A large album of pictures commemorating my visit to Strandzha Nature Park in Bulgaria (described below!)
Mid-April 2015 and a week after returning from New Zealand, I found myself at a seminar in the Strandzha (Strandja) mountains in the far SE of Bulgaria, a nature park shared with Turkey. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strandzha and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strandzha_Nature_Park
The project is a joint Norwegian-Bulgarian project to set up a network of seed savers in Bulgaria to preserve Bulgarian genetic resources of old edibles. I took part as leader of the Norwegian Seed Savers and gave presentations on our organisation (Planteklubben for grønnsaker) and my work on perennial vegetables. I had researched indigenous wild edibles over the last couple of years (I was at the European Permaculture Festival in Batak summer 2014) and adapted my Around the World talk to Bulgarian conditions. For example, endemic rhubarb Rheum rhaponticum had in the past been cultivated as a vegetable in monasteries (time for a revival?) and a wild relative of horseradish, Armoracia macrocarpa, grows in th north of the country! There are also 36 (THIRTY SIX) species of Allium found in Bulgaria, many of which I’ve never seen. These include, old favourites like Allium victorialis (found in the mountains).
The seminar, which was held in picturesque Brashlyan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brashlyan), was well attended by local farmers, permaculturists, slow fooders, tourism companies, vegetable researchers, the gene bank in Sadovo and even the Ministry of Agriculture was represented! From the Bulgarian side, the project is being organised by the umbrella NGO People and Nature, in the capable hands of its leader Margarita Kaicheva! After the presentations, half a day was set aside to an ambitious but fantastic program of visits to parts of the Nature park, organised by Ivan Kamburov, who works in the park! This included a visit to their nursery (Katchul Garden) where they grow threatened plants for repatriation and for sale to interested home owners. In an interview with Åsmund Asdal of the Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre (project leader from the Norwegian side) Kamburov said:
“… that the nature park was awarded EU funds to set up a nursery where endangered plants in the park are produced. We produce plants for reintroduction into the park if rare species are in danger of disappearing from some of their habitats, but we also to sell plants to garden owners and other interested parties! If we can offer plants of our rare Rhododendron or our winter green Hypericum species, we hope that people do not go and dig up plants in the protected areas in the park. Bulgaria has because of a favourable climate and skilled farmers proud traditions as a vegetable producing country” , says Kamburov. “At the time that Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire, 30% of all vegetables in the realm were produced in Bulgaria, but today vegetable production much less.” (see more on this Norwegian page: http://www.skogoglandskap.no/nyheter/2015/arealtilskudd_for_dyrking_av_gamle_plantesorter )
Ivan Kamburov together with Maria Tariyska are also heavily involved in the Slow Food movement and the wonderful slow dinner that evening on the Black Sea coast reflected this!
On the Saturday, I was lucky that Ivan and Maria devoted the whole day to showing me around the nature park and I was introduced to several new edibles!
Here is a large album of pictures commemorating this visit:
Thanks so much to Margarita and team and esecially Ivan and Maria!