Update: The month of October

October was time to say a warmheart goodbye for three of our volunteers – we want to say big thanks to Axel, Eileen and Martin for their help! Also the Summer is over but we still can enjoy a warm Autumn. Plants and trees are making an amazing and colorful setting in the streets and in the forest, with colors from yellow to red. Some people don’t understand the charm of Shipka but once you are here, you feel like in a paradise.


This month we are still having good harvests in our garden – for example apples, pears, kiwis, cornelian cherries, grapes, walnuts, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.
Also we started with an inventory of plants in our garden. The goal is to have one place where we can find photos of the plants, species, uses and other information that can be important.
We spent some time prunning some dead branches of trees in the garden and cutting the uncontrolable Wisteria that is growing around the apple tree in the social area and with the Wisteria branches we can make chairs with the weaving process.
As well, because Pawlonia trees are a very fast source of biomass here, in Shipka, we cut some those trees for wood and mulch.

One of our plans for the garden is to build a Greenhouse from old windows, so we started to collect them from people that didnt want them, and we just started with the first steps of the construction, that will take some time.

Grey water system for washing machine

We finished the grey water system that was designed in a way that the output water of the washing machine will end in the soil near the fig tree, which is a water and organic matter lover, and close to to some of the veggie beds.

For the construction of the system we used 5 cm diameter pipes and we made sure that the inclination was higher than 5 degrees which ensures the correct flow. Under the pipe we put sand which was used to cushion the pipes as the tube will be under the soil. We dug a overdimensioned basin (place where the grey water will end) to not overflow and if it goes well, we can add the grey water from the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Our basin has an ellipse shape, approx 60cm deep, 1m wide and 1,5m long. The basin was then filled with sticks cut into 10-15cm pieces, mixed with sawdust and on top of that we put little layer of soil and the last layer with organic mulch. Then we planted there some Arundo donax and Papyrus that will love the place.

From now we will use only a organic detergent to not contaminate the basin. For example we made already the detergent from Ivy or Chestnuts and this works very well! So we pick up a lot of Chestnuts and stored those.

The instruction for use Chestnuts: take 6 Chestnuts and little destroy them with a hammer. Then put the stuff into a glass full water and left 1 day like this. After you can use the water in the glass as a detergent.

Museum and Chitalishte

On the start of the month we took all carpets from the Museum and Chitalishte and we went to Bara to wash the carpets in a traditional way, like people did in the past.

As well we did a big movie projection in Chitalishte of two Bulgarian movies – Baba and Tam (Grandmother and There, in english) started with some traditional biscuits and tea. The director of both movies and the main character of movie Baba came and presented the movies and gave some time to discussion in the end. It was a success, a lot of people came and everyone liked the movies.

We reorganized the library in Chitalishte and prepared the place for winter time, bringing a heating stove there. After all the work in the rehearsal room we finished painting the walls and ceilling and it will be perfect to be used after repairing the floor.

In the front of the Museum’s Café we leveled the stone‘s floor and we continued to repair some things inside, to be ready to be used.

Community life

Now we are a smaller family but we got new animal’s members. Sarah and Ursula are the names of the dogs we took from the street. Ursula will go to Germany, to Eileen house, after everything needed for the travel is done and Sarah will stay probably in our house.

In order to strengthen our social relations inside the team, in one of the saturdays we took advantage of the good weather to do some team building activities together. We went in a hike to Buzludzha monument from our house by morning and, during the lunch time break in the forest, we did the activities. We came back to Shipka sometime after the sunset and we went for a good dinner at one of the restaurants in Shipka.

In order to now which are our individual dreams and to design the way to reach them, we used the tool Dragon Dreaming. It was a very nice and useful meeting but it is necessary to take some time for this activity and choose the right exercises to reach good results.

On the beginning we played some games and made agreements for this session. Then everyone wrote three things about what we think OPEN MIND is for us. After the discussion about this topic we started to dream about the future (2025) in Shipka with a guided meditation. After we grouped all of our dreams in categories and after that we dreamt about a closer future and everyone wrote 5 dreams we want to reach until the May of 2020 (the end of our project). In the end, together we found the right place for the dreams in the Karabirrdt diagram and we assigned for every task one leader, learner and mentor.

With the objective of having a good and warm winter we bought a rocket stove and we started to design a mass heater bench that will be connected to it.

Others activities

Ophelie prepared the plan for the Zero Waste education for children and now we will start to visit periodicaly primary schools near Shipka. Also we started to organize weekly workshops at home to share our knowledge between us and to prepare for a larger scale (with public). With some volunteers from Kazanlak we started to make shop bags from used cloths for fruits and veggies or for other purposes.

In one day our volunteers and children from the Golden Apple alternative primary school visited Green Balkans (wildlife rehabilitation and breeding centre) in Stara Zagora and we had a presentation about what happens there and see some of the birds that exist there.

Pedro attended to the Forest Garden course organized by Balkan Ecology project.

In other day we did some cleaning and pruning to open the paths in the Eco Trail (trail with informations created by OPEN MIND volunteers in the past).

Our volunteers started to participate in the knitting course in Sheinovo (village near Shipka) and then, because of the interest in this matter, we will start to have knitting lessons in Shipka.

We also went to events like the presentation about Tunisia or the Clothing swap (this event was a good way to refill our wardrobe) in Kazanlak, which were organized by other volunteers in the organization called Youth development center – mutual aid.

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