Cycling alternatives!!! So, what is this all about?? A friend of mine, returning from an integration week in Germany with other young people working in the Global Education Network (GLEN), suggested that there is something that I would like to do this summer. He proposed to check out and register for the cycling tour related to my agricultural activities, where I can combine the passion for biking and farming: Perma-cool-tour! When I heard about this initiative I said to myself: “That’s it! I have wanted to do this for so long and now I finally get the chance!” This dream to cycle through Europe was a true challenge for me. It was about cycling and alternative ways of living, it was about sharing knowledge and experiences with others. And throughout the trip, I met wonderful people from all over Europe, a very diverse and multicultural group of 18 people coming from 9 different countries. We all gathered in Wroclaw from where we started our journey on bikes towards our destination: Valec, Czech Republic. The organizers from Cycling Alternatives planned to reach the village after 2 weeks of cycling, spending the days on different activities while cycling around 60 km/day - in total we traveled around 550km!
At this point, it’s the 3rd day out of Poland and the 7th day of cycling. The group is getting more connected and familial. We feel great with all this experience of cycling in the storm and heavy rain all day, while smiling and making jokes, until we arrive finally to a community garden called ZaZemi, in Turnov. It is a big, beautiful garden created collectively by some locals, where they grow seasonal veggies and raise some sheep. The place is amazing; we enjoy sunshine while having the workshop about vermicompost. This is an ingenious way of preparing compost with Californian worms. Easy to do, this DIY invention is a useful method to recycle the by-products from your kitchen and prepare a very fruitful fertilizer for plants and gardens. To set it up, you need three plastic buckets put one on top of each other, and a screw to make holes in the lids, so that the worms can move around while digesting the food (waste). The last bucket will collect “worm tea”, which is also used for fertilizing. But, of course, the worms need to be fed once a week in order to work. The optimal temperature for the digestion is 5-25ºC, and it works without spreading any smell in the apartment.
Those amazing people in Turnov prepared for us a nice pack of products from their garden and we then headed further to our next destination. We ended up in the “Liběchov – Community Všechnodobředopadne” (which translates as: “everything is going to end up well”). Just 40 km from Prague, we found this alternative community living very happily and simplistically, working together and building gardens from scratch and managing the land themselves. Our group helped them build the fence around the homegarden to protect it from animals, in turn we had an awesome dinner and time with the hosts, watching documentaries related to ecology, agroecology and sharing the knowledge from what we encountered around the globe. Spending time with people who share the same aspirations and values, visiting places full of energy and surrounded by nature, in a happy atmosphere all made this an unforgettable experience.
What made this experience unforgettable, was the atmosphere we created in the group and that people coming from different background and countries were able to share the same values. Few of those we visited had studied agriculture, but I can tell that I was impressed by their soil, climate change and environment knowledge. All together, I have learnt many interesting things about eatable forest products, about how to make a vermicompost, how to build a green roof, and how to construct a bee house inspired by Iraqi architecture. In each of these farms, we participated and helped devise multiple initiatives related to the theme of our tour, permaculture. Cycling through Poland and Czech Republic as a big group of people didn’t pass unnoticed and people were curious to talk to us and invite us over to visit. The farmers were wonderful and happy to meet us - a group of people eager to learn from their experiences. They are all very inspirational people; full of energy and less concerned about the day-to-day problems in our fast-moving industrialized world.
To learn more about this initiative, “Czech” out these websites: