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A YEAR IN GREEN TEA AND TUK-TUKS: My unlikely adventure creating an eco farm in Sri Lanka Paperback – 5 Mar 2007
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"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
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. See all Product description
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to become a resident so nothing about that. Not really helpful about the actual process of buying a tea plantation for anyone else in uk who might want to do the same. Abit contrived and makes it look real easy to do but in reality not so...rory is better about writing on environmental stuff not the actual story which was poor and shallow. No real idea of the place as descriptions were muddled and distracted with crap about tea estates worker fights. No enthusiasm just a bland book.
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. And the organic farm that becomes an eco-village is not the star of the book (Rory is) and so we learn precious little about it, or forest gardens in general. The mention of forest gardens in Kerala that I spotted is at the end of the book, and it's just about the only one.
And for a man who dislikes over-regulation, Rory has a lot to say about the trials of life in Sri Lanka. There's the chaotic traffic system and resulting pollution that means he has to buy an air-conditioned car to keep his kids safe. There's the legal system that doesn't protect victims and is slow and overly bureaucratic. And there's the food distribution system that means frozen chickens are allowed to defrost in the sun, prawns are harvested from polluted waters and it's impossible to buy organic vegetables or be sure that your food is safe.
For anyone trying to reduce their carbon footprint, Rory's globetrotting will be a constant annoyance throughout the book. The inconsistencies between his environmental stance and his real-world actions are normal - we could all do better - but his hopeful musings that a lifetime of tree-planting has offset his flights is just wishful thinking.
The upshot of all this is that if you like travel books, and stories of the trials and tribulations of starting life in another country, then you may enjoy this one. If you're looking for an inspiring yarn about organic farms, forest gardens and eco-villages, then look elsewhere.
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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