“Farewell to spring in Pirin” part 2

During the second half of our agricultural adventure, in the beautiful village of Stara Kresna, it was time to get dirty. Compared to the first exchange in Kosovo, where we focused more on intellectual learning, this time we had the possibility to put our new-gained knowledge to use. We grabbed the tools and we went to “play” in the hay. Some of us have never ever seen a fork, except the one on the kitchen table, so we were pretty excited. The happiness of one particular Russian fellow sitting on the hay pile was indescribable. It was really nice to do something helpful for the locals.

It wasn’t only field work that day, we also had many diverse workshops led by the participants during our “open space”. Some of them – such as “sharing economy” movements and vegetarianism, were connected to our topic, while others focused more on cultural exchange and sharing different skills and knowledge.

The next morning continued in a similar manner. This time, there was a garden involved. Our ability to make everything fun is amazing. By noon we planted potatoes, tied tomatoes and got rid off all the weeds, while throwing dirt and “natural fertilizers” at each other, having the time of our life.

Maybe we shouldn`t mention that there was no water that day so we polluted the pool a bit. The rest of the afternoon was connecting food production and climate change, which involved presentations and group workshops.

We watched the sunset through the smoke of burning cow eco excrements, after which the brave ones even milked a cow and/or were just slapped by her tail and run away.

The next couple of days we worked on our final projects divided into smaller groups. The aim was to get some output out of the knowledge we gained throughout our stay here. We had four teams consisting of participants from every nation.

The results of the work are amazing as you can see with the article. One of the groups wrote a project for an eco-camp for young people in Russia and created games for children. The other teams focused on creating something that we can also use in the next parts of the project “Mountains Connecting People” or for other events of the Create Climate for Peace campaign. We prepared an exhibition about industrial agriculture and its impact on climate change, everything will be translated in our own languages and it will be used for further projects and reactions.

Small preview (complete exhibition to download and share soon online):

 

The best part of our final project are the short movie “Bon Appetit” and a song about climate change “Polar bears felt it”. The garbage-group was really inspired, the short movie wasn’t enough for them – dumpster diving guide and an alternative menu will be also available online for you to see. Feel free to share our work!

The last evening was big and somehow sad, farewell to each other and the hosts of Debeli Dab. Everyone of us will keep this place in their heart and hopefully take something helpful back to their home-country.

At the same time we are already looking forward to the next part of “Mountains connecting people”, which will be in Kuterevo in August. Until then we’ll sing our polar bears song and hope you’ll do it too…

Lukas, Lea and Elitsa

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

Kuterevo and Sweedish breads

I have been here in Kuterevo/Croatia in 6 months and I´m from Sweden. And of course I was curious about culture here in Croatia. And specialy baking, baking bread cockies is one of my hobbies. Have baked a lot of bread in Postaja (volunteers station) for volunteers. I am so happy I had the opportunity to learn to bake Croatia bread.  I would like to share my experience with you!

Kuterevo bread / Croatian bread

  • 25gram yeast
  • 1 liter water
  • 1 table spoon oil
  • 1 table spoon sea salt
  • 15 dl flour (about 1 kg)

Boil water in a separately pot. In a another pot heat up 1 liter water to finger temperature. Mix yeast ,salt, oil.

Bring a big bowl. Put the flour in the bowl, in the middle of the flour made a hole. Put water mix in the bowl. And work it from inside with a spoon to outside. Then use your hands and work with the dough is not necessary to use all flour, the dough shall be a bit sticky.
Take a new smaller bowl and put oil in it before you put the dough in it. Then after that you put the whole bowl over the bowl that you had boiled first. Cover the dough bowl with towel. Let it ferment totally in 1 hour. But when you see that the dough starts to rise you take it with your fingers from side to inside like you are wrapping the dough (after 15min ) repeat this thing twice.

Then after totally 1 hour ferment, you can bake the bread it two ways in oven or on fire.

Fire

Take away all fire so it will be a big circle of hot coal. And in the middle of the circle you put a lid (baking lid, round) and heat it up.

When it’s hot, realy hot lid, you take it away and put cabbage leaves in the middle of the circle and then the dough on the cabbage leaves, and then the hot lid on it. Around the lid you put hot coal.

Let it be like this in 45 min. But don’t forget to change the bread on the side (therefore the cabbage leaves) so it will not get burned. Change it 3 times during this 45 min.

Woodstove

You put oil in a big form, oven form and carefully put the dough inside. Dip your hands in water and make a mark with your hands so it will be two loafs. Let it ferment about 30 min over the hot bowl.

Then put the bread in oven in 200 degrees, about 45 min, but don’t forget to switch the form sides in the oven.

Swedish traditional bread/ classic white bread

It could be shaped as loafs or round bolls as you like to.

  • 50 gram yeast
  • 1 liter finger hot water
  • 1 table spoon oil
  • Little salt.
  • About 14 dl flour

Put oven on 225 degrees.

Mix the yeast in the finger hot water together in a bowl. Put in flour. Last you put in salt. Work to a smooth dough about 30 min with hands. Then put a towel over. Let it ferment 30 min.

Then you form the bread. Put baking paper on a oven form. Then you put the bread in the oven form. You can make small slice with a knife over the bread like a pattern (useable because then the bread will not “ crack in oven”).

Before you put in the oven you put some water or oil on top of the bread and maybe some seeds or graham flour.

The water or oil is so the bread will have a nice surface (crunchy)

One advice put water in a safe little oven form besides the bread so it will have a cracked surface from the steam of the water in the oven.

Then you bake it in the oven. If you have shaped loafs it will take about 30-45 min in oven. But if you have formed the bread to smaller round bread it will take quickly and be finish faster about 15 min. The temp of the bread have to be 96-98 degrees, then it’s finished.

Helena D.