Soil and souvlaki.

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Just back from a couple of weeks backpacking in the Greek Islands. Heavenly — of course!!

But there were a couple of things that really got me thinking. The first was plastic bags — far too many of them were blowing around on the islands and out to sea. Blah.

And the other was the soil. Bone-hard.

I don’t know how you’d get a spade into it if you didn’t soak it up with a few buckets of water first. You’d think it would be a dream to grow fruit and veg in a place where the sun shines every day (believe me, a contrast to here!!) and for us it was a real treat to eat so many fresh peaches and apricots and cherries. But not a lot is grown on the islands, and the few hardy souls that have a kitchen garden growing are working hard with it. Water is precious in the towns and villages as it is, but when you head out just a bit further you realize just how hard people are working on their little patches. Deep wells, buckets on ropes, plastic jerry cans and donkeys. Up and down those steep slopes, day after day year after year.

But still. You can’t help thinking what a difference some organic material would make in the soil. A decent layer of mulch. Manure.

But when you look around you realize there’s not much mulch to be had. The little strawlike stuff there is goes to the donkeys, the rest is dry as dust. And I’m sure the little manure from goats and donkeys is put to good use.

Meanwhile down at the beach and in the village the streets are full of tavernas and cafes, plate after plate of marvellous sallads, souvlakis and roast chickens carried in and out of the kitchens. Nerd that I am I tried hard to crane my neck behind the scenes and into the kitchens, try to see what they were doing with all the leftovers. And time and time again I saw them land in the bin. One big bin. Paper, cans, glass and all the good food bits from the kitchen. I’d like to think some of it was kept aside for the donkeys and goats but I’m not so sure. Big bins of rubbish to be carried away at the end of the day, a big load on small islands with little infrastructure.

It felt so hopeless.

Two big problems. One easy solution. How to connect the dots?

I was a wimp. I didn’t take up the discussion with anyone. How could you? But it was tough to see what a difference Bokashi could make in this situation and not be able to do anything.

The change has to come from within in some way. But first they have to find out about it. I don’t think there’s any big Bokashi/EM movement anywhere in Greece yet. But I’m putting my hopes on Australians! Bokashi is taking off nicely in Australia, and in Australia you have a huge Greek population. (Melbourne used to be the third biggest Greek city in the world population-wise!). So let’s say one day some guys from Australia go “home” to visit their relations and bring with them some Bokashi. Talk it through, get something started. Show the difference. Anchor the concept a bit. Make sure there’s a supply line for EM and Bokashi bran.

It has to start somewhere. And it’s just too sad to see such an opportunity wasting. It would be great to see some of those little kitchen gardens getting a better chance. And it would be a real relief to see the leftovers from tavernas and cafes channelled back into the gardens of their neighbours.

Please someone — just do it!!

ps One thing I have to say was quite pragmatic…tomatoes and peaches growing around church walls!

pps This thing with flying. We went by air to Athens and took boats from there. I’m not proud about the flying bit, we try to travel by train wherever possible, or just skip it. But this trip we decided to do anyhow. And enjoy it to the utmost!

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5 thoughts on “Soil and souvlaki.”

  1. Some lovely pictures to put me in the mood for my two weeks island hopping later this year. Were some of the pictures taken in Folegandros? some of the locations looked very familiar.

    1. Well spotted! We were on Folegandros, Naxos and Koufonissi, all just wonderful. The donkey pics are from Folegandros, and I think one of two of the taverna ones too. Hope you have a great trip! When are you heading off?

  2. We go in September and our itinerary in Paros, Amorgos, Koufonissi, Ios and Anti -Paros. We have been to Folegandros several times and really like it there but can’t fit it in this time.

  3. Sounds heavenly!! Let’s just hope that on one of your journeys back in the future you can spot some change on the recycling front. Keep us posted! /Jenny

  4. Recycling in Greece sounds difficult to me, I’ve never seen much evidence of it! By chance I have just retired from a career in refuse collection and recycling so I will make sure that I keep in touch with your blog!

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