Article by Jocelyn Parrot, Urgenci (Photographs by ZMag)
Our eighth episode of the Mediterranean Caravan Podcast is now live on Anchor and Spotify. Join us to discover the “Recycled Estate” in Croatia and meet Dražen and Alen!
Last Spring, the Mediterranean Caravan had the chance to travel through a training in Belgrade, Serbia for Agroecology knowledge collectors. During the trip, URGENCI teamed up with Denis Carel, a shepherd from southern France, and François Guiton, a long-time member of the French AMAP movement (MIRAMAP). On the way, the team breathed life into the Mediterranean Caravan of Agroecology by identifying groundbreaking agroecological initiatives.
After the visit to Demijan’s regenerative garden, the third stop for URGENCI’s team in the Balkans was at the “Recycled Estate,” an educational center and eco-social community near Zagreb, Croatia. After a long night of driving, they woke up to the relaxing songs of birds in the forest. It was the perfect setup for sitting down and listening to what the hosts, Dražen Šimleša and Alen Cerovac, members of the ZMAG association, had to tell them about this inspiring place.
The “Recycled Estate”
The “Recycled Estate” combines the functions of a training and educational center with a living space for agroecology practitioners. Located around 25 km south of Zagreb in the village of Vukomerić, it was established a few years ago by the ZMAG association (Green network of activist groups) as a way to experiment with and share sustainable practices. Agroecological food gardens were developed in the beginning, followed by the construction of natural buildings to allow members to live on-site. The “Recycled Estate” welcomes visitors from different backgrounds including schools and university students, and also hosts partner organizations when they hold certain activities.
ZMAG association leads projects and trainings revolving around 4 strategic themes: agroecology, natural building, social and solidarity economy, and education about sustainability.
The ZMAG association has a broad vision of agroeocology. In addition to running food gardens, orchards, and forests, the association is also active in seed preservation: it manages a network of Croatian seed savers and takes part in a working group within the ministry of agriculture to push for better seed policies. The association also works on linking agroecological producers to consumers by organizing weekly vegetable basket pickups and managing yearly meetings for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) groups operating in Croatia.
The ZMAG association’s team organizes workshops on building houses from local natural and recycled materials, the tiniest houses (15 m2) can usually be completed during a weekend course.
Check out the video below for an overview of the ZMAG association’s natural building workshops:
Find out more about the ZMAG association
The ZMAG association (Green network of activist groups) brings together organic gardeners, practitioners of applicable technologies and eco-building, permaculture designers, researchers of equitable social models of organization and equal interpersonal relationships, and environmental activists.
You will find the other episodes also on socioeco.org: The Mediterranean Caravan Podcast (CSA in Italy Serbia, …)