After a year as a volunteer with PLANT, I notice that wherever I go now I am very aware of vegetable gardens, and so, while on holiday recently in Slovenia, I found myself in conversation with local gardeners. (Luckily for me, most folk in Slovenia speak good English). It seems there is still a culture of cultivating vegetable plots, even in the most vertiginous of slopes, (see photo). The vegetable plots almost always had huts on them and, at the weekend, it seems a natural gathering place for all the family. The crops grown were all recognisable, although they seemed much further on than ours and some, like the sweetcorn, were grown outside. June is cherry season and anyone who had a tree in their garden was up a ladder picking. Needless to say the cherries were delicious.
Another thing that impressed me about Slovenia was that the roadside verges, in the towns and in the country, were rarely mown so, as you would expect, there was an abundance of wild flowers. This in turn attracted bees and other pollinators. The type of agriculture seemed to favour a meadow type of haymaking which again encouraged wildflowers and grasses. Many of the villages held weekly markets where local produce was sold including some very tasty honey. Slovenia, not surprisingly, has a healthy beekeeping culture.
I had an interesting conversation with a Slovenian women who lived near an old abbey. She was working to restore the medicinal plants which had once grown there before the nuns abandoned the grounds. Slovenia is the third most wooded country in Europe with a wealth of natural beauty. It’s a nature lover’s paradise with plenty of walking, cycling, kayaking, wild swimming and bird-watching options.
All in all, this friendly, veg growing country is definitely worth a visit!