The edible park biotope

Where: Merboltice, Czech Republic

When: 16th September 2019 - 6th October 2019 - three-weeks activity

Who: European youth of age 18-30 years. Having one of those nationalities: Italian, Slovakian, Spanish, French, Romanian or Czech... only! Creating together 10-members team.

Hosting and coordinating organisation: Spolek Hvozd NGO - culture-educational space in countryside, Merboltice 95

Applications deadline: 7th of September 2019

How to apply

After you will read all these info-pack you fill up short on-line form:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/127jKOEMqPB20j-NLF2N5xNINX_jKNHSZ0xS46mW1u2Q

and send brief motivation letter as well as CV on spolekhvozd@gmail.com . Then we keep you updated and if choosed into pre-selected candidates we invite you for WhatsUp call.

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The main project is „The Edible Park Biotope“ with a subsequent part called „Conservation/rebuild of an Outdoor Kitchen and Pottery Workshop including Rain Water Harvesting“.

There is EPB sketch including explanatory notes in attachments of this application - "plakat Edible Park"


Project aims

1- The Edible Park Biotope (EPB)

Our main aim is to turn our closest piece of farm-land that is, at the moment, unproductive overgrown bush into "The Edible Park Biotope". This limited 900 m² area will be precisely designed using permaculture principles to offer rich fruit and herb crops for humans, as well as a living space for insects and smaller animals that appears as a beautiful and cosy park full of hand-crafted architectural features like benches, swings, bush mazes, secret tunnels, etc. that will also be suitable for children.

One of the other aims is to add various habitats for a wide range of animal species into the park design. This will include a water pool reservoir, corners of wilderness, compost mound, various types of insect "hotels" and birdhouses and also a natural fence. The natural fence would be made by densely woven branches and twigs protecting the park against wild animals, such as deer and wild boars. This natural but well-protected habitat will enable us to plant about 150 edible bushes, such as black and red currant, honeysuckles, gooseberries and many other types of native edible bushes from which all local pollinators will benefit too. All the aspects mentioned above will increase our food self-sufficiency, provide a new space of practical use and increase natural diversity.


2- Conservation/rebuild of Outdoor Kitchen and Pottery Workshop including Rain Water Harvesting

One of the most important structures included in our design is rebuilding the stone ruins of a farm pig-house which is located directly on our yard into a roofed space for an outdoor kitchen and pottery workshop including the use of a pottery wheel. This will increase our ability and capacity to host larger groups of workshop participants or event visitors.

There will be introduced applied sophisticated technologies of water management. The roof of outside kitchen and pottery workshop will be collector of rain water which consequently flows into underground reservoirs under the floor. Great advantage of those containers is their frost-resistance. It enables us to gather water of melting snow in winter which will be automatically pumped over into water pool by solar-panels power when the sun shines. As the water pool is placed in most upper part of EPB, the consequent watering by pipes during season will be powered simply by gravitation itself. This irrigation system is than sustainable and beneficial for landscape.


Everything we realised in our NGO and will apply in this project in cooperation with participants comes from basic principles and concepts of permaculture. Permaculture is a designed system in which natural ecosystems are the model for our human habitats. Natural ecosystems are, almost by definition, sustainable, and if we can understand the way they work we can use that understanding to make our own lives more sustainable and solidaristic. Our long-term aim is to pass this understanding to participants and increase their competency to apply this knowledge and way of living in their lives. Therefore a course of permaculture design will be part of the Activity.



Activities description

First three days of activity will be dedicated to:

introduction Spolek Hvozd NGO, its principles and center itself. Socializing volunteers with all members by team-building games. Going through design of EPB and concrete working plans. Presentation of village by walking through and visiting our closest partners "Hospodářství pod Strážným Vrchem" - ecological farm hosting two ESC volunteers.

After we consider participants set we start common daily framework. The first week´s priority will educating participants by Course of Permaculture principles and Edible Forest design. In the evening will be power-point presentation of bushes and trees cultivars used in EPB as well as insect and animal species which are or will inhabit this area.

In the second week we will build up main and functional structures like water pool, outside kitchen construction and terraces. As creative personal activity and part of non-formal education will participants alternate on pottery wheel one by one. Creating big clay flowerpots to be placed in EPB areas decorate it.

The third week is aimed at finalizing works in EBP and evaluation activities in its end. We will plant bushes extensively as the terrain will be shaped, participants will be instructed how to plant bushes and trees properly according to permaculture principles and familiarized with punctual planting map of EPB. Wood benches crafted by volunteers as well as wooden gates will be placed to the terrain.

Coordinator of project is responsible for successful completion of EBP appearance until the end of Activity. That regards daily evaluations with teamleaders and supervisors as well as early reconsideration of set up plans to achieve Edible Park Biotope design completion and team satisfaction in the end of project.


CONTEXT of volulnteering activities

The project „Edible Park Biotope“ (EPB) directly refers to issues of climate change and young people will get the chance to act immediately on a concrete project. Hands-on learning has been proved as the best way how to acquire and develop understanding, new skills and competencies which participants can apply in their home country.

Consequences of climate change have already struck in our region as unprecedented droughts, together with excessive use of chemicals in conventional agriculture, lead to a drastic insect-quantity decrease and even extinction of dozens of species.

Another side of the same coin is the reduction of natural habitats by the growth of human population and it's densely populated areas where people do not tolerate "wildness and bugs".

We wish to demonstrate the opposite kind of attitude in EPB micro-habitat where solidarity in sharing the space is key and where broad variability brings abundance.

Participants will also experience cultural diversity in an international team. This environment will offer a great opportunity for inclusion when planning and working together with other youths from various European countries is essential. The issues of climate change go beyond the personal and even national individuality, therefore, experience in EPB project based on international cooperation of partners organisations and participants from six different countries is very beneficial with the potential of developing this cooperation in subsequent future projects.

During the stay at Spolek Hvozd, volunteers will be led by experienced members of our NGO covering various topics and then they will be applying their new knowledge and suggestions directly in hands-on activities. Using this style of learning, cooperation and application of knowledge directly will help to deepen our volunteers’ social and communication skills and also, increase awareness of their own and other cultures. The participants will also meet local people, thus experiencing a wide set of approaches and mentalities - experiencing inter-cultural learning.

The participants will experience closeness and community, but also the need for using boundaries and clear communication. It all will require and hopefully strengthen their sense of solidarity. We have prepared daily team-building activities as well as two-days trips out of the place of the Activity to support and enhanced the learning experience. The participants' team activities in the multicultural surrounding will teach effective planning, implementation and evaluation of tasks. Based on our good experience, it is useful to divide the whole group of participants into smaller teams of 3-4 members.

Each team is then focusing on and solving different tasks. The members of each team are mixed every day to boost their inclusion.

All participants will be able to spend meaningful time in an environment with limited opportunities for using modern technologies. This may help them be more mindful, focus on themselves, pay attention to others and the project itself.

In general, we expect the participants to develop and increase their creativity and their ability to improvise.