Previous and future projects
It is our mission to be the guardian of this land and our residents. As you can imagine the list for future projects is getting bigger and bigger. Here are a few of the projects we did in the Autumn/Winter of 2021-22. And some projects that are planned for in the nearby future.
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Native tree and nitrogen fixing tree planting
In 2021, we were lucky enough to be donated 65 fruit trees. This Autumn we focused on native trees and nitrogen fixing trees and plants. The native trees provide ideal habitat for the local wildlife and don’t need much care or water to survive in this climate. The nitrogen fixing trees/plants put nitrogen back into the earth which is a vital component for the fruit trees to flourish and thrive. In total we have planted over 300 trees so far, with a lot more planned to put into the grounds in the nearby future.
Our dear friends the worms. There is no soil without these guys. Our worm compost is pretty much a worm hotel. We loaded two bathtubs with rich, aged goat manure, added a layer of dirt from the garden, and topped it off with a thick layer of nitrogen rich mulch such as grass cuttings. Almost every day we use our kitchen scraps to load on top of the mulch, providing the worms with a never ending feast. As the worms feed on all of the organic matter in the bath tub they leave behind the purest of fertilisers, worm castings. This is the perfect food for any trees or plants. We also water the worm compost which drains out of the bath tub which we then collect and water our trees with. This really is liquid gold.
Fire resistant tree planting
In the summer of 2021 we had a huge scare, wildfires all over Greece including Paros. The fires in Paros started just 200m from Mesovounia, but we were blessed to have the wind on our sides. The North wind carried the fires away from our boarders but only highlighted our vulnerability. As the world heats up due to climate change we know it’s only a matter of time before the wind isn’t on our side, but hopefully by then we will be better equipped. This year we planted fire resistant trees and plants on all of our boarders which are proven to slow fires down. Trees and plants such as carob, agave, prickly pear and many more. This is something we would love to organise meetings for, to educate and share ideas.
Solar panels on the roof + new roof for the communal space
We were very luckily to have received two big donations to help us become more self-sufficient and green, the best and most reliable source to get our electricity, is by solar. It is allowing us to have a fridge, use tools for the land and live on the land in the little cottage. As well as organise workshops, and welcome visitors. Now the next step is to finish the space, and start to create events or host volunteers and visitors.
Building a donkey shed
Last winter we had only 2 donkeys who fitted perfectly in our 'future living room' space, that we are using now as a donkey shed. But since we have 5 donkeys now, we need a donkey shed to provide for more shade and help in the winter times where it can snow and rain quite a lot. Donkeys' coats tend to be longer and coarser than those of the horse, and they do not produce as much natural grease as horses. Donkeys are therefore more susceptible to climatic conditions such as rain, wind and snow. Therefore shelter is necessary in the winter. If we can't find the funding this winter, we will have to use the 'future kitchen area' as a donkey shed as well, but both spaces are far from their field which isn't ideal. If they have a donkey shed on their field, they have their own choice to go in their field or find shelter.
Taking care of the already exciting trees
We feel so lucky with the trees this land was already blessed with, from 500 year old olive trees (including the Trouba - that you can eat straight from the tree), to old lemon/orange trees, almond, loquat, figs, quince, mulberry, cypress, cider and many more. Some of them we started to treat with neem oil, we build an irrigation system to water most and we will continue to give them some manure of the animals and mulch to make them happier.
Safari tent for volunteers/vets in training
It would be fantastic to be able to host volunteers all year around that can help with the nature reserve part of the project or get vets in training that need a space to stay.
Building a duck pond
This is something we are very excited about, since our ducks love being in the water, and more importantly need it. We are planning to make a pond this winter (2022-2023), with a irrigation system to water the trees planted around. We got them already in the space we want, in between the figs and olive trees, where they have enough space to explore, find shade and protection if needed. The pond and another additional home is the last step they need to have a comfortable and happy home for all our ducks.
A plan to get more bees on the land
We all know how important bees are, and since we already have ancient bee hives on the land and want to build more bee hives. We are planning to attract them, while planting more (wild)flowers on the land, and leave the wildflowers that are already growing alone till after they have flowered. We also will not take the honey off the bees and leave them alone in peace.
Fundraiser: New space just for the bigger farm animals
Fundraiser to take new farm animals on a new piece of land. We first want to start by thanking everyone who has supported us so far and believing in our project to help these animals that deserve so much more! We are however in a desperate position, we want to help all these animals, but have learned now that our land is not big enough and suitable for so many equinox. We have received many
requests (incl. from nearby islands), and although we want to help them all, with the land we got now we can only take so many. The land is on a sloop and not ideal for bigger farm animals. That is why we are looking for a flat piece of land that is easy accessible for the straw truck to reach, and overgrazed and tilted (which will be already very difficult to change). We had the idea to keep it dedicated for only the farm animals and keep Mesovounia in Kostos for mostly the nature reserve part of this project. The idea of moving them around is great and will work on many parts on the world, but unfortunately it's not realistic for the bigger animals since you will need a lot of land and Paros is too expensive, it is however realistic for the smaller farm animals.
If you would like to contribute and get a better idea on costs, please see our Facebook post on this subject or contact us on by email on info@mesovounia and we would be happy to answer any questions or show you around to see the project.
Building bird houses
We love to hear and see may different birds, especially when we get to see a few migrating from Africa, with all their different shapes and colours. Since the fire from this summer (2021), that started only a few hundreds meters from the land, and destroyed their natural habitat, we decided to next to planting loads more shrubs and bushes for them to live in, to also build a few bird houses in different sizes for them to have a safe heaven to nest.
We have noticed how important it is to catch your own water, especially after the rough year of drought and heat we have had in 2020-2021. We are planning to invest in water tanks, better water catchment on the land and from the house. As well as being connected to a neighbours water well, which we will need a pump and water lines for. And although it is an investment, it will be great to have for us and the generations to come. Since the land has so much trees and plants, and is going to have even more, as well as the duck pond, water is essential and a priority to let everything thrive and flourish and attract more diversity in fauna and flora.
Medical treatment room
We have noticed how important it is to have a dedicated treatment room for our smaller animals. Somewhere where they can be safely treated in cages, where it's sterile and everything is stored. For more complicated treatments we will of course seek the advice of the vet or what we have done many times so far is seek advice from Alkioni (the Aegean wildlife hospital). Which helps a lot, but we still need a space to treat them after. For example, we have many chickens and turkeys that needed a 10-day scale leg mite treatment, we had ducks that were either sick or had broken legs and all of them needed to be isolated to treat them probably and have them safe to not cause more harm. A medical treatment room would be ideal for that, we already have 4 walls, but will need a new floor, door, window and a new roof installed. We also have a space behind it that is partly outdoors, but safe enough for the animals to rehabilitate and get strong enough to get back with the others. Help with this project would be extremely appreciated and necessary.
Finishing the Mulberry cottage
Which we named this way, because it is located next to a massive mulberry tree who is providing as a natural pergola. Although the cottage is being lived in already, there are a few adjustments that needs to be made, such as replacing the old windows that are falling apart. We were very lucky that we got some support to finish the bathroom and got all the plumbing connected in the year of 2021. As well as all our solar panels that are working fully since the summer of 2022.
Heritage Seed Library
We are constantly trying to get heritage seeds from locals, and try to safe them. It is so important to safe and collect seeds, they are resilient and stronger to survive in changing weather conditions. It would be our honour to try to save heritage seeds, and give them to locals.
Community mulching machine
Mulching is so simple but so effective, we have noticed the major difference between the trees that were mulched well and the trees that were exposed and had the sun directly touch the soil around the trees. Mulch keeps the soil more hidden, and makes sure it doesn't evaporates from the sun. It will save on water and it would be great to invest in a mulching machine that the community can benefit from, as well as using it to get rid off old pruning and keep the trees more hydrated.