Paul Alfrey

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Hi I’m Paul,

Originally from the UK I moved over to Bulgaria with my family 12 years ago and set up the Balkan Ecology Project. Prior to that, I worked as a freelance Arborist in the UK for 15 years. Balkan Ecology Project is a family project run by myself, Sophie and our two boys Dylan and Archie, and supported by the amazing volunteers we have hosted here over the years. We aim to develop and promote practices that provide nutritious affordable food while enhancing biodiversity and work to achieve this by:

– Researching, designing and implementing systems on the ground
– Providing working examples of our designs at our sites open for the public to visit
– Providing quality education and training to aspiring growers and landscapers
– Providing consultancy and design for landowners and farmers across Europe
– Practicing an open source policy, whereby we disseminate our results freely and share all aspects of our work
– Growing, selling and promoting the use of plants and plant communities that have high ecological and nutritional value

Our activities currently include: Biological Plant Nursery, Educational Courses, Local Land Stewardship, Polyculture Research, Market Gardening​, and Consultancy and Design.

A unique learning opportunity focused on how we can provide nutritious affordable food while enhancing biodiversity.

We are on a mission to discover methods of landscape management that can provide nutritious affordable food while enhancing biodiversity. We are delighted to be offering a unique opportunity to take part in our study, would you like to join us ? What are we doing ? We are undertaking a multi year study of market gardening growing herbs, vegetables and perennial fruit and nut polycultures. The study aims to […]

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How to Design and Build A Forest Garden – Part 1. Surveying

Last Autumn we tried out a new course format, the “Design ‘n Build”, an intensive practical course where we go through the whole design process and complete the build of a project within 3 days. We had an amazing group join us for our first course and managed to complete the design and build of a 100 m2 forest garden consisting of around 120 plants representing 22 species (not including […]

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Soil Testing, Discovering Local Plants and Woodland Coppice

Robinia Coppice We have a small woodland plot where we have been experimenting with coppicing. The dominant tree species in the woods are Robinia pseudoacacia – Black Locust  a North American native that naturalized in the area after being introduced here many years ago. Last spring we felled some of the trees in order to start the coppice. The aim is to grow the support stakes for our market garden from the coppice. […]

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The Polyculture Market Garden Study – Results from Year 4 – 2018

Here are the results from the fourth year of our Market Garden Polyculture Study. This study looks at the differences between growing annual vegetables and herbs in polycultures vs growing them in  traditional blocks. In this post you will find an overview of the trial garden and the polycultures we are growing, a description of what we record and the 4th year results from the trial. You can find results […]

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Fastest Growing Trees in the Temperate Zone, Seed Harvesting and a Green Toad Gathering – The Polyculture Project

If you follow our project you will probably know that I like to name our gardens after concepts and terminology from the classical period of Ancient Greece or at least you may have noticed that the gardens have weird names . Ezekiel who joined us last week asked why the market garden did not have a such a name which prompted me to fix that, so from now on the […]

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THE END OF THE POLYCULTURE STUDY 2018, AQUATIC PLANT PROPAGATION AND NUT HARVEST.

The Polyculture Study 2018 has now officially come to a close for the year, and we will be publishing the annual report and results by December.  Once again we have been supported by a truly amazing team of people, without whom, the study would simply not be possible. This year we have been able to work on two trials across two gardens, as well as developing a plan for a […]

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Winter Arrives, Planting Garlic, Bird Life and a New Forest Garden – The Polyculture Project

The winter has arrived, two days of sub zero temperatures and some strong wind and there is not a leaf left to vouch for the growing season. It’s just a short cold spell we are having here and it’s expected to be mild until the new year, so we’ll use the last of the good weather to make some final planting in the gardens and then go into hibernation until […]

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The Polyculture Project Crowdfunder

We’re super excited to announce The Polyculture Project, a research project dedicated to developing and promoting practices that provide nutritious affordable food while enhancing biodiversity. With your help we hope to expand and excel our experiments with various regenerative/permaculture practices and publish our records with aim to supply solid empirical data for the community. Please check out our crowdfunding campaign and if you appreciate our work please donate and share the […]

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My top 10 books that inspired our project

At the beginning of 2017 Permanent Publications sent us an email expressing an interest to publish a book on our polyculture trials and experiences. I’d been thinking about writing this book for some time and responded with gleeful enthusiasm.  I’m happy to announce that we have signed the publishing agreement and have already started to work on the book.  The working title of the book is Polycultures –  Designing and Creating Polyculture Gardens, […]

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The Results – A Trial Looking at 5 Ways to Prepare Beds for Tree and Shrub Planting – Which one is the best?

Last year we started a trial to discover the best ways to prepare the ground for tree and shrub planting. We trialed five different methods and recorded the performance of each method looking at how long they took to implement and manage, how much they cost and how effective they are. I’ll start the post with why we prepare our ground in advance of planting then we will look at the […]

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5 ha Polyculture Farm Design – Suhi Dol Revisited

Paul Alfrey from Balkan Ecology Project shares with us his observations and thoughts in regards to a visit he made to a farm he designed and how it slowly developed into a polyculture of fruit trees, aquaculture and vegetable gardens.  Last week Dylan and I set off on a road trip to discover the flora and fauna of the North East of Bulgaria. Our first stop was to Catherine Zanev ‘s farm […]

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