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help exchange   Host 6024
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Help Exchange

All Year:
Area (ha): .85
Persons: 2
Category: Homestay
Host ID: 6024
Country: Bulgaria

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Last Updated: October 17, 2012

Our property is located in the Western Rhodopi Mountains in the village of Krushevo near the town of Gotse Delchev. This village is a very small community of about 300 people which offers a unique view into an increasingly rare style of Bulgarian living. Life in this small Muslim village is a slow pace and has a traditional feel that has long since been lost in western Europe. The residents of Krushevo are very eager to engage with visitors and if active efforts are made to communicate and participate in community life, they will receive you as family. Last year we had 40 volunteers, 39 of which were happy with their stay here.

Just outside the village is our land where we are building using a mix of alternative and traditional building techniques and we are becoming well known inside Bulgaria as a source of information and a demonstration site for natural building methods. We hope we can continue with our volunteers' help to make this grow into a center of learning and excellence in this field. We have completed and live in our small strawbale round house, and are now working on a second building with cordwood and light clay walls. We have just finished a grass roof. We also grow food here but only in on a small scale. We are not a farm.

Our guests, whom we like to treat as family have the opportunity to learn firsthand from our 35 years of alternative living experience. The second building will become an accommodation & study block using a combination of traditional and progressive building techniques. We hope to further develop our vegetable gardens as well as numerous other projects around our land, moving ourselves to the village standard of being largely self supporting. There are many activities that vary throughout the seasons such as apple harvesting, cider making, tree planting, greenhouse upkeep, building work and the making of jams jellies and preserves.

We are constantly reminded by the gorgeous, dynamic surroundings of the Rhodopi Mountains just how lucky we are to live here. Our land overlooks a stunning view of the Mesta Valley and the mountains of northern Greece. The area boasts historical sights from the Thracian and Roman eras as well as a wealth of unspoilt forestlands to explore.

We have just about completed our new volunteer accommodation, a cosy insulated caravan attached to a wooden building with a living room (with internet, woodstove, and veranda. Still working on the solar shower and terrace sitting area. We still have two other bedrooms in a village house.

We eat a blend of traditional English and Bulgarian food - a good varied diet that is not vegetarian, but alternatives can be arranged as long as we know in advance please. Meals are taken together in our home. Food is a passion we like to share with people. We have good access to internet and a computer is available for visitors to use.

We run a second hand bookshop here so there is no lack of reading material for visitors. We are an English couple in our fifties, who speak reasonable Bulgarian, and do not live in an expat circle but have many Bulgarian friends and interests. We try to support our visitors in learning some of the language if they wish.

If you are interested in us, we can email our volunteer information sheet so you know more about life here.

Updated to say we have a need this year for people with experience in the craft production and marketing of anything to do with wool, to explore home based work for the village women, and anyone with experience with crops who can explore new cash crops for the village, which up to now has depended on tobacco growing. We have lots of tasks for everyone else as well!

Photos below are 1) Us, 2) view across our land and 3) the strawbale circular house.

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