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.

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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Mo’ Mulberry – The Essential Guide to All You Need to Know About Mulberry

Paul Alfrey from Balkan Ecology Project takes a close look at these incredible plants including how to grow them, the uses of Mulberry and growing Mulberry in polycultures, permaculture and agroforestry. Not many plants offer so much to the grower while demanding so little in return. A tree that requires so little attention and care, that even if there were an RSPP – Royal Society for the Protection of Plants […]

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The Amazing Hazel – The Essential Guide to Everything you need to know about Hazels

Hazel is a multi-purpose champion of a plant that is super easy to grow, produces delicious nuts, pliable wood that can be crafted into a variety of products, provides early fodder for bees and an encouraging spectacle when flowering during the mid-winter.

What more can I say…. a plant so good people started naming their daughters after it.

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Small Pond Installations for Irrigation and Wildlife – Part 2 – Liners

Welcome to part 2 in a series of posts from Balkan Ecology Project covering the installation of small irrigation and wildlife ponds. Part one can be found here and covers planning and digging a pond. During this post, we’ll look at liner options and the steps you need to take to install a liner for your pond. Pond Liner Options   The majority of ponds will need some kind of liner to […]

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5 Ways to Prepare Beds for Tree and Shrub Planting – Which One is Best?

Balkan Ecology Project have been looking at various ways to prepare beds for planting, specifically for planting trees and shrubs. During this post, we will be looking at various ways to prepare beds for planting, specifically for planting trees and shrubs. I’ll introduce you to a trial we started this spring where we’re looking at 5 different bed preparation methods to see which method works best. We’ll go through how […]

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