Poznań Bulgarians – masters of gardening

At the turn of the 19th and 20th century numerous economic migration movements took place in Bulgaria. Villages were overcrowded, whereas farms too small to support whole families. Therefore, many Bulgarians left their country seeking bread. Some of them settled in Poznań. After the Second World War their population grew to about 200 people.

Bulgarians mostly focused on gardening and growing vegetables. They combined the methods of cultivation from their home country with the perfect soil they found, especially in the Poznań district of Rataje. After some time, the local farmers from Rataje began to trust the newcomers and were keen to lease their land out to them. This is how one of the Bulgarians remembers these times:

The soil in Rataje was very fertile (…) Even in the case of a drought, everything grew well there (…) cauliflowers weighed 10 kilograms and leaves were 2 metres long. Celeriac was like a head – half a kilogram each! In the morning in May or June you would go to the field and watch dew glistening in yellow and blue, sometimes all colours at once… Oh, you did not waste energy, nothing, because when you were looking at all of that, your heart beat faster.

Main photo - Poznań Bulgarians – masters of gardening

Bulgarians grew local vegetables: onions, garlic, cabbages, cauliflowers, cucumbers, beans. They also popularised squash, aubergine, pepper and winter savoury which was used as a spice. These vegetables had not been so well-known before. Bulgarian gardeners formed companies of 6-12 people. They lived and worked together, maintained discipline and, after harvest, shared profit evenly. Vegetables from Bulgarians could be bought mainly in the market squares in Jeżyce, Łazarz and Wielkopolski Square.

The decision to build housing estates in Rataje was a terrible blow to Bulgarian gardeners. They were forced to leave or move to the villages surrounding Poznań.