From New York fashion stage to Akandzhievo organic farm

Valentina and Christian’s incredible journey spans continents and careers. They lived in the US for over 10 years, became famous models and fashion shop owners, and dressed Hollywood stars. But they have never forgotten their hometown of Akandzhievo in Bulgaria.

They believed in the magic of connecting with nature. After the birth of their son, they moved back to Bulgaria and founded Pura Vida Organic Farm, where they grow organic fruits and vegetables. It was not easy to move from New York, where they had invested a lot, to a rural Bulgarian region.

Their journey started at local markets where they sold their healthy produce. Now they feed their family on the farm and offer gardening and nature camps for children and families. They have even built a sustainable guesthouse for tourists. They also share their story online, spreading the word about their farm and their passion for nature. Valentina and Christian, once fashion stars, are now stewards of the land, storytellers and advocates of a sustainable lifestyle.

Why is it regenerative?

Valentina and Christian’s story exemplifies regenerative tourism through the transformation of an abandoned plot of land in their hometown of Akandzhievo into the Pura Vida organic farm. Through sharing their story at farmers’ markets, organising family gardening and nature camps, and offering sustainable accommodation to tourists, they are actively engaged in regenerative tourism.

Project partners met in Aveiro on the 14th and 15th of September 2023. It was the perfect opportunity to visit the destination with regenerative glasses on, to understand its many assets but also some of the challenges the destination is facing. Face to face project meetings always provide the partners with the unique opportunity to learn about the work of the hosting partner and get valuable insights about the destination. In this case partners were hosted by the dedicated team of management and tourism professionals of the University of Aveiro who shared a wealth of insights about a city that was new to many of the participants.

The Enforce project is well on track when it comes to the project work plan, which means that after having completed the Best Practice collection of innovative examples about storytelling for regeneration and also the Storyteller’s Guide, partners used the meeting to discuss the development of the Enforce Training Programme.

For the next few months partners will be working on developing the content in line with guidelines provided by the University of Usak, our project partner from Turkey.
The course should be available for piloting in January/February 2024 and will also be available in the partner languages once all translations are finalised.

The ENFORCE team met in the beautiful city of Luxembourg for its kick-off meeting. It took place at the premises of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg (also known as CCIL), which opened its doors to warmly welcome all partners.

The team was aware of the importance of this first meeting and approached it with the same enthusiasm, as it plays an important role in building strong bonds that will contribute to the success of the entire cooperation. With the common goal of building a solid foundation, the participants discussed in depth the first steps required for the project ENFORCE.

During this visit, the project objectives were discussed in depth to ensure that each partner has a comprehensive understanding of the overarching goals. The outcome of the kick-off meeting was extremely satisfying for all partners and generated enthusiasm among the team. It was a success and left everyone inspired and energised.

The journey of ENFORCE has officially begun and with the collective expertise of the committed partners, there is no doubt that it will thrive and achieve remarkable results.


“The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein”

Project N: 2022-1-LU01-KA220-VET-000089887

© 2024 Enforce Project
Skip to content