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Sunday, 11 August 2013

Visiting Other Projects

While traveling around Europe recently we took the opportunity to visit a couple of other projects for new inspiration and connect with friends.  On our way to Bulgaria we took the scenic route via Hungary and visited my friend Kristina in the village of Nagyszékely (don't ask me how to pronounce it, the Hungarian language remains a closed book for me) some 70km south of Lake Balaton.

I know Kristina from my Permaculture Design Course in Italy and she shares her time between Budapest and this village, where she participates in the activities of a small community.  It is a very rural area in a gently hilly country and 10 families within the village have got together to form a small community bound by their common interest in permaculture.  It's not so much an eco-village, but a naturally grown community.  It now attracts visitors from all over Europe and other parts of Europe willing to experience their way of life.

Kristina works a great garden with a great bio-diversity, using techniques such as companion planting and mulching.  She also has a few beautifully creative elements such as this 'willow tent'.  From the outside it looks like an ordinary shrub...

...but if you creep in through the gap, you are in a wonderfully secluded shelter:

We also visited a few other members of the community.  My favourite one was a tour of a food forest by one of Kristina's neighbours (her name escapes me just now).
Around every corner, something new and productive turned up, a mixture of annuals and perennials, vegetables, fruit, herbs, grains.  Her enthusiasm was infectious and the forest truly inspiring.  I leave you with another few images:

This week we visited another project in Greece in the seaside town of Pefkohori in the Chalkidiki of Northern Greece by my blogger friend Mary.  She has followed my blog for some years, but unfortunately her English garden blog has been inactive for some time.  Nevertheless, we have stayed in contact and exchanged seeds.

The garden she works together with her parents has some big challenges.  For a start they don't have much money to spare.  The soil is very poor and near the sea (500m).  The summers are very dry.  Although they've had the property for 35 years, running water has only been installed 2 years ago and they still don't have electricity and for shelter they have a small self-built house.  So she has been experimenting a lot with drought resistant heirloom vegetables and they collect the little rainwater off their roof in a large storage tank.  Keeping ground-covering plants plants to improve the soil is difficult for them for two reasons: giving shelter to venomous snakes and fire hazard.  A wild fire last year only stopped 500 metres from the property, narrowly averting disaster.

Mary's elderly parents still very much enjoy working the land, the father usually busy with some project or other around the house, the mother watering the plants:

I love the way Mary experiments with different types of seeds.  Here she has sown sesame for seed production, which I never realised what a beautiful plant this is:

This is a really interesting long Chinese bean variety:

Also this year they started keeping rabbits for food production and chickens are planned for next year.  Mary made the cage herself from recycled materials:

After enjoying a few days of Greek hospitality and a few dips in the sea we returned to Bulgaria, more of which soon.  Thank you Kristina and Mary for your hospitality... :)

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