Light Environmental Footprint
Sustainability is key for Startsevo not by choice, but rather by necessity. Difficult economic and environmental conditions in the Rhodope Mountains make it easier to live with nature than against it. We, too, have developed our guest house with as light an environmental footprint, as possible.
Farming in Startsevo is undertaken for subsistence only, mostly without relying on pesticides, commercial fertilizers, or other chemicals. Arable land is scarce, with every precious patch that is somewhat flat littered with tiny farms.
The sustainable farming of this region is less due to environmental consciousness, than a result of long-standing traditions and tough mountainous terrain that does not allow for industrialized agriculture. As with our own plentiful garden, there are stretches of organic farming all around the guest house. You can watch the locals tend their tiny farms mostly by manual means, or hear the occasional lawn mower in the distance.
Besides crops typical for the Rhodope Mountains, such as potatoes, beans, corn, and various vegetables, a wealth of local varieties are being preserved here - pumpkins, zucchini, onions, and many unique tomato and paprika variations. In addition, herbs, berries, and fruit trees are cultivated in a semi-wild fashion, spread in-between the patches of farmland. Lastly, plenty of beautiful flower beds all over the village provide spiritual enrichment.
As with organic farming, small-scale animal husbandry is common in Startsevo. Animal products are generated in limited quantities only, and either consumed right away, or sold locally.
For instance, next to our guest house we grow chicken, producing organic eggs and meat. At night, they are kept safe in a chicken coop, but walk and graze freely during the day. It is not only a pleasure to consume pastured poultry products, but moreover a delight to hear the sound of a rooster declaring daybreak.
Our neighbors keep cows and goats, creating high-quality dairy products, such as yoghurt, milk, butter, curd, and cottage cheese. Meat from goats and lambs is produced rather rarely, making it a local delicacy due to its outstanding quality.
Already sustainably constructed, our guest house has been retrofitted with additional means of energy efficiency that are gaining popularity in this region.
The guest house is geared towards self-sufficiency. Fresh water is provided by a deep well underneath the house, equipped with an electric pump and directly accessible from the basement. Warm water is generated by a SUNSYSTEM heater system, combining a solar collector on the roof with a large buffer tank, and tradition electrical water heating. Thus, between 80% and 100% of warm water is generated by sun power only.
Extraordinary thick walls, consisting predominantly of local stone, have been enhanced with thermal insulation in key spots of the outer facade to reduce energy use in winter. Sophisticated double-glazing windows ensure further energy saving. Heating is provided by a close circuit system, simultaneously delivering warm water and powering modern radiators throughout the house. The heating system runs on local wood, burnt in a compact and efficient furnace. This traditional mode of heating is wide-spread in the Rhodope Mountains, making sustainable use of the region's most plentiful natural resource.
Every year we grow a large amount of organic fruit and vegetables in our garden, some of which we preserve for later consumption.
Stay at one of our three guest rooms or rent a whole storey with kitchen and bathroom for complete privacy.
The guest house proprietors are locals, rooted in the traditional ways - be it customs, food, or crafts - yet subscribing to an international outlook.