Mike Lee, 48
from United Kingdom
Email: click here
Present Country: France
Join Date: September 12, 2011
Last Updated: May 1, 2018
Last Signed In: July 16, 2018
I am returning to Europe and I would love to hook-up with people.
I have really enjoyed diverse company my whole life, including the best; the company of travellers!
No bias shown here of course!
Looking forward to meeting you!
Sunny (I hope!) Europe :-)
Hi, Update 2018.
In my picture, you can see I'm holding a gardening tool called a 'mattock'. This versatile tool is the best pal of all leathery-faced campesinos :-)
It really helps to 'get down and dirty' out in the garden!
It helped me to smash up the earth to create the 'hugelkultur' I'm standing adjacent to: This has become one of my favourite ways to create a trouble-free raised bed in a garden; it is so versatile and enduring, and it looks after itself if you make it right and that's not so difficult to do.
They can be very beautiful when in full bloom and maturity, with a diversity of plants and they can provide lots of food and satisfaction.
This one is freshly made so it only shows a covering of freshly mown grass. It is in a small garden near to Tabio, Colombia: About 2600 metres above sea level with a very strong tropical sun, under which grow robust Highland Tropical Plants like the Rocoto chilli peppers; the 'papayuelas'; the 'pepino de relleno'; papas criollas!
These are strong plants, which survive a bit of frost and chilly nights and they are also delicious food.
The Rocoto chilli in this garden was mature and huge and scrambled high into the trees - it produces dozens of very hot chillis the size and shape of the 'sweet' peppers you find in the stores.
I made salsa from it - delicious; and I have saved the seeds.
There are beautiful agroforestry trees similar to Euro or American lowland species like the oaks and alders and acacias. They can grow big rapidly.
I suppose to sum up I could say that I have lots of experience getting stuck into global volunteer work through helpx and working with Non Governmental organisations. It's been a pleasure and a blessing actually and I also profit from my membership of the 'Educational Concerns for Hunger Organisation' or ECHO.
You can also register and create a profile page there for free and invite any interested friends to do so.
It's ostensibly a Christian-run site for 'missionaries' working on many continents but it does not exclude folk of any faith as far as I am aware.
They run conferences and permaculture courses and workshops and provide free educational resources and information and also free seeds if you get the verve on in creating your own project :)
For example I volunteered with Gami Seva Sevana in Sri Lanka – which is a local NGO working to save the traditional farming practices and community living traditions of rural communities. I learned about small-scale animal husbandry and how to create biogas from cow manure! We used it to cook our heritage rice in the communal kitchen; delicious.
A year or so later I met Eric Hanquinet at a Wellness Centre on Negros Island in the Philippine Islands. Eric is a co-founder and manages the plant collections at a privately run Ethnobotanical gardens near to Dumaguete city. He invited me to spend some time at the gardens and to do some research there. With Eric’s help I learned a lot about tropical trees and plants; ethnobotany and agroforestry practices such as the use of effective micro-organisms and SALT, (Sloping Agricultural Land Technology), which is basically a form of terracing to rehabilitate degraded sloping land. I was able to use the garden as a base and network widely with many other people and a local government research centre. Inspiring!
Here is an article by Eric about some of his ideas as regards ‘sustainability’ - www.bgci.org/resources/article/0630/
Since then I have initiated and participated in Agroforestry projects in Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia.
Such experiences really enrich and inform my life and open my eyes to the realities of our world: A real battle between the forces of dark and light! My website makes an attempt to talk about this and with society being so complex and interconnected it tends to meander into many things. But for those who are interested I have tried to focus on issues of sustainable living and especially 'the biggy', agriculture; the backbone of any civilised nation state.
I am interested in lots of things: I love good food of course and I love to cook. I love the outdoors & gardening. I love farming & I love working with animals - I have sheared and shepherded sheep and milked goats and cows. I have mucked out for pigs and horses and my riding skills are definitely wanting but I can ride, but it is not a forte!
I have a go at healing with herbs & natural energies.
To summarise, I hold the conviction that, "All of the world's problems can be solved in a garden!"
... in embracing a synthetic and artificial world, we become what we embrace and this is causing us no end of headaches.
Some of my poetry (below) reflects on this unnatural predicament, which is one of the many unique aspects of our human experience.
Forestgardeners.weebly.com is my website
My University education was studying the Russian and French languages and culture and a hefty amount of translation studies.
I still work as a translator (Russian/French/Spanish) and I like to take on projects that interest me.
I later trained as a secondary school teacher in the UK, working in a couple of schools teaching French to teenagers, but I did not pursue it as a career, but I have also worked in teaching English to adults in Russia, which presents different challenges!
My working life has often been international.
Here is one of my poems: “Wild...”
Born to be Wild, we are of the Earth, Yet I well understand how we've given birth, To a system of death, within it life dies, But we give it life, as we give it our lives. What happened to peace, to love for our brother, To love for an Earth we should see as our Mother? When we've distanced ourselves from the soil and the trees, Do we hear the life in the birds and the bees? When we give life to objects, not even alive, Polluters, destroyers, the machines that we drive; The machines that we cherish; the machines in our lives. Or do they drive us - can you not see, That without them our lives would be truly free? We're born into freedom, why make ourselves slaves, To a futile Hell, to help dig our own graves? When we poison our waters, our air and our lands, Then we poison ourselves, and from our own hands! I'd rather see trees, as my living friends, Than drive long roads, in a Mercedes Benz! Yea I know in my heart it's the ignorant few, Who still feel we're “right” to pollute as we do: This Spirit of Power, of Industrial Greed, Of Military Might, and Media Need, In abiding by these we imprison our souls, Great folly and madness is out of control, But there's plenty I know, who are not so bent, On senseless destruction and whose time is spent, In the knowledge that quiet, resides at our door, At Peace with our Mother, turning once more, Her turns are our Soul, our Spirit, our Home... As no slave to man, no slave to his dock, To his senseless laws, or his ticking clock, For my law is Nature, and She says to me, That I have Her Spirit and She makes me Free.
This is a North American Indian poem I really like, written by an anonymous author...
There was a time, when I saw the world Coyote lives in. I had walked up, with a friend – once upon a time, behind the rocks; the big ones that rise up, mossy-greened, and cradle the forest-shadowed ponds that the ducks and moose love, to seek the slight-sloping, grassy meadow hidden behind them. We half-lay for hours in the tall emerald grass among the ancient trees that towered over the drifting textures of the land. While our elbows supported us we talked of plants, and stones, and the wisdom of moss. Slowly we began, as humans sometimes do, to slip into the wildness of the world. Our language began to slow down, pause and falter. Into silence we drifted and for some reason that only our souls understood that day we flowed with it, not talking. Colours became more vivid and the air began to sparkle. Our breathing and the sounds of the forest took on a luminous quality. And into this silence Coyote ambled, following a game trail that flowed, brown runnel, near our feet. Her tongue lolled out the side of her mouth, and she was laughing that crazy laugh Coyote has, while her eyes spun as she watched the dancing bones that lie under the fabric of the world. Crazy, gambolling Coyote. Third force in Universe. I said under my breath, “Turn your head to the right.” And my friend sat up and said, “What?” And in so doing, lost her chance to see. I, still watching, saw Coyote’s eyes shift out of that crazy, spinning universe and shocked, no, betrayed, by the secrecy of our immersion she flipped straight over and ran, tail between her legs, only some strange kind of dog, up the trail. What I glimpsed through Coyote’s eyes lodged in a part of my brain I did not know I had. I can reach out and touch it sometimes. My eyes begin to spin, and I feel a bit dizzy, and I can see dancing bones under the fabric of the world. I still do not know what the world that Coyote lives in does when no one is watching but I do know it is ancient, far beyond the species lifetime of humans and that next to it our world is only a chip of wood floating on the ocean.