(Updated February 2020)
Five years ago we settled in a beautiful village in the Rose Valley at the foot of the Sredna Gora range in Central Bulgaria (50 km from Plovdiv), where we are realising our small organic herb farm. When we bought the deserted house, it was completely overgrown and needed a total renovation. Now we have completed the majority of repair works and are turning our attention to preparing our lands (currently 0.5 hectare) in order to make it plant ready, and we installed a herb drying shed so we can start producing herbal products.
We are Laura, an anthropologist and ethnobotanist, Andreas, a journalist and translator, and our baby daughter (January 2020). Originally we are from the Netherlands and Germany but have made Bulgaria our new home.
We care about environmental and social justice and try to implement a more sustainable life-style, although we strive to move away from dogma and towards a better understanding of life in al its diversity and complexity. While we have our hands pretty full with work in and around the house, in our free time we like to explore the lesser known parts of Bulgaria and the surrounding countries.
Our house and soon to be farm (we really are right at the start, so don't expect big fields of herbs just yet) is situated at the edge of the village and surrounded by hills and mountains. We are the last village for 40 km (in one direction), so there is plenty of free space to dwell around and you are encouraged to explore the beautiful area.
We grow many of our vegetables and fruits in our garden and love cooking, baking bread, making preserves, herbal syrups, herbal teas and spice mixtures. Our place probably best suits people who have an active interest in ethnobotany or herbs, starting their own small holding, or those who have an interest in Bulgaria/living in an isolated village. We work together during the day and spend time over dinner, and there is plenty of time for exchange.
Couples or two friends are very welcome! Solo travellers also of course. Just note that we live in an isolated village, and it would suit a person who is self-motivated to explore or just relax in their free time. Sometimes we need to tend to jobs and cannot always be available :-)
On our village square you can find a small shop selling essentials and drinks, there is also a little bar, a postoffice and a bus stop. For anything more substantial the nearest larger village is Brezovo, about 15 km away.
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
We will be happy to share our knowledge about self-sufficiency, plants and wildlife in our biodiverse region and Bulgaria in general. Volunteers can experience how it is living in a remote village and at the same time explore Plovdiv with its interesting cultural heritage (European Capital of Culture 2019).
Our busiest times of year are from end of March/April to early July. During that time we really appreciate help with preparing for the growing season and to stay on top of weeds, as well as general gardening and maintenance work. This can involve building plant beds, dry stone-walling, but also painting/sanding and so on. If you like rough work, then late March- early April or even November (if the weather allows) is ideal because during that time we can clear away vegetation, which involves a lot of cutting and burning..
The main period of herb (wild) harvesting is from mid-May to July. During that time we will gather herbs from the surrounding fields and forests and fill-up the dryer. Once the herbs are dry they will be garbled and stored away until the tea mixtures are prepared at the end of the harvest season.
In August the work dies down a bit because it often gets too hot and it's mainly irrigation and making preserves then. It is rare that we take people in August but drop us an email if you like, especially if you have IT skills (website and design), or there may be an opportunity for a house-sit.
From September to early November the work mainly involves processing harvest, clearing land and preparing for the next growing season, as well as some other maintenance work.
We normally work together if the task allows it.
Write to us if you like to know about what we currently need help with.
We mainly need help with:
- Maintaining the garden (digging, planting, weeding, compost turning, irrigation etc.), and there is quite a bit of soil/stones that need to be moved/used to make beds.
- Building a fence around our land where we will plant the herbs.
- Our herb farm will starts producing teas and herb mixtures from this year, so depending on season, we would also appreciate some help with harvesting and preparing the plant material.
- In the summer/autumn we will also be processing fruits and vegetables in all sorts of conserves for the winter.
- In the (late) summer we will prepare the firewood for the next winter.
- Any other small building/preparation work that can arise such as sanding and painting.
This host offers a language exchange
This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
Please contact them directly for more information.
During the last year we have built a small cordwood cabin. This is a type of ecological building using pieces of wood, coloured bottles and mortar. Volunteers can stay in the cabin, which is situated in our garden and equipped with a double bed, electricity, internet and a simple kitchen area. If there are two friends coming, we can also add an extra bed. The bathroom is in the main house but is easily accessible from the garden.
You can also camp in our garden if you like, and we provide a tent, mattress, blankets, pillows, everything you need.
If you are coming in your own van, we live on a slope but we have one spot outside the garden that is flat and suitable for parking. There is a water connection there too should you need it.
After working together outside, we ourselves have several jobs to do in our home office (not always but frequently), which we do in the afternoon, and we need some quiet time then. We also have a baby daughter and in the evenings we have some family time in the main house. This means that you are still welcome to use the bathroom of course, but that we will retreat with our daughter and have some time to ourselves.
Food is provided three times a day. We usually take our main meals at breakfast and dinner. Lunch is something light like a salad or a sandwich and mostly DIY (do it yourself) using the produce available or leftovers from dinner. On your days off we won't be eating together but you can use our produce and anything in the fridge, and cook your own meals in the cordwood cabin.
It would be nice to sometimes cook together in the evening, but this is not a must. We can accommodate diets such as vegan or vegetarian, or if there are certain things you don't eat/are allergic to. Just please let us know in advance. A 'proper' supermarket is an hour away and it is difficult discovering the do's and don'ts of someones diet while cooking etc.. You understand :-)
Please note if you are vegan, we can provide plant based milks and cream, but we minimise the use of any substitute products. Of course, you can bring your own if you wish.
We do expect help with washing up/ laying the table etc. and appreciate the effort to keep communal areas a little tidy :-) it makes it easy to live together :-)
We are an hour’s drive away from Plovdiv and there are three busses a day going to and from the city. There is plenty of space to go for nice hikes, for example, to the Bratan Peak (1230 m). In addition, a Thracian sanctuary is nearby and one of the very few remaining “revival style” villages. You can also relax in the swimming pool in Pavel Banya, which is about 40 minutes drive away. The peaks of the Balkan Range are also within reach for day-trips. We have bikes available.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
This host has indicated that they love having digital nomads stay.
This host can provide space for campervans.
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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