I'm Mariam, founder and community leader of the rural tourism project. Our community locates in western Georgia, Imereti region, 10km away from Kutaisi, in the village Kursebi that belongs to Tkibuli municipality.
Having more than 13 years of experience in inbound tourism, I came across to the idea to engage local women and youth in mushroom tourism; to stop locals migration from the village, create better future for the dwellers, and for those who left to seize an opportunity to come back and engage in rural tourism. For that I've moved from the capital city Tbilisi where I was born and based and from May 2019 started to host guests all over the globe; offering them mushroom tours, local gastronomy/cooking classes, family recipes, mushroom food-art, mushroom art projects, village life & culture, farm-life. We have already hosted people from the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Poland, UK, Sweden, Romania, USA, South Korea.
Due to covid-19 our focus had to change from mushroom tourism into a new direction. My husband who originates from South Africa and spent past 30 years in Europe, came up with the idea of turning our small holding into a bio-dynamic organic free range and self-sustainable farm. He wants to introduce the ideas and methods that he learned both in Europe and Africa in the agritourism industry to revitalize our small community.
To support locals in communication with international guests and advance their skills and performance in hospitality time by time I'm arranging English learning classes and inviting volunteer English speaking people to conduct the classes by mixing learning, art and fun.
My place performs as a hub of the community, a spot for meetings and sorts of activities where in each stage I'm incorporating my neighbors there. I'm using my summer house that is quite old, built in 1970es and even though I did a lot of tasks alone by myself there are still lots of things to be constructed, redesigned and redecorated both indoor and outdoor where I'd highly appreciate good working hands and smart people with bright minds. In return I'll ensure the best care, friendly and family atmosphere, close touch to rural life, healthy products, good food & delicious wine, excursions and exploration of historical and natural sites that are a lot of around us, lots of fun & joy.
We are open for suggestions year round, even now there are many things where good support would be highly appreciated.
On a side note: since lot of the help involve gardening or physical chores it would be a good idea to bring an appropriate clothing and shoes.
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
Help around the house
Help with Computers/ Internet
In return, well a lot of mushrooms, wine and music 🍄🍷🎶😄
Well, our volunteers could be ensured about having the best care, friendly and family athmosphere, close touch to rural life, customs, healthy products, good food, delicious wine, cooking experience on fire in clay pots and plates, cheese making, experience with tea plantations, excursions and exploration of historical and natural sites that are a lot of around us, meeting with intetesting people and discovering really some very ancient places & things of course with lots of fun & joy.
At the moment most of the outdoor tasks involve landscaping and building plus some indoor and outdoor sending and painting.
We are kindly in need of reconstructing and redesigning things indoor and outdoor, to make our yard more beautiful and create more and more green zones and garden places, green houses, outdoor shelters for guests to host from early Spring. So far we do use indoor in cold or rainy days and spaces outdoor that are without shelter that creates troubles when we have request from a larger group like from 15 persons and more. Outdoor we have already had an experience to host group of people like 30 and 40 but we were lucky with weather then.
Painting, handicraft, clay-work, teaching locals how to make mushroom like souvenirs from different types of materials, etc. If there is somebody also capable to help with electricity issues would be great, we have few spots mainly outdoor where we need to arrange a night light system. From Spring we are also considering an idea of building a mushroom-shaped eco-huts (houses) for our guests where they can stay for overnight and spend more time in our village. For the construction we think of to use mud/clay and straw technique. Should there is anybody experienced in that direction would be just brilliant. If not we have a person teaching us and we all can try together.
From early Spring we also need help in land cultivation and planting some agricultural products, as well as during the autumn in harvesting them.
We'd be delighted to host the volunteer in our house. There are a spare bedroom in the house.
There is one indoor shared bathroom and toilet in the house, cold and hot water available always. We have cozy kitchen, and nice living room with fireplace.
We'll be cooking, most of the time but volunteers are expecting to have cooking day per week. We are interesting in all kinds of international cuisine. Volunteers here have access to the fridge all the time, they should feel themselves like at home. It happens very often that the community ladies cook something special at homes and bring to us, sharing with us to taste and tell them our thoughts about the dishes. As a meal plan it will be always full-board.
We are farmers, we do eat meat, also pork. We are happy to provide vegetarian dishes though not vegan.
There is a public bus driving twice a day from/to Kutaisi, passing along our house, there is also a Soviet times quite slow but very authentic train raiding from Kuraisi to Tkibuli and back passing by our village, actually that so-called station locates in just 5 min walk from our house. If walking around 10-12min. from the house to the highway, there are public buses driving in every 15-20 minutes. More info about our community and places of special interest nearby the community or in Tkibuli, Kutaisi and Tskaltubo can be found on our fb page.
In addition to this, working as a tour-operator even nowadays, if there is a need to help in tour arrangement and getting effordable services for the volunteers during the off-time I'll be more than happy to help, not only in western but all around the country, even in neighbour countries like Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week