Permaculture workshop participants gather around their newly created "herb spiral." Photo via Permaship
Looking for something outdoorsy and a bit educational to do this month? Happen to be in or near the general Eastern European area? The folks at the "Permaship" are inviting all keen and enthusiastic comers to join them in rural central Bulgaria for a dirt-cheap five-day course in cooking with the sun and building using the earth."The great thing about this course is the focus on very easy and do-able practices. At the end of the course... you will have experienced firsthand how easily some of life's most important needs can be meet," write the organizers of Permaship, a newly founded permaculture learning center in Shipka, Bulgaria. ("Permaship" = permaculture + Shipka, with a nod at participants' "sail toward harmony" between people and nature.)
Growing 'Herb Spirals' and 'Food Forests'
Permaship aims to be a zero-impact, zero-waste facility that allows people to "live close to nature, observe and learn from it" and helps develop sustainable practices for building, growing and preserving food, and other aspects of daily life that can be used in Shipka -- a town that doesn't even have recycling -- and beyond. The folks behind it are taking a variety of eco-friendly measures at their own place, from using greywater and solar lamps in the garden to turning off the fridge in winter and installing composting toilets, while organizing events such as a local river cleanup and an April 2009 permaculture workshop that created an space-maximizing "herb spiral" and a garden/wildlife habitat "food forest."
Conceptual sketch for the "food forest." Image via Permaship.
Future plans include performing lifecyle assessments on all products and materials used on-site, creating a permaculture-based design for water usage that maximizes the number of times water cycles through the Permaship before exiting the property and leaves it at least as clean as it was when it came in, and selling fruit, vegetables, herbal teas, and preserves at the Baba Rosa coffee/tea shop in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital.
Learn About Earth and Sun Energy
The "Earth and Sun Energy: Learn and Create Course" runs Aug. 21 to 25 and costs just 100 leva (around $72) for the whole event, including meals. Since this is the first time Permaship has organized such a course, they say, "we have decided to run it at cost so you aren't paying for our rookie mistakes, however, you can expect excellent food, a friendly atmosphere, good music, and lucid learning from Paulo, our teacher." Participants should bring their own camping gear and clothes suitable for getting close to the soil. Families are welcome and both basic, in-house lodging and child care are available at very reasonable cost.
Permaship HQ in Shipka, Bulgaria. Photo via Permaship.
After arrival on Thursday, Aug. 20, each day will focus on a different environmentally friendly cooking or building technique. For the last two days, participants will move from the Shipka learning center to a newly acquired 15.5-decare site on the banks of the Tundja River in the Sredna Gora mountains.
The first full day, Aug. 21, will focus on building and using solar ovens, while subsequent days will see participants learning to mix up insulation blocks made of hemp and lime, experimenting with rammed earth construction, building clay ovens, and taking a day off to explore local hiking and biking trails. Better catch that 'ship before it sails.
More about permaculture:
Permaculture Principles: Gardening With Nature
Is This Permaculture? Building Hugelkultur Raised Beds
Permaculture in Palestine: Bustan Qaraaqa Greens the Hills Outside Bethlehem
Building a Chicken Greenhouse: In Search of a Permaculture Cliché
Permaculture: Spreading the Green Gospel
Backyard Permaculture in Oregon: Peak Moment TV
The TH Interview: David Holmgren, Co-Creator of Permaculture
The TH Interview: Maddy Harland of Permaculture Magazine, part one
Earthworks St Albans: Permacultural Training for People with Learning Disabilities
Offshoots Permaculture Project
Permaculture Magazine: Solutions for Sustainable Living
Permaculture on Waiheke Island