A trip to Ilindentsi, in the Struma Valley at the foot of the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria to SOFERA, mid-October 2022

A trip to Ilindentsi, in the Struma Valley at the foot of the Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria to SOFERA, mid-October 2022

Report by Sonja Zausch

Filled with the warm autumn sun, ripe fruits, warm people and powerful nature in the southern Bulgarian region near the Greek and Macedonian borders, I write these lines. The association SOFERA was founded four years ago by parents, therapists and pedagogues. A place for social farming – with regular meetings of the Bulgarian Biodynamics Working Group – is being built, with youth and young adults with assistance needs. I hope that many visitors, staff and residents will feel and experience this power and participate in this community.

The name SOFERA is as rich in content as the project idea:
Social Farming, Sophia/Anthroposophy and “Sofra”, the Bulgarian word for a low table around which people gather communally to eat.
The idea, the activity and the gesture are named – the guiding star of anthroposophy, social agriculture and inclusive community are elegantly and meaningfully united in this word SOFERA.

On the one hand, SOFERA is located in a very unusual place at 450 m in the mountains, because creative people already live here. There is a sculpture park including studios of an important Bulgarian sculptor, accommodation in beautiful mud houses, not far away the important Rila Monastery, which was already visited by Ita Wegman, as well as hot springs, a modern church of a Bulgarian clairvoyant, contemporary excavation sites of the Thracians by the Archaeological Faculty of Sofia University, a special climate and thus a rich biodiversity.

On the other hand, building social agriculture and basic perspectives for people with assistance needs is quite a new territory in Bulgaria.
In an entrepreneurial way of thinking, one can ask, how does a well-managed process of organizational development succeed, so that the needs of the founders and the interested people can connect with the project and the project can be a long-term contribution to agriculture and a model for the social community in Bulgaria?

During my stay, which included a workshop at the inclusive Waldorf school in Sofia (“Speaking and listening from the heart – a possible attitude for an inclusive society”), a radio interview at Bulgarian National Radio and a small eurythmy workshop for the contemplation of social processes, I endeavored not to give answers and suggestions, but to understand first and foremost the inner attitude in the encounter with the people and to enter into a compassionate dialogue.
An exciting path … and it continues on this path! It’s getting clearer and we have plans for a next get together! If anyone feels passionate and has the expertise to accompany these steps and/or work on site, we would be very happy to hear from you.



Impression from the workshop on 22.10.2022 about biodynamic work at Sofera