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Botanica Life Foundation

Author: Dr Apostol Apostolov

Botanica Life Foundation is a new organisation that has started a project aiming to involve young people from Bulgaria in learning about sustainable agriculture. The project will achieve this through setting up a training and production centre for youth participation and sustainable agriculture in the village of Nadarevo, Bulgaria. 

Aims:

The Centre will provide young people with practical training in ecological methods of land cultivation and organic food production. The Centre will organise a Green School and a Green Academy for different age groups of children and young people. We will develop a production field and a garden where young people will participate in the production of organic fruits and vegetables. 

The Centre will be the first of its kind in Bulgaria and will serve as a model for engaging young people in learning about sustainable agricultural practices. 

Sustainable agriculture is an emerging field in Bulgaria and contains an enormous potential for ecological food production, economic development and income generation for rural communities. The project will be involving disadvantaged groups in society, e.g. children and young people from rural and economically deprived areas, children and young people underachieving at school, young people not in education, employment or training, long-term unemployed young people.

Background:

We developed this project because we wanted to change two things: 

  1. We wanted to move our society towards more sustainable ways of land use and land cultivation. 
  2. We also wanted to help disadvantaged children and young people learn skills and find opportunities for personal and professional development through the opportunities the agricultural sector in Bulgaria presents. 

Although Bulgaria has strong agricultural traditions, the connection between people and land was broken during Communism. During the 45 years of Communism in Bulgaria, the land was collectivised and families lost their farms and machinery. Nowadays, when the land is given back to people (through the so-called ‘restitution process’), there are almost no local people left who want to go into farming anymore. The farmers of those times have perished, while their children have abandoned the rural regions in Bulgaria in search for various urban businesses opportunities. Whole villages and rural communities are disappearing. Fertile land is either abandoned and left uncultivated or goes into the hands of a few corporate proprietors who mistreat the original land owners and exploit the land by over-using pesticides and chemical fertilisers to increase profit.

At the same time, young people of contemporary Bulgaria are deeply unattached to land and agriculture as a way of life. Although youth unemployment in Bulgaria is among the highest in Europe (28.3% in March 2014), young people do not see any incentives in seeking professional realisation in the agricultural sector. Many young people prefer to leave Bulgaria altogether and seek employment opportunities in richer European countries.

With our project, we want to change these situations. We want local communities to have access to agricultural land and develop sustainable methods of cultivation, such as learning and applying permaculture. We also want young people to find meaningful employment opportunities through getting involved in sustainable agricultural businesses.

What has happened so far?

  • We have set up a charitable organisation – Botanica Life Foundation - which will be implementing all project activities. 
  • We have gathered a small team of volunteers and friends who support the idea of the project and help us move forward. 
  • We have secured a house with a garden in the village of Nadarevo which will be the base for our training activities. 
  • We have also secured a large plot of agricultural land near the house where we will implement our production activates with young people.

 Apostol, Simona and Tonny members of the core team meeting up in Pirlin

A view of the project site

How the project moves us towards a more sustainable and fairer world?

We believe that sustainable agriculture and permaculture provide real opportunities for community development and regeneration of rural communities. Through learning how to live in harmony with our land and follow natural principles of growing our food, we can preserve natural resources and cause less harm to the Planet.
We can also create fairer economic models for production and consumption. By creating employment opportunities for disadvantaged groups of young people in sustainable agriculture, we help create a more sustainable society as a whole.

What is next for the project?

The next phase pf the project will be to develop the training and production centre with its main activities – the Green School and the Green Academy.

How can you get in touch?

We welcome support of all kinds. If you would like to help or receive more information, please get in touch with the project coordinator Dr Apostol Apostolov by email: aposztolov@yahoo.com or call us on +359 (0)894412349


The publisher is The Centre for Welfare Reform.

Botanica Life Foundation © Botanica Life Foundation 2015.

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