www.facebook.com/PermacultureUkraine/

Hello, hello! It`s Vyara …again!

Great day for it! I love summers like these

Most of last week I spent in Ireland, helping a friend set up his organic market garden. I, therefore, did not actively participate in the activities (spiritually I was still in Kromidovo 😉 ) . I joint the team just before the weekend.

Bluebells are in full bloom in Ireland at the moment 

Transplanting seedlings in the greenhouse, while it is raining cats and dogs outside

On Thursday, I met up with Misha, Philip and Ewan in Sofia and we travelled to Kromidovo together, sorry for snoring in the car guys! 😀 We were welcomed by Sara, John and Filipa, had a lovely dinner together, watched ‘’The year the Earth changed’’ and had some heated discussions afterwards.

Friday is usually our reflection and dissemination day, but as I was absent almost all week I spent some time with Ewan preparing the blog post for the week and giving him some instructions and guidance about the process. Youthpass was another thing we discussed and worked on.

As our group is growing and we are three people now, it was time to start with the essence of the project- learning about permaculture.  We watched a three-part interview with David Holmgren (you can find the first part here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUA0204Ddcs), we discussed what were the most impactful things from the video, what the three pillars of permaculture are. We finished the sessions with an exercise: each of us picked a well-known establishment in the city and ways we can implement the three pillars of permaculture into these buildings.

Working hard! 

During the weekend we went for a mini-hike and exploration session of the area and of course, our mandatory litter picking! We finished the week with our first sharing circle (around the campfire yay!) where each of us shared our experience of the project so far.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s post and welcome to the team Ewan!


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