The 3PEAS manual is ready!

Roots of Permaculture is available for youth work practicionaires that are interested to learn how to use permaculture in social settings. The maunal is translated to Albanian and French languages and complemented with the set of educational cards.

Educational cards with permaculture principels and ethics.

3PEAs manual in Albanian language is availble for free download and use!

Training on coordinating groups in natural building

I just started my volunteering in Bozevce with GAIA, since maybe one month, when I participated to the training for coordinators in natural building. I didn’t know what to expect to it, except to meet new people and to learn technics of natural building. Actually, I only had a dim idea of what non formal education was, and I thought that it could be relevant to have more knowledges about natural building before to plan to teach it.

Still today, I don’t think to be able to explain, with words, what is non formal education, but I can tell what this collective experience, which was very different of all the learning ways I had known when I was student, looked like.

3PEAS experience

Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to take part in a PDC (Permaculture Design Course) at Gaia Kosovo. Permaculture is an ethical system for living in harmony and balance with the earth and with each other. The ethics of permaculture are Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. There is also a set of principles that demonstrate how to carry out these ethics. For example, using biological resources instead of man-made ones both cares for the earth and helps us to share resources fairly, as it leads to less consumption. 

Before I attended the course, I had heard a lot about permaculture and even worked in several gardens that claimed to be based on permaculture principles, but I still didn’t know exactly what permaculture was. The PDC showed me that permaculture is a lot more than a set of gardening guidelines or ideas; instead, it’s a system that we can apply to every area of our lives.

There is a growing awareness about the field of Social Permaculture, which includes valuable principles such as integrating rather than segregating, as establishing healthy relationships strengthens systems. We can also apply the concept of zones to social permaculture. Zone 0 represents you, zone 1 is your family (birth or chosen), and so on until we get to zone 5, which represents the world. 

The PDC also contained a lot of practical, hands-on activities. My favorite activity was learning how to measure contour lines using a simple A-frame. Water always flows at a 90-degree angle to contour lines, so knowing where they are on your land can show you where to build swales, which catch and retain water. We also built a hot compost pile and got to try out some different natural building techniques. 

Gaia Kosovo was an ideal place to hold the course. The residents there have a lot of experience with natural building and it was the perfect place to see concepts like thermal mass and passive heating put into practice. The residents and volunteers at Gaia Kosovo also cooked us a bounty of delicious food, and mealtimes were a highlight of everyone’s day.

There are several permaculture concepts that are easily applicable both in the garden and across our lives. One of these concepts is the idea of zones. In permaculture, zones are used to delineate different areas of a property. Zone 0 is the area that is closest to you (i.e. your house), zone 1 is an area that you visit multiple times per day and is a good place for intensive gardening. Zone 2 is an area that you visit maybe once or twice a day and is a good place to keep animals or grow vegetables. Finally, we reach zone 5, which is a wild zone that we never visit. 

Our facilitators on the course were Mihail Kossev and Annelies Buggenhout. Having good teachers can make or break a course, and having Misho and Annelies as our trainers was the main reason that the course was so interesting and meaningful. Not only were they both very knowledgeable, but they used a variety of interactive and alternative teaching techniques that really helped to demonstrate the different concepts. They also helped us to bond as a group and kept us laughing! 

At the end of the course, we worked in small groups to create a permaculture design for different plots of land at Gaia Kosovo. This was an invaluable experience as we got to actively experience the different steps of the process, from the initial observation period and client interview, to mapping out the different zones, sectors and flows and integrating the different elements and concepts that we learned about throughout the course. Of course, we stopped short of actually implementing our designs, although not everyone wanted to! 

I’m very grateful that I got to participate in the course. I think that taking a PDC is a meaningful experience for everyone, regardless of whether or not you have land or feel ready to start gardening. You can apply the principles and concepts of permacultures everywhere; after all, you’re only limited by your imagination. 

Claire Stephens
30 Nov 2021

Pictures taken by Kim-Lien Nguyen, Anca Bilciurescu and Ayşe Özgü Ötünç.

Permaculture as a Path to Peace 2.0 is Erasmus+ supported project coordinated by GAIA Kosovo. It includes several activities, such as PDC Training course and Permaculture Teachers Training. The next PDC will take place in May and the Teachers Training is planned for June 2022. Stay tuned for the news.

Bozevce in Winter

Since I arrived for volunteering in Kosovo in September, everybody is joking about winter coming and how, for us foreigner, it’s going to be hard to survive the cold and how challenge it will be for the daily routine.

You enjoy the last tomato of the garden; you chop the wood for heating and one day you wake up and there is twenty centimetres of snow quietly laying all around the property as far as the eyes can see.

Bozevce’s Guardian

When arriving for the first time in Bozevce, I remember people telling me the only place where I could have mobile data and internet was at the walnut tree. So I looked around and very fast, I could locate the well-known tree that overhangs the property. Whatever the season, the majestic tree is cut into the sky and offers a marvelous picture to walkers in search of network . . . and network there was indeed!

Bird care


This winter, in Bozevce, we took care of our wild birds, by building some feeders and some houses for them.

Why do we feed them?

Most of the littles birds usually eat insects, or in winter, some seeds. The problem in this period is that because of the snow, the seeds and all the food they usually eat is hard to access. And in this period they need to eat a lot to fight against the cold.

How to feed them?

To feed them we used wheat seeds, because that is what we had now, but sunflowers seeds, different kinds of nuts, and animal fat can also be used, and be good for them.

Our feeders offer a surface large enough for the birds to land and to eat on it, and they are covered, to keep the seeds dry. We hung them on different places (roofs, trees and in our orchard), high enough to be hard for the cats to reach them, and in some places where there are not too many people passing by, so we do not scare them.

Why do we make bird houses?

Winter is the time for birds to find a new place for a nest. Indeed, they have to prepare spring, and the love season. With the growing of artificialised spaces in both urban and rural areas, and the disappearance of old trees, birds have less and less appropriate places for nesting.

How to make bird houses?

Bird houses can be a simple box, to offer a good shelter for the birds. But be careful, if you want your house to be used, you have to respect some dimensions. Depending on the species of the birds, their needs differ. For example a tit (Parus spp.), the entrance needs to be a hole of 32mm of diameter, and it’s 90mm for a hoopoe (Upupa epops). Also depending on the needs of the species, the place and the height where you put the house will change.

There are many good advices here:

And it worked!

During the snowy days through our windows, we could see birds around the feeders by dozens! Thanks to that, we manage to identify some of our land mates, like:

Great tit (Parus major), blue tit (Parus caeruleus), marsh tit (Parus palustris), great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major), middle spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), cirl bunting (Emberiza cirlus) and and Eurasian bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula).

We are going to continue to feed them until the end of March, when most of them become insectivorous again, to avoid them being dependent on us. Like this they will be fed until they are able to find food by themselves in nature.

Joseph, March 2021

A Glimpse of Autumn

Today we lose another minute of sun Max said this morning. So, enjoy every moment of day, Maja added. And, indeed, days are shorter, walnuts are falling, the valley is flaring up with red and yellow leaves, the living room smells like burning wood and tangerines: it’s time to write about Autumn!

Autumn was on time. On the 23rd of September precisely, She settled down in Boževce, bringing with her rain and cold weather. It marked for us the beginning of a slow transition to a new dynamic, with less work outside, more fire in the mass heater, and shorter working days. If Autumn is a time of decline, fall, introspection and slowing down, it is also a time of fullness and strength, of fruiting and harvest. In fact, She got her name from the Latin word augere, which means to expand, to increase.

Living close to nature, in the hills of Boževce, put us in the front line to witness this marvelous expansion, and to enjoy it. Amongst the green leaves that are shaping the garden since May (collard greens, chards, kales, nasturtium), were growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans, potatoes, chickpeas, pumpkins… What a nice feeling to collect all of them, to appreciate the yield of our work and care in the garden during the last months! There is, of course, plants that could have grown better, such as potatoes or cucumbers, but I think we learned a lot thanks to these failures and they’ll help us improving and planning better the garden for the years to come. For now, we’ve had enough vegetables (in addition to eating them directly) to store them for winter, to make salsa (a delicious tomato sauce), kimchi from kale and collard greens and tabasco from our spicy peppers, that came to align with the jars and bottles of hunter salad, ajvar, pickled paprika and cucumbers, we made from vegetables we bought.    

Besides the plants we grew, we also have the great chance to be surrounded by wild trees and bushes that produced fruits and berries in abundance this year; thereby, we collected berries full of vitamins to dry for tea, such as rosehips, hawthorn, and blackthorn (with which we made an exquisite juice and a tasty liquor too). In October, we got a bit obsessed with brekinja (Sorbus torminalis), a little ball, smooshy and a bit sour, growing on a tree from the sorbus genus, that turned out to be delicious as a jam. Wild apples and pears gave us work too: after picking them up from the ground, we cut, grated and put them in small barrels to make vinegar. We kept and stored the healthiest ones, along with apples and walnuts from our orchard, to have fresh fruits to eat during winter. Some of them ended up with peaches from our neighbor in a big barrel where we left them to ferment and make rakija. The peach tree had so much fruits that we even managed to make few jars of compote and jam. Finally, we mixed all of these wild fruits growing around in a closed barrel with water to make a healthy fermented drink.        

What we could not grow or find around, we bought from neighbors and local farmers. Thus, we spent some nice evenings taking care of the 300kg of cabbage we got, cleaning them, cutting them into thin slices, mixing them with salt, pepper and bay leaves, before smashing them a bit and to cover them with water. We will let them lacto-ferment for few weeks to obtain sour cabbage, a meal that is not only delicious but also full of vitamins and can be kept all winter.

Autumn, with Her profusion, makes us think about the less prolific and tougher days Winter will bring in His frost coat. Preparing food for winter is then an important task to do during this period, but not the only one. Indeed, we worked a lot on the house and its surroundings too, to respond to the Autumn and Winter promises of a cold and humid weather. We worked on solutions to the muddy problems we are facing each time there is rain or snow falling or melting on the property; we started by making a tire wall around the Red House to prevent landslides. The principle is to pile and stagger tires filled with really well compacted soil, so that it becomes a rammed earth brick encased in rubber. This technique is used to build Earthship, self-sufficient houses made out of both natural and upcycled materials, and it is a way to give a purpose to the numerous broken tires abandoned in the forest. After many weeks of work, hundreds of tires carefully chosen, positioned and filled, a few puzzling designing challenges, two mass handles and one spade broken, we finally put, with a tremendous joy, the last tire. After removing the excess soil remaining, flattening and putting pebbles, we now have a nice, mud-free path and space behind the Red House.    

Then, we worked on drainages around the houses, using broken tiles and gravels, and we made a brick path between the two houses. The entrance is now very welcoming and nice looking, and it should help us keep our shoes and houses cleaner!
Moreover, those colder days to come led us to have big Cut wood – Chop wood – Move wood action days to prepare and store all the wood we will need before warmer days to feed our two rocket mass heaters, the šporet of the kitchen and the two small stoves of the bedrooms. Heating a house with wood is something quite uplifting: it requires physical work to prepare the material, time to light the fire, care and attention to keep it alive and controlled, but you can value differently the warmth you obtain when you know what energy produced it.        
To be even more efficient in keeping a stable and comfortable temperature in the house, we are also currently working on the insulation of the Red House roof, with OSB planks to hold compacted straw. Humans are not the only ones to get cold in winter, so we built a shelter for our four young geese. With the days getting shorter and colder, we will work much more inside, so Alex, Max and Joseph built new shelves for the workshop. The room is now well organized and we will have a lot of space to continue working and building, even during the dark and freezing winter.

This passage to a new season and the end of the year coming brought some changes in our garden too. Indeed, after removing all the old plants that were not giving fruits anymore, we aerated the garden beds with a broadfork, added humus where it was needed and mulched everything with straw to keep the soil humid and prevent it from freezing. We could then plant, both outside in the garden and in the greenhouses, salads, rockets, chards, parsley, onions, leeks, garlics, holy beetroots, to have them ready in winter and in early spring.    
This year was really encouraging for us: during summer, we were able to cook mostly with our own vegetables, without having to buy them abroad. Some of our meals were even completely Made in Boževce, with vegetables from our garden, eggs from our chicken, cheese and milk from the neighbors’ cow, wild plants and mushrooms from the forest around… What a beautiful joy it is, when the food you eat is related to so many good moments: planting seeds, with love and a bit of apprehension, watching, day after day, the little cotyledons growing and getting stronger; waking up at 6am to go in the forest with a basket and a knife to hunt mushrooms and finding hundreds of them; going to the neighbors to buy cheese and milk and drink a coffee and a rakija with them; spending a full day, all around the table, speaking and joking and listening to music, to clean, cut, peel, bake, dry, pickle, smash (…), mushrooms, paprikas, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbages, mušmula (Mespilus Germanica), plums, peaches…      

Therefore, to reach more food autonomy, and bring more life and happiness in our plates/stomachs, we expanded the garden by building new beds in the Forest Garden:           
      step 1 – define and design where to put the new beds    
      step 2 – aerate the soil  
      step 3 – put wet cardboard on it (to prevent grass to grow)           
      step 4 – add cow manure (for yummy nitrogen elements)              
   step 5 – mulch with straw (for plant-building carbon elements and to protect the soil from drying, freezing, or being invaded by grass)             

We will be able to plant and grow things there in spring, largely from our own seeds, that we kept, organized and stored preciously. And to be sure that our seedlings will have all the nutrients they need, we started a new hot compost pile, that should be turned by billions of astonishing micro-organisms into magnificent humus within a month.           
Otherwise, the fruiting season being over and the soil being not frozen yet, it was a good moment to replant on the South edge of the Forest Garden wild little trees and bushes growing around to make a windbreaker and thus protect the garden beds. Some of them were also replanted in the chicken area, for our beloved birds to have more shelters against wind, rain or sun.             

Last but not least, Autumn, with her ephemeral and misty gown, woven with the shimmering colors of falling leaves and burning skies, of scarlet berries and appetizing fruits, gave us quite some matter to contemplate Nature’s wonders and to appreciate our luck to be able to witness such beauty and to live such moments. The gladness of these moments got even increased when shared: we hosted some GAIAns for a weekend, gathered around a kazan (to bake rakija and potatoes in amber) and around our drugi Tito, who left Boževce after one year of volunteering. We said goodbye to our friend Tito, but we also welcomed a new volunteer, Joseph, whose serenity and building skills are really appreciated, and we had the great joy to see Max, not-so-new in Boževce, coming back amongst us for a new volunteering. Thanks to our workshop on plastering with natural material (mud, straw and sand), we met and worked with fascinating and passionate women, such as Ružica, who is an expert in natural building and a great teacher! 

To put it in a nutshell, Autumn gave us a lot to do and experience, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Full of these enrichments, we are ready to welcome Winter!

Louise, Bozevce, December 2020

Women led workshop on earth plastering

A new action week took place from 19th to 26th of October, when GAIA’s Bozevce program hosted a workshop on plastering with natural materials. The workshop was designed to introduce young women with little or no prior experience to work with earth and natural materials.

The idea was to show that natural materials are easy to work with, but also to promote their benefits. Conventional building in general has a very high carbon footprint, and using natural and locally available materials contributes to keeping the carbon rather than releasing it to the atmosphere. Responsibly acquired natural materials are not damaging for the environment, and are available to all. Working with construction material such as earth and straw can be very meditative and is always fun, especially when many hands are involved in the process. By taking care of our choices, such as building materials (as the conventional ones are often polluting), we also take care of our planet, and thus of ourselves and our communities.

A different aspect of the workshop was the fact that it was intended for women. It is unusual, especially in the Balkans, to see women involved in building activities, so we wanted to use the opportunity to challenge some common stereotypes of such as building being reserved only for men. Gender roles are very present in our society, so it is always good to give different examples that could contribute to positive changes in our communities. An example of young people from different backgrounds (e.g. Albanian, Serbian, Croatian and international, different age, coming from rural and urban areas, different religions) working together, women involved in building, sharing the work but also caring for each other, these are all the little examples that are able to inspire others to make positive changes.

To contribute to the developing of environmentally and socially healthier society, it is necessary not just lower our carbon footprint, but also to treat each other with respect and equity. We are all different, and we don’t come from the same starting point. Women are often not encouraged to take part in building activities, mostly due to tradition, but with artistic natural building aesthetics and the clear environmental, economic and social benefits, women are taking almost 50% in the natural building world. It is a new chapter for a fair future, where people of all gender, younger and older generations, everybody, can work side by side.

Ruzica, an IT expert from Belgrade, who has already been involved in different projects on natural building with Earth&Crafts in Mosorin (Serbia), was teaching and showing the practice of plastering to us. She has several years of experience in building with earth, and earth plastering became her passion. So, this week around 10 young women came to Bozevce and learned how to prepare, test and plaster with clay, sand and straw mix. Most of us were plastering for the first time, and the results are great.

Our task was to put a finishing, outside layer of earth plaster on a house which is used as organizations work and educational space, where we have a workshop, space for seminars and gatherings. The goal is to make Bozevce program an eco-village and educational centre, where people from Kosovo, region and broader could come to learn about permaculture, and also experience it in practice, by living together and with nature.

As we started to work, our plaster mix consisted of 1 bucket of soil, 2,5 buckets of sand and 1,5 buckets of cut straw (1:2,5:1,5). The recipe changes very much depending on the soil type you have. That’s why before starting we made few soil tests, to see approximately how much clay our soil has (e.g. making different shapes with it and checking how it cracks). So we got to know the materials we will work with and filtered them, prepared the plastering mix and then we started to plaster. After the first few movements with earth plaster in our hands, we got more relaxed and continued our work even better. We also painted the walls with earth-water mix, which is another technique to make the natural plaster look more even.

In addition to work, we prepared and shared meals, talked and enjoyed our time together, went for walks, watched some short movies on natural building and a longer one about soil, we crocheted and tried to make dorodango (Japanese polished mud balls). It was a dynamic week in Bozevce, and it was nice to host people from all around Kosovo and share muddy work with them.


Bozevce, October 2020


This workshop was part of my ESC volunteering project Building Resilience. Spending a year in Bozevce and experimenting living with nature and in a community, building with natural materials and producing organic food offers a lot of inspiration and knowledge. It is a chance to challenge ourselves and to grow, but more importantly to experiment in our context, where we are trying a different way of living, that is not harming to nature nor people.

Spring in Bozevce…

Time to spring, time to spring! It is finally here, after a few months of cold weather, some snow and calmness, now the whole nature is setting its pace on maximum. Every day, trees crowns are bigger, meadows are greener, flowers blossom, bushes grow… Our whole surroundings is changing so fast and so beautifully.

Currently we are eight people in Bozevce, where we are living and working with seasons, and respecting the course of natural cycles. There are many things to learn and to try out in practice, and together we experiment.

The crisis that hit us now is only showing up to be an opportunity to learn more and plan better for future. Even though the covid-19 is having a big impact on mobility in Kosovo, our lifestyle in Bozevce stayed similar to what it was before. This actually inspired us to buy more locally, which is something we already practiced, but now we try even harder to support our neighbours. We have decided to put our focus to learn and grow together, rather than getting slowed down by the pandemic. It gave us space to reflect on the current situation, and how it could be an opportunity for the society to change its habits and transit to a more fair way of being, both for people and Nature. As one of the outcomes, volunteers from all GAIA programmes started a project ‘Shifting Perspectives’, where small but important messages relevant to our way of life, are being questioned.

With the crisis appearing we adjusted our plan for the year.

Until now, we have built a chicken nursery, plastered the inside of the red house (which is now more brown than red), and are building a material storage and outside workshop. Later in the year we will start with the building of an additional facility, on the place where there used to be an old hayloft. The plan was to focus primarily on building a facility that would serve as a kitchen and a storage place. But due to the pandemic measures, we are not able to organize all the activities with volunteers and professionals, in order to build it.

This is why our focus this year, in addition to natural building, is food production. We have extended our garden, made new planting beds in the orchard and close to the bees’ area. We built another greenhouse from hazel branches, so now we have two. Since beginning of March, we have started to sow seeds in the garden and in pots for seedlings, but only since the middle of April all of the small plants started to grow rapidly. Every day, it is noticeable that they are growing bigger and stronger, and this is something that makes all of us very happy! So, we have put some more efforts into planting, composting and taking care of soil. The soil we have is mostly clay, but the garden beds that are being worked with some of regenerative practices (no-till, aerating with broad fork and adding compost) are having a much better soil which is ready for planting a variety of vegetables. In the garden we are planting annual plants, while in the orchard we plant perennial plants, those which will stay under the trees for a longer period (a couple of years or more). We also decided to use more space around the property to grow more attractive plants for bees, medicinal plants and herbs for cooking.

As spring is showing us its nurturing side and it is providing a large amount of edible and medicinal herbs, our team has started to make daily plant or creature (sometimes it’s mushroom, a bird or an insect, etc.) presentations. As we learn about them, we are also collecting herbs for teas, fresh and cooked meals and ‘jar’ food, such as pickles and pesto made of wild plants. Experimenting in kitchen is a way to direct the creativity spring brings out in us. Our days have become more full and joyful, working outside, taking care of the animals – dogs, cats, chicken, bees, taking care of plants, preparing and building new things, meeting with neighbours and exchanging ideas, a variety of tasks and moments that are happening every week. A special moment happened with the coming of longer days – one evening as the sun was setting, a beautiful wolf ran across the field in front of our house. It was the good spirit of the Wild showing herself to us. Spring has also brought the birds that are singing and flying all around, many small creatures jumping, crawling and flying, the meadows became colourful with flowers which are essential for our bees and many other insects… It is beautiful to see the Nature starting her life all over again. Let her inspire you and bring out your curiosity for life.

Maja, Bozevce, May 2020

PS. If you wondered what is the feature picture about, here is the link to the cartoon To Spring made in 1936:


Winter in Boževce

When I was a child, I dreamed of a white Christmas

and as I am in Boževce, I realized how much the melted snow could be mud.


Winter in Boževce: How we live…


First, we cut wood in order to warm the two houses – the kitchen, the living room, the 1st floor of the ‘red house’ (still in construction) and the volunteer’s rooms. We bought the wood from neighbours and when the weather is good, we can hear the chainsaw, and the sound of cutting, in all the valley.

Sometimes, there are electricity cuts in our village, so we bring our candles and we continue our tasks. The water pump works with electricity, so if we need it during cuts, we take a bucket with a rope and we go to the well. When you are pulling up the full bucket, you can understand how life in the past was and conclude you are in a good situation, as you might not have a well in the property, or you have to do it all the time. And when electricity comes back, you appreciate it more.

design of our food forest

For the purpose of planning the food forest…

What is a food forest?

A food forest is a living system in which you plant multiple levels of plants that are all edible.

We planted trees (plums, cherries, apples, even apricots!) and now we are preparing for planting bushes (raspberries, hazelnuts, gooseberries…), and later we will plant strawberries and comfrey, to cover the ground, some herbs (sage, lavender, rosemary and others), some beans to produce nitrogen, some vegetables also.

It’s just the beginning, we’re still searching what is best for us!

And of course, in order to be as self-sufficient as possible, we are building a new greenhouse for this summer.


Beginning – filling the holes with cob

As you know, in Boževce, we do natural construction!

Besides adding ‘mass’ on the Rocket Mass Heater,

we plastered the living room.

We took out all the carpets, table, couch, we filled in the holes with cob – a mix of clay, sand and straw, and we put the plaster. Plaster is made with filtered clay, filtered sand, filtered straw (1.2 of clay – 3 of sand -1 of straw). We started by the ceiling, and we continued with the walls. Now we have a beautiful living room, and we’re waiting for it to get completely dry, to fill it back in!

Finished plastered living room


In my point of view, winter is a getting fat season.


There are not so many vegetables in the garden, and those sold on the local market consist of potatoes, onions, cabbage, leek, garlic and if we’re lucky, dried paprika, pickles, ajvar and spinach.

So we buy eggs, cheese and milk from the neighbours and we try to diversify meals with the same ingredients.

Thanks to the supermarket, we can also buy pasta, rice, lentils and oats. Interesting, isn’t it?

Fortunately, we have winter food in jars, full of “hunters” salad, ajvar and others pickles, from last summer.

Besides that, we have sour cabbage!

The sour cabbage, it’s one month fermented cabbage. People from Alsace can say it’s choucroute, or sauekraut, but here we say holy sour cabbage.

We ordered 100kg of this beautiful vegetable. We cut it in fine pieces,

then we put one layer in a big CLEAN barrel

and we put coarse salt on it,

we put a new layer of cabbage,

new layer of salt,

sometimes some bay leaf and pepper,


You also can put full cabbage inside. You have just to make a little hole on the bottom of the cabbage head and fill it with coarse salt. At the end, we add water until the top and we let it ferment at least 1 month.

The sour cabbage is very healthy, rich in vitamin C, the sailor used to take it on the ship to avoid the scurvy (you see this disease who get lost your tooth). It’s also rich in fibre and it’s antioxidant.

What to do with all this sour cabbage ?

Apart from simmering it with dried paprika and red onions, the most famous usage of cabbage is SARMA.

cooking of Sarma

To begin, you have to take a full leaf of sour cabbage (the big one) and you fill it with the stuffing you prepared; traditionally it’s rice and meat, but we did it with rice, lentils and vegetables. You roll this leaf and you put in a big pot. Between each layer, put some cabbage. In the end, cover with water and some tomato sauce and let it bake for 2-3 hours. At the end, you can cover it with some fried garlic and paprika.

We did it for New Year’s Eve, that was delicious.


As I said, sometimes we bought milk and cheese from the neighbours. We visit them in the morning – before they milk the cow/the goat – and we have a coffee (and rakija) together. We speak about weather (imate zima?) and people in Boževce. It’s nice to meet other people than European volunteers. And in winter we don’t hang out so much.

learning Serbian

To speak with local people, we need to learn Serbian. So in winter we have more time to study and to go more often to our classes, in Rajanovce, the village closeby.


To conclude, winter is mainly a season to take rest just as nature does. The sun goes down around 4 PM, so the outdoor activities also finish earlier.

We stay inside, our roots grow, we plan the future sitting on the warm Rocket Mass Heater, we eat good food and drink the good beverages.

A new year is coming,

What we want to do,

what we have to do,

where will we do it,


Winter is a good time to speak and explore the possibilities. We planned the constructions for 2020 (to finish the red house upper floor and down floor, to build a new food production house), planned a garden (to build the new greenhouse, to see which seeds we want to plant), to develop some personal project (Nema Struja Boževce Band).

Nema Struja Bozevce Band
Nema struja B.B.

But now spring is coming and all the houses in the village have a lot to do!

Your new reporter from Boževce,

Agathe Me-v, March 2020