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A Year in Green Tea and Tuk-Tuks: My unlikely adventure creating an eco farm in Sri Lanka [Paperback]

Rory Spowers
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 11.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 April 2010

BBC journalist and environmentalist Rory Spowers wanted to finally live his dream and abandon life in London for a more ecologically sustainable lifestyle. Moving with his wife and two toddler sons to a 60-acre abandoned tea estate in Sri Lanka, Rory sets out to create a model organic farm there and earn his livelihood from the land.

The fascinating story begins with the tsunami and Rory's sudden involvement with the relief efforts, and charts the course of his adventures over 12 months culminating in the launch of his new business (making a living by selling the produce he grows). It chronicles the highs and lows of this radical change, and reveals what it takes to live a sustainable life. It will also include tips for those of you who wish to live a more environmentally friendly life.

Spowers' writing in ‘Three Men on a Bike’, which recounted his story of buying the Goodies' bicycle and riding it across Africa for charity, was compared with Bryson, Palin and Hawks' for his storytelling, humour and intrepid spirit.

Spowers’ narrative brims with adventure, harrowing moments, and small triumphs as he comes to know the people and the land and works toward creating his dream of a sustainable, model forest garden.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Element; (Reissue) edition (2 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007233094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007233090
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 147,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"a book of great charm and warmth that captures perfectly the
restless spirit of all of us. I heartily recommend it"
-- Tim Smit, co-founder of the The Eden Project

From the Back Cover

"Rory Spowers writes with candour and wit about the agony and
ectasy of trying to live the green dream with his young family on an
abandoned Sri Lanka tea plantation... inspiring stuff", Hugh

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spicy breezes o'er Ceylon's Isle 8 Sep 2007
Where every prospect pleases .(and only man is vile)... to quote from a missionary poem on Sri Lanka. Since reading this book, I have made Rory Spower's Samakanda website my home page - but for how long I wonder as it is at least one year out of date though it still has some nice pictures with a peaceful feel. This is an account of setting up an organic forest garden estate on the island of Sri Lanka covering the period of one year. Based on the website - I have doubts that the initial flowering indicated in the book is yielding Spowers the income he deserves or expected ... he will need to build on a career as a writer and communicator and not as the agriculturalist he is seeking to become. The obvious flaw in the book is that it only represents a one year account and is thus still not backed up by core knowledge and experience on settling down in Sri Lanka (and the evidence for this in a period of greater than one year is yet to come). Spowers does not actually express what he thinks about the locals or even Sri Lanka as a place, though he provides some useful portraits with sensitivity. This cardinal volume is thus very sketchy and leaves room for a sequel.

Feeling a bit sick of the UK, particularly as an environment for raising children, Spowers decamps his whole family to Sri Lanka which has to be one of the bravest decisions possible given that the island has a terrorist problem, foreigners are not welcome with open arms unless they are tourists and finally, that Sri Lanka is not usually "on the map" and when it is - it's usually for the wrong reasons. Spowers has the reminiscences of his father and a colonial context to build on in his adventure and just when they have settled into Sri Lanka and think things could not be better, the tsunami strikes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Planes and cars, not tuk-tuks 26 Oct 2010
I bought this book because when I flipped through it in the bookshop, I found a mention of Kerala's forest gardens and the huge positive impact they have on life in an economically `underdeveloped' area of India.

It's the story of a British journalist who transports his young family to Sri Lanka in the hope of building a sustainable life away from the chaos he believes industrialized nations will suffer when climate change and peak oil take hold.

The book is divided into three sections. The first part is about Rory's quest to find the perfect place to live. It follows him and his family as they live in Wales and fly around the world trying to settle on their new home. At the same time Rory is trying to get a new environmental charity (The Web of Hope) up and running. Rory's main desire to leave the UK seems to stem from his belief that life here is over-regulated and people can't live the way they want to. That, and the weather.

The second part of the book is about their new life in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately for them, the family arrived in Sri Lanka shortly before the tsunami hit - and so life there didn't turn out quite as they expected. They did a lot of relief work whilst simultaneously trying to renovate a house and get their organic eco-village off the ground.

And the final section is a section of notes on sustainable living - health, transport, food, that kind of thing.

I was very disappointed by the book. For one thing, a lot of it isn't about life in Sri Lanka and you have to read through a lot of Rory's life before he gets there. The prologue talks about the tsunami - so the book starts mired in chaos and destruction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What he said 23 Oct 2010
I was just about to write a short review as I near the end of this terrible book, then read the review by O. F. Jones and realise that I couldn't possibly put it better myself. Self righteous tosh from start to finish, with glowing reviews from a few mates.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Part Travel, Part Enviromental Book 18 Sep 2012
What Spowers has written is very good, but it seems to sit with one leg in two camps. The first section of the book is the route that he took to end up with a large tea estate in Sri Lanka via Wales and other parts of the globe, and the struggles of the new culture and life in this larger than life country.

His narrative starts just after the Tsunami in 2004, and he describes in detail the challenges of owning a large parcel of land that had been neglected for a decade or so. Some of the people he befriends let him down, and lots of people are trying to take advantage, but he adages to find some one who can manages the incessant and conflicting demands from the residents and local populations.

The second section of the books is from the perspective of a strongly motivated environmental campaigner, and the philosophies and ideals that he aims to live by. All very interesting, but I would have rather had more on living in Sri Lanka.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good read 1 Mar 2011
By T. Webb
I bought this book as a birthday present for my brother who was going to be travelling to Sri Lanka. Having flicked open the first couple of pages and started reading, I wanted to finish it! So my brother had to wait!! Very good book, thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
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