This is Antonia, the German who is spending a year in Bozevce doing weltwaerts. This time I want to tell you something about our last workcamp. We had some people from Kosovo and Macedonia coming here for helping us to create a forest garden.
What is a forest garden?
In one sentence: A forest garden is an ecosystem created by humans that gives the best of nature to plants and animals and gives food to humans as well. Humans can create an area where plants and animals have a good life – and we get something for ourselves from it as well. Isn’t that fancy? Yes, it is! And it fits perfect in our permaculture principles of sharing and living with nature. So we want to have it here as well, of course.
Granit, Blinera and Tanja came here to help us with this project. First, we showed them how to make a compost pile. Compost gives you humus and with humus you give a lot of good stuff to the soil where you put it. So it is a good foundation for planting.
How we worked
For arranging the forest garden, we focused on two different areas: One empty field and one orchard with existing trees, mostly fruit trees and walnut trees. These trees needed to be cut in the lower area, so we removed all the branches until a height of around 1.50 metres. Like this, the tree will put its energy in growing high and not in growing sideways. This was necessary because these trees are supposed to be the highest layer of the garden. A forest garden is, in theory, split in layers: The highest layer is the layer of large trees. Then smaller trees and bushes are following up. In these layers birds and small animals like bats can find a home – and we can pick the fruits. In the empty field we planted new trees to start the forest garden from the very beginning.
The next layer is small bushes. In our orchard, we had already existing raspberries and together with the participants we planted currents and some other stuff. The bottom layer are small plants like flowers, herbs or vegetables. We planted some strawberries and blueberries and the rest will follow next year. Because it would be difficult in November and we had some other stuff to do: We inoculated mushrooms into pieces of wood. This is another layer: Stuff that is growing inside the soil or using dead wood, such as mushrooms or root vegetables.
A lot of information
Our guests were really impressed on the information Inigo could give them about mushrooms and how they grow and expand. We used the daylight to work outside. When it was dark, we went inside and did information talks such as the mushroom talk by Inigo. Another day, Alex was giving information about natural building – talking about rocket stove and our straw bale insulation. It was intense! Some days full of information and work.
One morning we took the participants for a walk around our property to show them what a huge variety of plants we have in front of our doorstep. They were amazed about the amount of plants there even in November and also shared some knowledge about plants that we did not know. We picked some of the plants to put them in our forest.
We also mulched around the new trees, we installed a water system and we started a natural fence. Mulching means that you put some biodegradable stuff on the floor which saves plants from wind, rain, snow or other influences. Useful materials are bark, cardboard, leaves or similar things which can cover a certain area.
We did so much stuff that I can not go in detail about everything here now. But the most important thing for us was that we could make the participants have a good and calm time here in Bozevce. They gave us an overwhelming feedback. It was a good final activity of a year full of workcamps and other activities here. Now we have a bit of time for evaluating. And for planning, of course! See you all again in 2019 with new energy, activities and workcamps!