It’s predominantly a vegetable farm, but has some cherry trees too. Georgi selects most of the seeds himself. He grows kale, courgettes, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. He likes to experiment with different combinations of plants, to see how they will grow side by side for example. He also experiments with crops that are not typically grown in Bulgaria. This is the farm’s fourth operational year. Georgi runs it with his father and the help of 5 to 6 seasonal workers.
Ecological farming is the only reasonable way to produce food without damaging the environment or human health. This should be every farmer’s motivation: to produce good, healthy food. Young people should be encouraged to become farmers and be given financial support to do so
Description of the agro-ecological practice
To keep weeds under control in the garden, Georgi uses mulching – he prefers to use dry foliage from the forest, but the cheaper option is to use a polyethylene cover. Georgi has found it difficult to find reliable seasonal workers to help him spread the forest foliage, whereas it takes only two people to handle the polyethylene, and that helps keep the price of his products down.
Technical information on the agro-ecological practice
- The first step is to prepare the land; then the mulch is spread at the same time as the drip irrigation hose; it is very important not to forget to lay the irrigation system because otherwise it’s not possible to water the plants later;
- A very big disadvantage of this type of mulching is that you can’t use rainwater; Georgi waters the plants with water from a well;
- This type of mulching does not stop weed growth completely; it is still necessary to weed by hand; the mulch can last 2 growing seasons; there are different colours depending on what you want to achieve; Georgi uses a mulch that is grey on top and black underneath so that it does not get easily burnt by the sun;
- After laying the irrigation system and spreading the mulch, the farmer makes holes in the mulch and plants the crops;
- At the end of the second growing season, the mulch is removed and taken to a recycling centre;
- It is important not to leave the plastic when it starts breaking up as a result of the sun, because it can get into the soil; some farmers leave it on the ground, claiming that it is biodegradable, but Georgi does not support this practice because he thinks that it can’t do the soil any good.
Economical information on this practice
- Georgi has his own machine for spreading the mulch – it’s made of metal, on which he puts the polyethylene roll; he made it himself in a week using 2 wheels and some pieces of iron, having found instructions on how to make it on the internet; it cost approx. €25; it is also possible to buy a machine like this for €2000-2500. The device is attached to a tractor;
- 1 roll of polyethylene mulch costs approx. €100 and is sufficient for 0.2 ha;
- The cost of returning the polyethylene for recycling is €0,03 per kg.
Georgi recognises that using polyethylene mulching is not the most environmentally-friendly practice. However, he does take care to recycle all the materials, which is a step in the right direction. Ideally, the mulching would be biodegradable, but up to now this has been much more difficult for him as he can’t find enough workers to help him. He aspires to expand his farm and diversify its activities – producing not only raw vegetables but also added value products such as pickled vegetables, sauces, etc. This will allow him to support rural livelihoods in the area by creating new job opportunities.