Contact person:

Dimitar Stanchev

researcher agroforestry at Inargo

Living Lab 3: Bulgaria

Managed by: Bee farm Strandzha 

General information
The Living Lab farm is located in the south-eastern part of Bulgaria, in the low-mountain region of Strandzha, and is surrounded by deciduous forests. The average altitude is 297 m.  The farmer owns part of the cultivated land and forests, and another part is leased. 

Farm owners are motivated to use agroforestry practices because of the opportunity to produce clean, natural food and preserve biodiversity and soil fertility. Their main product is a special kind of honey, which is produced by certified organic apiaries. The honey is processed in their own automatic unsealing line and automatic centrifuges, with no contact with the human hand. Other products are walnut and hazelnut tahini and functional foods based on honey.

Another goal of the farmers is to conserve the donkey population in the area.
A primary motive in their work is the restoration and development of the region and local communities.

General farming approach
Integrated farming with a tendency towards organic farming. 

The bees in the farm are certified for organic production. 


The main objective is to produce organic honey, grains, and vegetables. 


  • Lack of manpower;
  • Climatic changes – drought, uneven distribution of precipitation during the growing season.

Research goals
Periodic monitoring of biodiversity and soil condition. 

Collection of a database of botanical composition, presence of poisonous, harmful, and rare plants. 
Collection of a database on the productivity of grasslands, determination of the ratio of leguminous and cereal plants in meadows, the density of grass cover, and seasonal aspects of vegetation in grasslands. Determination of quality of grass biomass (chemical composition and nutritional value).
Investigation of the territory to establish basic physical and chemical properties of the soil.
Identification of the honey plants in the fields around the apiary.
Investigating the possibility of introducing new honey plants into the farm.
Estimation of carbon in soil and woody vegetation.
Exploring the possibilities of using a drone with multispectral cameras and portable sensors for vegetation monitoring.

Design of the agroforestry system
The main agroforestry system is forest farming – bee hives in forest glades. At the moment farm have 16 apiaries, at a distance more than 2 km each other, to ensuring sufficient bee pasture for bees from each apiary. 

Another system is silvopastoral – 8 ha pasture plot with trees around and group at threes into the pasture for growing horses, donkeys, ponies, sheep and goats.
The farmers plan to create an alley agroforestry system with fruit trees and expand the irrigation system when growing vegetables.

Periodic monitoring of biodiversity and soil condition is being conducted, as well as pollen analysis of the produced honey in order to correctly determine its type and as an indirect indicator of the biodiversity on the farm. Meteorological observations from own weather station take place
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8 ha pasture (silvopastoral farming); 16 apiaries located in open areas in deciduous forest

Silvoarable, forest farming

Arable & horticulture

Established in 2009

Vegetables - mainly onions, potatoes
Field crops - wheat, barley, oats, maize, sunflower

Livestock: Yes (donkey; horses; sheep and goats; chickens, turkeys, rabbits, geese, quails)