I operate a 42 acre organic coconut / teak estate in the Coconut Triangle of Sri Lanka. This is my late wife Jeanne's ancestral property and we have been living on it since 1999. Since we came here we have been working towards turning a bi-culture plantation in to a model of restorative bio-diversity to which end we have spent the last 14 years developing infrastructure and restoring soil fertility through remineralization. We use renewable energy in the form of Solar, Wind and Bio-gas generation and it is our aim to eventually get off the National Electricity grid.
We practice regenerative agriculture and are replanting our teak wood lot with indigenous forest trees designed to restore bio-diversity and make the estate a model for easy emulation. We hope to ensure financial viability by producing the highest value added Extra extra Virgin coconut oil from by cold pressing the coconut in a hydraulic press operated by renewable energy sources.
At the same time we are inspired by Marcin Jakubowski's Open Source Ecology and will be developing his Global Village Construction kit in a Sri Lankan context.
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Help around the house
Help with Computers/ Internet
We are developing a model for sustainable living through mindful practise.
Update 16 Jun 2021
So we lost Jeanne in December 2019, and then the pandemic hit. The estate needs a lot of tlc, systems restored and unfortunately the Golden Spiral has not survived. First however we have to set about getting the farm on a sound footing again, so we have plans for a replanting program for coconut and vegetables. The analog forest needs some landscaping and planting as well. I also want to scan Jeanne's photographs and create an archive of her work.
Update 18 Nov 2019
We have been offline for awhile because Jeanne has not been doing too well, physically. I am looking for volunteers who would be interested in rehabilitating the Golden Spiral, which involves a lot of weeding, replanting and laying out. Our analog forest also needs some tlc, but at the moment the Spiral is my prerogative. I want to be clear, at the moment Jeanne and taking care of her is our focus. Whoever applies to volunteer with us at this time must have experience looking after older people.
Update 07 Jan 2019
Much of the past year has been spent extracting the timber and planting the forest. We lost much of our giant bamboo waters edge plantings but the Kumbuk trees held. The pandanus held too. We expect to finish our extraction by the end of this month and as such will slowly begin to replant and revive our village garden, pepper plantation and the Golden Spiral. We need to replant pasture grass, fertilize the coconut trees with green manure, which we also have to make, there's weeding, planting, fence repairs, and most importantly landscaping, planning, and laying out the replanting of the forest. It will be a slow wind up because more planning needs to be done, but overall we are interested in hearing from workawayers from February on.
Update 13 Feb 2018
After months of waiting we finally received clearance to carry on with the teak harvest at the end of January. We have started the rest of the extraction. While the teak is being extracted there is only limited work on the farm such as composting, weeding, replanting, fence repair, collecting coconuts etc. As such for the time being we have kinda suspended our volunteer program until there is more work to do on the riverine restoration. If someone is very keen to volunteer with us we might be amenable but for now we are mainly honoring prior commitments.
Update 25 Sep 2017
Well we've just replanted the river bank and the spaces where the teak has been harvested. We have started our nursery with about 400 plants and planted in excess of 1800. Volunteers from Workaway have been indispensable in this effort, putting their backs in and working hard to get the planting done before the rains took hold. Thanks to all who have volunteered over the last few months. Now we await inspection by the Irrigation Department (under whose purview the rivers come) of our replanting before we can proceed.
Update 24 Apr 2017
So we have harvested the first lot of teak and are sourcing plants to begin replanting the riverbank. Simultaneously we begin the nursery for the tertiary planting in a few years.
Update 9 Dec 2016
The harvesting of the teak trees is in hand in preparation for the riverine forest restoration. This is our focus at the moment. We've recently had some bad experiences with people who did not stay the time they agreed to and used us merely as a cheap holiday location, not pulling their weight and making it uncomfortable for us. From our feedback you will see that this is our home and we treat Workawayers as friends. Please only apply if you are willing to keep your commitment.
Update 6 Oct, 2015
The preliminary work on the riverine forest is in hand at the moment. The next step will be to do the design. As of this month we are only accepting Workawayers for a minimum of two (2) weeks as that seems to be the minimum time to accomplish a specific task on farm or in the spiral.
Update 20 June, 2015.
Jeanne tells me we have had volunteers from 27 countries. I try to keep up to date with feedback but must confess there are a few that need updating at the moment. We must thank Xavi and Alba who introduced us to Workaway as we really do enjoy welcoming the world at our doorstep. The experience has made our life quite exotic: sampling a variety of cuisine we would have had to travel the world to experience.
The spiral is now in its third season of growth. After it was laid we went through seven months of drought and we were able to see which plants lasted. Imagine our surprise when we found that although the area around the spiral went brown, the spiral itself mostly remained green. It is our delight that the energy of the spiral will mingle with the good people we meet.
The soft drink factory apparently had their wells dry up during the drought, and the villagers have found that the effects of the drought were exacerbated by the factory taking upwards of 294'000 litres of water per day. Rain water harvesting is something that has become a necessity to us and will be the subject of the third stage of infrastructure.
For now we need to concentrate on restoring and redeveloping the riverine forest that abuts the Maha Oya on the Western boundary of our property. The flood in December 2014 flooded out our neighbours' homes and reached more than 4' higher than our property gate. Fortunately our home is on high ground and so it was not affected but the main road and our land along the river was under water. When these floods were followed by seven months of drought it became clear that while Dabur (the soft drink manufacturer) might have compromised our survival, rain water harvesting can effectively mitigate their worst effects.
We have already started planting an analog forest among the teak trees as they are harvested, but this has not been on our river land which is an 8 acre plot consisting of mainly mature teak and coconut. Analog Forestry entails creating a 'formula' based on criteria of an extant natural forest close to the land to be restored and in as similar a terrain as possible. The target land is then evaluated and its formula described. The deficiency between the natural forest and the land to be restored is then addressed in the design of the analog forest restoration, with a data collection element for future study. We need help to make some preliminary investigations and evaluations that will provide the source data for the design. This includes a tree map, a drainage map, an evaluation of general terrain characteristics, the erosion of the river banks etc.
So while the normal spiral and general farm work is also available we are looking for someone interested in helping to prepare to an application for approval as a Special Project under the Central Environmental Authority for Riverine Forest Restoration using Analog Forestry. This would be a 3-month assignment and would include preparing data for and
assisting the creator of Analog Forestry in creating the design.
Update 20 January, 2014.
Xavi, Alba, Marcin, Monika, Ravi, Rev. Rahula Thero, Govinda, Chandra, Yaso, Rohini, Kalyani, Lalani, Baby Nona, Srimathi, Pemawathi, Kavita, Samira, Dumindu worked and finished the first planting of the spiral. Xavi did a wonderful job plotting the spiral.
Now we are tending to it, continuing with the planting grooming and landscaping the spiral and the area surrounding. We still need help doing these things.
We also need help setting up a website to promote the struggle against corporatization of public sovereign resources.
Two years ago the land adjoining our land which had been sold by Jeanne's sister was purchased by a large Indian fruit drink manufacturer with Sri Lankan government approval and active support to exploit deep groundwater resources and export some 3.36 million litres of fruit based beverages to South India every month. This approval was given without any assessment of available groundwater resources and we are currently in litigation about this.
To counter this loss of Pranic energy and based on a suggestion of a Spanish couple Xavi Sort and Alba Muniz Bravo we are building a 60m Golden spiral of plants to channel a portion of our daily quota of cosmic energy back in to the ground and surrounding area. With the Court case coming up on December 2, 2013 we hope to build this spiral of Life during the month of November 2013 to focus Global attention on this de facto corporate privatisation and sequestration of water resources.
The work entails the pegging out of the spiral, which is ongoing, and the planting of some 4000 plants that will make up the 8 arms of the spiral.
Dormitory type accommodation for four (4) to (6) people.
Travelers with their own tents and interested in camping may also be accommodated in suitable areas on the 42 acres.
Kotadeniyawa is an hour North East of the capital, Colombo and is a few hours away from the UN Heritage Sites of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa. Trincomalee on the East Coast is about four (4) hours by car and the Hill Capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy with its famous Temple of the Tooth is two hours away. We are easily reached by public transport - buses on the road that runs through our property and a main line rail access is some 8 km away at Mirigama. We are 28 km from the beach resort of Negombo.
It will be useful for Workawayers to carry Medical Insurance although Medical Care is not as expensive in Sri Lanka as it is elsewhere.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
five (5) hours a day, five (5) days a week