Adolescents and the Nature, Land and Understanding Human Civilisation

We need a science of peace. When people understand that they are part of the same family of the same nation – peace can happen. Living in a community of peers aids morality, self-discipline and valorisation. It can help them to be at peace with themselves.

Maria Montessori worked on developing constructive peace for mankind. She declared the necessity of the science of peace (nowadays, not history).

The adolescent is a social newborn, arrives in a new world, and needs a larger environment. They need a residential life and real work. They need nature and a space for contemplation—a specially prepared environment that corresponds to their needs: countryside, physical work and activities, fresh air, and healthy food.

“… to take him away from the very confused and complicated environment of the great cities to an atmosphere of calm and peace where his vocation may have the chance of developing,” says Maria Montessori.

Why the social experience is not enough during the “regular school time”?

Living in a community of peers helps self-valorise. Social life helps develop self-discipline and morality. And these two nurture each other and bring peace to man and the world.

What does the work look like?

It is meaningful, real work to sustain the environment and community. This work is necessary for other work to happen. It gives integrity to adolescents. It provides the idea of dignity. In terms of development, this kind of work gives independence. It brings respect for oneself and others. There is moral development, too. The organisation comes along. We can find the division of labour.

Maria Montessori talks about alternating the work of rotation. When we are a community, we all have to participate in the work that needs to be done.

Participating in the workings of society, spending time on the land, and taking care of animals and plants bring adolescents an experience of human civilisation and sustainable living. Their life has an individual story, which is part of the story of humanity. They practice serving humanity in the environment to serve their fellow adolescents and a better society and world in the future.

We have arrived at the farm! Ready to get back to and give back to nature.

Day 1

We arrived at the farm full of spirit after a train ride from Sofia. Arriving in Tserevo the students quickly went to work ridding the local shop of healthy snacks, and we embarked on our 50-minute two-mile hike up into the hills.

Ian and Cat greeted us warmly and sat down for a quick cup of tea to go over our week and the basic dos and don’ts of the farm. Then it was straight to work. Ian led the students to the goats and got them milked before they wandered them around the trail. The children were eager to show their inner goatherd.

Cat cooked us a wonderful dinner, and the students quickly demolished the homemade bread before settling in for the night. Tomorrow brings new activities and more chances to reflect and ponder over the beautiful scenery.

Day 2

Today, we woke up refreshed from our first night on the farm. Well rested, we ate our porridge and then set about milking the goats before setting off up the ridge to chop wood. Twelve trees later and all of our limbs intact, we returned to the main house for a lunch of chicken liver, pumpkin and potato soup and homemade bread and butter.

After lunch, we rested, and the students did their schoolwork. Some wandered around the farm to marvel at the surroundings and feed the dogs. Some followed Ian in herding the goats around the nearby mountain trails.

The afternoon brought a glut of activity as we had a soap-making class with Ian, and we picked enough potatoes to feed a navy. We then cleared a whole garden patch in readiness to dig a trench for further planting. The guys then sat down to a dinner of Cat’s famous homemade banitsa.

Tomorrow we plan to go foraging in the forests and celebrate Cat’s birthday with more banitsa and homemade cake!

Day 3

On our third day, we started with a beautiful sunrise before a breakfast of banitsa and homemade juice. The students tidied their bedroom with military precision, and we went to clear a trail with a machete and saw on the way to the village of Bov.

In the afternoon, we hiked back down to Tserovo to savour the delights of the local mini market before coming back up and getting to work on digging a 10-metre trench. We then laid the fencing and hammered it into place.

In the evening, we started the celebrations for Cat’s birthday. She served up delightful burgers and chips with fresh, homemade salsa, which vanished pretty quickly. Then we sang into the night around a huge fire pit.

Day 4

Top Left: Amji preparing the hay with a sickle. Bottom left: A messy Marti after preparing the adobe mixture. Bottom right: Preparing our school garden plot. Middle right: Weeding in preparation for the school garden. Top right: Daniels applying slick to the doorframe.

After last night’s celebrations for Cat’s birthday, we had a tiny bit of a lie-in. After a delicious creamy porridge, we went on a long walk to a clay pit to collect clay soil to prepare the adobe mixture. Walking back, we saw a beautiful white horse grazing on the hillside.

We finished off the morning fencing the planting area of the garden so the goats don’t get cheeky and nibble all the vegetables. Lunch was delicious homemade pizza, and it was off to work again, weeding and stripping the garden beds of all the things that could affect our future plants.

Tonight is our last night on the farm, and we’re all thankful for the week we’ve had. We feel we’ve prepared the groundwork for future groups.

Day 5

Our first week on the farm ended, and we left with such great memories. The weather was extremely kind to us all week, and we felt fortunate to have had the opportunity to start our farming experience.

Waking up to expertly made pancakes from Antoan and Georgi we started the day inspecting our adobe work from the day before. We then moved on to a demonstration of preserving the tomatoes and seeing the process. It was beautiful seeing the students understand using every possible way we need to conserve and take care of what we eat.

Chopping wood followed to keep the house warm for the coming groups and the house well into the winter months. The students tended to the new school garden, making sure it was ready for next week’s group to take over. They did great work in laying the foundations.

Then, sadly, it was time to pack up and leave. The students made sure they swept and mopped everywhere. We were leaving everywhere just as they found it. It was a fantastic experience for the students to learn in nature. They gave a lot back to nature, and the fruits of their work were felt in their hands, minds and their tummies. With a huge thanks from Ian and Cat we put on our backpacks and trailed off the mountain.

Truly a memorable experience!