The Zagreb Times Sinke

Roman Catholic priest Mladen Stivin had only 28 years when he was appointed to lead the parish of Vocin, a small town in the vicinity of Pozega. Full of vigor and dedication, the young clergyman was soon finishing the works on the local Church Pohoda Blazene Djevice Marije, ready to answer every challenge the local community might have. But as he was taking his role, he noticed that the surroundings of the church were perfect for a flower garden. Soon, he decided to pursue yet another passion he had in life- that of a gardener.  Soon, Vocin received what could be called a priest’s garden, and the site’s popularity bloomed all over the Pozega County.

“I didn’t have much at the beginning. But as time went on, I begun to add more plants, some of them coming from the distant parts of the world,” father Stivin explained. Today, the priest’s garden of Vocin has about 350 different floral assets, both of local and foreign nature. It is virtually a botanical garden, allowing its guests to see trees of oak and acacia as well as Japanese maple and Istrian marun. Stivin has also added distinct species of lemon, magnolia and hibiscus. However, his biggest pride is a near-extinct specimen of kadarka vine, alongside with almost 150 rose kinds.

But the hard-working priest didn’t stay at that. He makes his own herb creams, using ingredients from the very garden he planted, or those acquired during his walks in the deep Pozega forests. Stivin also makes teas, compotes and syrups.

“Members of parish receive my products for free. Others are welcome to provide some donation, which will be used to buy the necessary oils and boxes,” Stivin concluded. “So far, I know that cremes are used by balley dancers, and one air attendant brought them abroad. Tourists have a like of them, too.”

If being near Pozega, have a short ride to Vocin and see the fruit of Priest’s garden.  Share your experience in our comments section below.

Photo: Vlado Kos / CROPIX Profimedia
(Ballerina inserted for illustration purposes)