Mitrovica Urban Garden

From 24th of May to 2nd of June 2018, 25 young people from 5 Balkan countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia) gathered together in Mitrovica, Kosovo for the Mitrovica Urban Garden youth exchange organized by GAIA – SCI Kosovo as part of the 3Peas Project supported by the Erasmus+ program.

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Vertical Garden in Down Syndrome Kosova, Mitrovica, 2018. Copyright: GAIA – SCI Kosovo

 The infamous divided city provided us with an opportunity to see it for what it is beyond the prejudices – a city of cultural diversity, rivers and rock music. During the nine days we got to experience an alternative reality - one of community, sharing and a more sustainable way of living.

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Visiting Fafos Factory, Mitrovica, 2018. Copyright: GAIA – SCI Kosovo 

As a colorful group of foreigners staying at Down Syndrome Kosova in the city center we may have raised a few eyebrows, but after a couple of days of wandering about, people got used to having us around, and were curious to see who we are and what are we doing. During intense days of learning the theory behind permaculture design, we tried to discover a little bit of the complex history and reality of Mitrovica – practising the first principle of permaculture – Observe and Interact. Abundant with ores, the city gave us a chance to rethink the distribution of resources and how our consumption impacts our surroundings. We got to visit the famous Trepca mine, the industrial quarters of the Fafos Factory and archaeological site, as well as escape from the urban environment for a day of reconnecting with nature in the serene Bajgora mountain.

Coming back to the city meant finally putting everything into practice and starting our own little urban garden at home in Down Syndrome Kosova. This meant cleaning up, creating a compost and vertical garden, and painting together with the guys from DSK, all of which turned out to be the most memorable and overwhelming part of the whole youth exchange.

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Compost, Mitrovica, 2018. Copyright: GAIA – SCI Kosovo

The bridge over the river Ibar tells a story of division and fear, but as permaculture tries to teach us about care and integration, we saw it as a bridge that connects. Hopefully this will prove to be just a small part of a much bigger permaculture story and the beginning of our work in Mitrovica.
For a more personal take on the youth exchange, you can read about the experience of Karla, one of our participants.

GAIA Kosovo will be hosting many other activities in the next months, so if you’re looking to spend your summer in a fun and challenging atmosphere, while living sustainably in a quirky international community, check out our other volunteering opportunities:

Permaculture workcamp from 30th of June until 13th of July: Go(o)dwilly village camp in Bozevce village

(Stari) Draganac workcamp from the 20th to the 30th of July.

Environmental Arts and Crafts Space - two workcamps with kids in Imaginatorium (Gracanica)  from 6th untill 19th of August and from 17th until 30th of August 

Short-term volunteer service in Brezovica – 16.07-24.08.2018 - 5 volunteers from Western Balkan countries will spend 6 weeks in Brezovica, Kosovo with focus on organizing international youth event (BREfest) and support summer programs of GAIA in Sharr Mountain.
Call for volunteers (apply by 25th of June 2018).

Youth for Sharr gathering in Brezovica ski resort – 31.07-14.08.2018 - 2 weeks’ gathering of 36 youth from Western Balkans, Bulgaria and Croatia. Programme includes 4 panels with 9 participants in each: art colony, wild summer school, storytelling workshop, traditional knowledge field trip.
Call for participants and facilitators (apply by 30th of June 2018).

BREfest in Brezovica ski resort – 10-12.08.2018 - 3-days’ youth event, celebrating diversity and exchange in Sharr through art, music, DIY workshops, discussions. (Pictures, videos and stories from volunteers from BREfest 2017)


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