Update: The Month of June

The month July was mostly about tidying after the Shipka fest, gardening and using fruits from the garden, which we had quite a lot.


In our garden we did a big job. First we borrowed optical levelling instrument and we measured with it contour lines on the upper part of our garden – always trying find a point, which is on the same level, like the others on the line. After pegging the lines, we had dag the water channels on this lines to be even and without stream. Important step was to clean the incoming channel before our garden, which was full of plants, wood and sometimes some building rubbish or grass, which people throw there from the street. On the end we went up to the mountains near the monastery to open the water gate from the river. We had to clean the channel properly, because in some points it became stuck and water was flowing on the street and we made little flooding. The water came quickly to the garden and filled some of the channels. To the others, we had to redirect the flow with stones. After testing the channels we started put mulch onto the new beds and afterwards we planted there tomatoes, beans, basil or kale.

We also started to make bigger ordering of our sheds for tools to be able better to store and find, what we need. Another big garden project was creating a new outside siting place. We cut all plants in one spot in a shadow under a trees and made a flat level for a table. Next to this area was important to find a septik tank, which is somewhere under ground, but nobody knows exactly where. Martin started with digging a probe holes, but not successfully. They remained there serving like a cat’s toilet (every kitten had own) 🙂 and waiting for better tools and times.


Forrest garden course

Martin, influenced by the people around, found interest in the Permaculture and wanted learn deeply something about it until finishing the project. So he, together with Michael, attended the Forrest Garden Course organized by Balkep. It started on Thursday evening with a dinner and finished on Sunday evening. But most of the participants stayed in Shipka more and next week there was extensional programme. The course took place (except practical outside sessions) in the nice hotel Perenika in a common hall and every day we had there very nice lunch and dinner. There came interesting group of participants for example from England, Germany, Sweden, Malaysia or Italy and also all of our friends volunteering in Balkep.

Some sessions of the course were theoretic in the hotel, some were outside on the West of Shipka on a new place for garden called “Ekpyrōsis”. We started to create there new forest garden – making soil test, measuring and digging channels, preparing beds and mulching with straw balls. We didn’t plant there trees or plants (just one for example), because the hot summer weather is not good for it. During the theoretical sessions we learned about climate of the region, topography and design software, calculation of rain water, fertility and nutrition.

After the main part of the course we had more practical sessions about hot compost building, botany or earthworks, when we created (like a little children) a clay model of landscape and sprayed it with water to see, how it behaves and where is the best place to build pond or channels. Some of the participants also introduced their own gardens and plans other people discussed them.

More about this course and garden you can reade on the blog of Balkep here.

Not connected with the course, we also joined a session with Paul about propagation of plants by hard wood cutting (the brown part of plants), soft wood cutting (green part) or root cutting.



We organized three events in Shipka. One was in the museum, where we started summer course of traditional Bulgarian embroidery with Ivanka Genova, which continued almost every week. We also joined it and the group of volunteers from Kazanlak came here. In the same time we also opened a little exhibition of Bulgarian embroidery in the museum.

Another interesting event took place in Chitalishte in the gallery. We welcomed group of Besarabian Bulgarians – people from Bulgarian villages in Moldova. They went for a trip, like their grandparents 190 years ago, by walk from Bulgaria to Moldova and stopped in Shipka for one afternoon.

On the end of June we organised first movie night in Chitalishte. Ophelie prepared a French movie ‚A Quest for Meaning‘ about two friends, who changed their lives to a better way.

Common life

Finally we started with going for a course of Bulgarian language – with one nice teacher from Jasenovo, where we have to go by car. She is doing walks with us around the village, to a forest, shop,… and she show us everything around and say the name in Bulgarian. For Czech people is it easy, because most of the words are the same or similar, but some of them are different and it’s important to learn it.

We also visited few times a Language café organized mostly by short-term volunteers from Kazanlak, who were there for preparing the EKO Fest. It took place in the library in Kazanlak and we saw for example presentations about Finland, France, Poland and also Czech Republic. They prepared also some typical food or drinks from this countries and started an exhibition of posters “CzechImage – Czech Republic in my eyes” (which was borrowed from the Czech centre in Sofia). It was good opportunity to meet finally other volunteers, which we didn’t know jet.

At home, we had lot of cherries and we tried to use them. We made cherry jam, cakes or typical Czech dumplings. We also cooked sirup from elderflowers (thanks to recipe from Paulina and little help from Lena, who visited us 😉 ), because in Bulgarian shops is almost not possible to buy some.

We also bought “new” bike in the place for selling old metal. It cost us 20 Lb. (+20 for changing tires) and it is very nice old bike in black colour, which is maybe designed more for flat land in Kazanlak and not to hilly Shipka, but it help us to be faster if we need go to the shop, work or visit volunteers on the other side of Shipka.

Author: Martin Votava (written on the Botev peak – 2376 m. )
Photos: Martin Votava, Eileen Wylicil

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