A tasty start…….
The weather in Sofia this July has been hot, often going above 32C. The past few weeks have made me develop a new-found appreciation for three things: 1) the people (their kindness and enthusiasm); 2) the ways in the which people’s desires, skills and nature and its elements (water, sun, bees etc) come together; and 3) the city. Sofia is green, from the pots and plants perched on almost every balcony, window sill and roof, to those hidden in buildings’ corridors, between apartments blocks and any conceivable space. Some greener than others, but herbs, happily coexist with flowers and tomatoes all over the city.
What these spaces show is the connections that exist with nature, and the assemblage of skills – some passed on, some glimpsed from books and Youtube videos – that weave through the city, and its hot concrete infrastructure. Such connections can only emerge out of planning traditions and practices of urban living and sustenance that aim to actively engage with the environment. One doesn’t need to climb high up Vitosha Mountain (towards which Sofia is crawling) to see the green corridors built into the city to keep it cool in the summer.
I was lucky enough to meet a group of great urban gardening enthusiast over the past two weeks. The group is aptly named Градина за Дружба (which can be translated as Garden for partnership), currently located in a neighbourhood called Partnership 2, within a close proximity of Iskar River which runs through Sofia and right next to a large flower garden.
You have to be enthusiastic to get up early in the morning, even on the weekends and plant, water and remove weeds, week after week. A few hours spent in the garden make it clear that people get a lot more than the tasty tomatoes and peppers (thank you Slavcho!)
Kina, Slavcho, Ani and Nikola, thank you for happily chatting with me while working in the hot sun! And for letting me pick green peppers, courgettes and cucumbers straight from the stems. I went home covered in mud and smiling, and made soup.
I look forward to learning more about your nexus (food-water-energy-environment) practices in the coming weeks.