Encouraged by high yields and high levels of biodiversity that we have been recording in our home gardens we have extended our research to look at how we can provide nutritious affordable food whilst enhancing biodiversity in polyculture market gardens. We are delighted to be offering a unique opportunity to take part in this study. Would you like to join us?
We are undertaking a multi year study of market gardening growing herbs, vegetables and perennialfruit and nut polycultures. The study aims to compare our polyculture plots with conventional organic plots, record levels of biodiversity in the gardens and look at set up and running costs (in terms of finances and time) and outputs in terms of produce and income.
Diversity of high quality biologically produced food from our polyculture gardens
The approach we take to market gardening goes way beyond "organic". We design biological systems that rely on the native ecology to function as opposed to external manufactured inputs, and as a result our gardens service not only our needs but the needs of other organisms too.
You'll be working closely as a team producing food from the market garden for yourself, local markets, and a food co-operative and will be recording all aspects of the process including how long it takes to develop, maintain and manage the associated costs, the fertility requirements, the returns in produce weight and income derived from the sale of the produce.
Our Polyculture Market Garden - photo by Huma
Spring 2017 we will also begin development of a new experimental garden growing perennial polycultures providing fruits, nuts, vegetables, biomass, timber and wildlife habitat. We'll install a gravity fed irrigation system, wildlife/irrigation ponds, living fences of native species, several habitat features for current species on site, and 6 trial beds that will house 4 perennial polycultures, designed to be highly productive and wildlife enhancing.
Perennial Polycuture Trial Garden
Click here for the Garden location (labelled as East Side Trial Garden on our Project map)
We are planning to record all aspects of the project including observed levels of invertebrate diversity, weather data and soil analysis. We’ll be looking closely at inputs i.e set up/running costs, fertility/water requirements and time, and outputs i.e produce, income, soil fertility and invertebrate diversity.
The aim of the trials is to test the ecological and economical viability of growing these polycultures in market gardens and farms in order to meet the following needs/wants:
production of high quality, high value food
cash crops from secondary/ tertiary polyculture partner species
improvement of soil fertility
provision of biomass for use as mulch timber supply for use as vegetable supports and larger round wood material for farm infrastructure
enhanced levels of biodiversity
Some of the resident wildlife from our permaculture market garden.
?This is an excellent opportunity if you are considering starting a garden and/or are interested in ways to provide affordable healthy food whilst increasing biodiversity.
As a participant of this study -
You will gain valuable insight into what it takes to actually run a market garden. As well as the practical skills you will develop, we'll dedicate time each week to covering essential theory including site design and implementation, plant propagation, polyculture management, basic botany, record keeping, harvesting, irrigation, marketing and advertising, and budgeting/financial planning.
Enrollment to the 6 month program entitles you to participate in courses and training events that take place during the program.
You will be contributing to an area of research where little information exists i.e the productivity of polycultures and associated biodiversity dynamics.
This study will be published online and freely available to all for future reference and you will be credited accordingly.
You will be spending time in a truly unique area of the world, working as part of a dynamic team of fellow enthusiasts in an inspiring environment.
2015 team in the gardens
Where will you be?
?The project is based in the town of Shipka, Bulgaria on the foothills of the Central Balkan mountain range in the Rose Valley. It's an area of high biodiversity, beautiful countryside and historical sites of global, cultural and scientific significance. The project site is located on an abandoned piece of agricultural land on the western outskirts of the town that we call the Paulownia Garden. See Map for Paulownia Garden Location.
Shipka Town - home to Balkan Ecology Project
You'll also be learning from our existing garden, a 10 year old residential property with a highly productive and well established forest garden composed of over 400 species of plants. Our central garden is a good example of small scale intensive ecological design and includes examples of rainwater harvesting, grey water reed beds, wildlife ponds, multiple composting facilities and hosts a small plant nursery. We practice various methods of biological vegetable production including guild planting and crop rotation, and rear pigs, chickens and rabbits from this property.