Youth Exchange “Farewell to spring in Pirin”

As a second part of the project “Mountains connecting people” youngsters from Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo and Russia (Republic of Mari El) are gathering in the Bulgarian “eco-village” Debeli Dab, in Stara Kresna village, close to the mountains of Pirin.

After the intensive work connected with Climate change and climate justice from the first part of the project now we go one step further. The topic of this exchange is sustainable agriculture. We want to inform ourselves about how to cut the supply chain of conventionally produced food and how to grow our own fruits and vegetables.

During the first half of the youth exchange we had many activities related to the main reason why we are here. To become more familiar with the topic and the current situation in every participating country we started with presentations about what is really happening in our motherlands and we also showed real existing examples for sustainable agriculture. Besides the theoretical part we also had an agro exchange, where every country presented typical, local produced food such as homemade cheese, different jams and of course traditional drinks.

On Friday, the 12th of June, we went altogether for a very interesting and inspiring excursion to a small village in the heart of Pirin called Vlahi. It’s really interesting how in small mountain village with population 10 people there are 4 environmental NGOs.
One of them is Vlahi Nature school – a project started by CVS Bulgaria in 2008. There we saw the permaculture garden and an artificial lake for frogs and other species that contribute to the natural growth of the garden. Besides gardening and permaculture they also organize different initiatives and events – for volunteers and school groups and this year there will be a long term EVS volunteer there for a first time.

We also visited the stables that belong to the NGO Centra Viva. They breed a rare local sheep. Also we saw the bears and the wolves that are under the guardianship of Balkan Wild Life Association, another NGO based in Vlahi. After this interesting walk around the village and the talks with the locals, the half our group decided to hike from Vlahi to Debeli Dab. It was a bit challenging to hike for 4 hours under the hot sun, but we did it.

On 13th we had an amazing guest lecturer – Gabriela Petkova, she is volunteer coordinator for Greenpeace Bulgaria. She talked about Permaculture and Urban gardening. She shared with us her personal experience and explained us the basics and principles of permaculture. And divided into teams we developed our own small projects for permaculture garden. It was really inspiring to see someone who really loves what she does. She said something I will never forget: Your garden is your teacher.

It’s not possible to skip the movie night, we watched “Taste the waste”. A movie that makes you rethink your lifestyle and what you really cause to our planet. It’s not a cheery one, but it’s worth to watch it.

On Monday we had another interesting visit, we had the chance to meet a couple of Petar Dunov’s followers. They presented to us their philosophy of living in harmony with nature. And we practiced paneurhythmy.

Don’t think that we work all the time. Even during the first days, when we were in process of getting to know each other. We had a very interesting Treasure hunt, speed dating and we also visited the thermal baths near the village of Stara Kresna.

Elitsa, Lukas and Lea

Pictures: Dennis Todorov

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