If you went out for a walk in the Kosovar countryside, what would you see? Now that the cold season is coming, little more than dried grass, burning straw and a few lonely trees here and there. It doesn’t need to be like that, though. Before humans arrived, those empty fields were forests full of life. At this time of the year, mushrooms, acorns and fruits could all be found lying on top of a thick cover of fallen leaves. What if the fields that provide us with our food looked like those forests instead of like a desert? Come with us and see!
GAIA Kosovo, with funding from SCI’s Gaia Microgrants Program, is organizing a short volunteer workcamp with the aim of starting up a a forest garden in the permaculture estate of Boževce/Bozhec, close to Kamenicë/Kamenica. A forest garden is a system of trees and other plants designed to provide humans with fruits, nuts, herbs, wood and other useful yields. The activity will take place from Wednesday the 21st of November to Monday the 26th and is open to everyone regardless of background, skills or experience. Food and accommodation in a house inside the property will all be provided by us free of charge, but bear in mind rooms are shared, everyone is expected to take part in cooking and cleaning duties and the living conditions are those of a village house, including outdoor toilets, water from a well, dog and cats around, … We will cover your bus travel expenses from anywhere in Kosovo to our estate and back as well. You just need to bring a strong desire to learn about nature and to get your hands dirty planting trees.
– Be introduced to permaculture and forest gardening in a very practical way.
– Learn about edible and useful species, including trees, herbs and mushrooms.
– Perform a variety of physical tasks, including planting, carpentry and making compost.
– Have the chance of meeting our neighbours, mostly elders with plenty of traditional knowledge and experience, and of exploring the beautiful natural surroundings
– Live simply and in contact with nature, with little technology.
– Eat a healthy vegetarian diet of chiefly organic, local and seasonal products.
– Arrive on Wednesday the 21st of November and leave no earlier than on the afternoon of Sunday the 25th.
– Be prepared to work outdoors.
– Be willing to do manual work.
– Be over 18.
– Eat vegetarian or vegan for the duration of the workcamp.
– Be willing to share their room and living spaces.
Interested? You have until the 10th of November to apply by filling this online form. If you have any questions, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you up in the mountains!
About forest gardening
Forest gardens are a form of agriculture in which the focus is on growing trees, shrubs and other perennial plants rather than the more common annual vegetable and cereal crops. They are modelled on young forests and share with them some important features which bring them apart from conventional agriculture.
Some of them are:
– A wide array of plant species are cultivated together and biodiversity is encouraged.
– Multiple plants use up available space more efficiently by growing on different levels, including trees, bushes, grasses and climbers.
– Fertility is built up by specific plants which are good at bringing nutrients from the soil up to their leaves and by making use of human and animal waste through composting and fermenting manure.
– The soil is kept covered all year long by ground plants, leaves or other mulches such as straw, and it is never plowed or dug.
– Most pests are naturally controlled by their predators.
Here’s a video in which Martin Crawford, pioneer of forest gardening in temperate climates, explains what forest gardening is and shows some plants from his own garden.
Permaculture is a design system that uses ecological principles which can be applied to organisations, communities and economies to create a more harmonious and sustainable system of relationships. Based on the ethical foundation of care for the earth, care for the people and fair share, permaculture shows us a way, inspired by ecological understanding and principles, to create beneficial relationships and work with nature to regenerate and restore land, communities and our relationship to both. With learning about permaculture and gaining practical and theoretical knowledge about its principles and designing, which are inspired by natural systems, we can learn about social connections and ways of creating sustainable, resilient societies.
Boževce/Bozhec is a tiny village community situated in the Eastern part of Kosovo, in the Municipality of Ranilug. The village used to be inhabited by 600 people, but nowadays that number has been reduced to only 60. It is hidden behind hills, between forest, rocks, streams and meadows. People still living in the village nowadays are mostly elders who still preserve the knowledge of simple and sustainable living in remote peaceful areas. Inhabitants of the village are Serbs, and one can find one Orthodox church in the village and a few others in the area around, some dating back to medieval times.
GAIA is a non-governmental organization dedicated to cultivating peace, social and environmental justice and sustainable living. The main activities of GAIA are international volunteer programs (workcamps, long-term volunteering), non-formal education (trainings, seminars, workshops, youth exchanges) and permanent community building programs.
GAIA is a full member of SCI (Service Civil International), a volunteer organisation dedicated to promoting a culture of peace by organising international voluntary projects for people of all ages and backgrounds. Throughout the years, SCI has made a major contribution to the development of the main forms of volunteering. Year after year, the organisation enables thousands of volunteers to participate in community projects.