Update: The month of April

The month of April began and the circumstances because of you-know-who didn’t really change. But this didn’t stop us from achieving great things. So what do you do if you are not allowed to go anywhere? You go in nature.

Cleaning of the Ecotrail

And this is exactly what we did on the first Friday of the month because the Ecotrail “In the footsteps of Felix Vogeli” needed some attention. We moved branches to the right and to the left and even the bigger trees didn’t stop us. There are not a lot of things existing that you have to fear when you own a machete!

The Ecotrail is now easily accessible again. 


One afternoon our volunteer Pedro told us that there is a Geocache next to Shipka monastery. Most of us asked what is a Geocache and this was the point where we decided to just take a look at it.

A Geocache can be any sort of a container that you hide in some place and mark its location on a website for other’s to find it later. As it is really fun to search for caches we decided to put four Geocaches along the EcoTrail route. Have fun at looking for them next time you walk the EcoTrail!


April is a month of spring even if you don’t feel that always here in Shipka. Nevertheless we started to get way more active in the garden and there are a lot of visible changes now. 


The pond was a mission of itself. There was a lot of talking and planning involved before it finally happened. 

First of all we digged a big hole in our garden and arranged it with different levels for biodiversity reasons. That’s also how the pond earned its nickname “The jacuzzi”. We put the membran and finally filled it with water and now we wait for nature to do its thing.

Plant recognition workshop

To upgrade our salads and other dishes we decided to do a little plan recognition workshop led by our coordinator Tania. Most of the time we are not conscious about the huge amount of plants that even a small piece of garden can offer to us. And even if we see them we don’t know what they are good for. We ate some very delicious pesto as the result of our workshop. From now on we try to include at least one plant from the garden in every meal.

Hot compost

Most composts need over one year to produce the nutritive soil we want. But there is a technique to shorten the process: the hot compost. 

We set up some fresh grass as well as horse and cow dung, straw, sawdust etc. and wait for the temperature to rise in the core of the compost. When it falls again you have to turn the compost and repeat that process until the temperature stops to rise after the last turn. And here you have your nutritive soil in less than two months! We are still waiting for our compost to be completely ready.


In March we already planted some potatoes at the field outside of Shipka. Now came the time to do the rest. Our friend Stefan prepared the rows with his horse and we planted the corn, broom and other seeds by hand. It was a lot of work but this way is less invasive to nature than the common process with tractors. We can’t wait to the results in some months!

Insect hotel

The Open Mind foundation is now holder of the most luxurious hotel in Shipka. On more than six floors you can find a huge variety of rooms, common space, swimming pools, decks and balconies and the most stunning thing: The stay is free (as long as you are an insect)!


The graftings we did in the workshop at the beginning of March now show  some first successes. Of course a lot of the graftings also failed but that was to be expect as we are bloody beginners.

Of course besides these major things there were a lot of small changes around the headquarter of the Open Mind Foundation: We planted, put some trees on the street side, decorate the garden with signs and mandalas on the wall or established a worm farm (full article here). 

The first plants that we planted this year started to grow and green is again the dominant colour around us.


Chitalishte Garden

Even if attention is low around the Community Center in the current times, we thought it would be time to give it a new glow. So one morning in April the whole Shipka crew made their way to the Chitalishte and turned the leave-compost-place right next to the building into a lovely garden. The place where the Chitalishte was founded will finally have a appropriate look.

Visit of afforestation museum

What most people don’t know is that Shipka is the place where the first big afforestation in Bulgaria started. As  we already know well the main result of this action forest itself it was time to also take a look at the museum. It was very interesting to see how much the area around Shipka has changed over the last century and with which kind of tools people used back in the days to plant thousand of trees.

At the blacksmither

We had the wonderful pleasure to see our friend Stefan doing his craft of blacksmithing in real life. It was very interesting to see him working in a discipline that is more than hundreds of years old and admire the result of his work.


April was also the month of a lot of celebrations.

Lazarus Day

It started with the Lazarus Day one week before the orthodox Easter celebration. Some of the children and one of our volunteers Lea dressed up with the traditional clothing and visit some friends in Shipka to sing and ask for eggs.

Egg painting

In order to the Easter celebration we decided to paint some eggs with natural coloration. A friend of our coordinator showed us some technique to achieve wonderful patterns by putting plants on the shell of the eggs before boiling them in the colour. 

Easter hunt

In respect to typical french and german Easter traditions we made a little chocolate rabbit hunt and after one hour of searching we managed to discover all 8 rabbits.

Michael’s birthday

One of our beloved volunteers, Michael, turned one year older this month. This was the perfect occasion to start the first fire of 2020 in our garden and enjoy an international meal with over nine courses from all over Europe. We are still full of this banquet.

Camping at white river

The occasion of another birthday in the end of the month was very convenient to make a little camping trip to the Бяла река (white river) near Karlovo. We spent one night there and enjoyed the beautiful nature in the National Central Balkan Park. We did some hiking along the EcoTrail and up to a chapel on one side of the valley.


Of course we are still trying to embrace a as much as possible zero waste lifestyle. To avoid the huge amount of packaging that every product comes with in modern times we created our own basketball hoop and a chess play. We finished our trash measurements this month (full article here) and are now working on a collection of all recipes, so stay tuned!

And sometimes in the month of April we just had fun!

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