Community development

The Social Herbal Garden winner

A herbal garden created in collaboration between elderly local gardeners from Benkovski village and youth suffering social exclusion


Who is behind this?

Tihomir Donev




Idea pitch

We want to create a community-based garden which supports excluded youngsters & elderly gardeners from rural areas. Our idea creates safe space for work, growth and learning and possibility for intergenerational dialogue. We solve 2 problems at once- we offer employment to excluded youngsters due to their special needs or background and help to keep the gardening and herbal heritage of the region. All produced herbs will be dried and used for tea in our Social Teahouse in Varna.

Where will your project idea take place?

We will function in Benkovski village, Avren Municipality.

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

We foresee to start working in a village called Benkovski in Avren Municipality. Exclusion of youth with special needs and NEETS from social life and labor market are a fact in all parts of Bulgaria, but in rural area that is even more visible. . Near Avren and Varna there are many small villages where there is no work, no possibilities, no cultural life or any social interaction for people without special needs- so you can imagine what kind of exclusion people with special needs face. We plan to foster the social cohesion by creating intergenerational dialogue and safe space for work and growth between the local elderly residents with gardening experience and the youth with special needs and NEETs background.

Who are you doing it for?

1) The youngsters with special needs and NEETS/poverty background
2) The local community in Benkovski
3) The Social Teahouse which is need of fresh herbs, which we want to produce and donate to the Teahouse, rather import from abroad
4) The costumers of the Teahouse who can benefit from local-farmed herbs and spices in different free events and community gatherings

How do you plan to get there?

1. Rent/buy a plot in village of Benkovski, Avren municipality
2. Train the youngsters - we have access to all social institutions due to our work in The Social Teahouse and we know what we need to do administratively and in practice to prepare them
3. Work on the plot to prepare with local gardeners and slowly start mixing the groups for intergenerational learning and dialogue. Task responsibility and impact is based on open communication and co-management
4. Produce herbs for donation to the Teahouse and support more youngsters by mentorship or employment
5. Share our story to create more Herbal shared gardens in other rural areas

What are the expected results?

It will be so different! For the first time we will have excluded and marginalised youngsters happy, supported and included. We will have re-energized and back to community contact elderly gardeners from a rural area who will feel beneficial for sharing their experience and supporting youngsters, which sometimes society forgets. Last but least, in the Teahouse there will be fresh local herbs and we can have one more place which supports local environmental heritage. The village of Benkovski will be a bit more alive in social contacts, conversation and now we will have a small village miracle co-created by youth, elderly and nature.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The local community in Benkovski does not have any platform to gather, engage or participate in community projects. We are quite diverse ethnically and culturally, but due to poverty or social norms we don't engage in many common actions as citizens together. Me as both resident of Benkovski and Varna, I can see this project as a growth-village-team building. I am sure that my elderly co-villagers would be interested and curious to support the youngsters from Varna and Avren in their learning-gardening path, and vice-versa. We foresee the garden to function as a community based project on decision making level and to support the culture of co-management in all areas.

Why is this idea important to you?

I am committed to create the Herbal garden on so many levels- as a person living in Benkovski and seeing the problems of elderly forgotten people, as an advocate for social inclusion, as board member of The Teahouse, as a parent who wants to develop the region my kids are growing in. The mission of the idea is inclusion and smart development ( not smart as in technologies, but smart as smart).

€ 57000,-

Total budget

€ 50000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Buying plot can be cheaper that actually renting it- approx 10 K
Watering, greenhouse, piping, wood work - 14 000 K
Seeds, raised beds, equipment - 1 K
Transportation costs - 1 K
Mentorship, training, social security, sheltered employment on all team - 20 K
Water/electricity costs - 4 K annually
Drying/Packaging - 6 K
Communication - 1 K
Our contribution - around 10 K

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Have you seen any idea like that before? Did it work?

Project Journey

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Idea created on May 24, 2020
Last edit on Aug. 3, 2020

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