We are ready for take-off!
Founding Rebels; WELCOME!
The exciting day has finally arrived, that we are starting the first tangible project of The Green Rebel, and we are able to do so because of YOU, the Founding Rebels! This is the very first 'blog' post of a series that is only intended for Founding Rebels, to give you an insight behind the screens; what is going on, a lot more pictures than what we will share on Social Media, our (many) challenges that we will face in the journey, how we are going to try to solve them and make the land ready for you to come and have a look and get your hands in the soil.
In the past 2 weeks I have moved out of Liverpool and have driven via The Netherlands to Spain, together with my dad (Andre) and girlfriend (Coralie) in Moose and the van of my dad. 2 full days of driving was 'enough' and we arrived late in the dark in the Catalan area of 'Terra Alta'. Arriving in the area where 2 months ago I was driving around by myself in Moose to look for the ideal land felt very strange, but mostly exciting and my heart rate went sky high. Unfortunately I could not show it yet to my dad and Coralie, they had to wait until sunrise. We were welcomed by Amanda in Benifallet, a small village with 700 residents that lays right next to the river Ebre. Amanda is hosting us for a couple of months in her apartment, so that we have some time (and some basic comfort necessities like a toilet, shower and wifi) to restore the small house that is on the land to make it ready to live in. On top of the village and with very narrow streets, it took us quite some time to find our way through to the village. Unfortunately the van of my dad was too big to get to the front door, and even Moose had to be driven backwards through curvy and narrow streets. I felt very sorry for all the neighbors, who at 22:00 all arrived on their small balconies to see what this camouflaged Dutch car came to do, in a place where nothing happens. Luckily we received some help in getting out of the streets safely, but it did require Moose to work hard, after 1.700 kilometers. A nice cherry on the cake.
The morning after I could not wait to show the land to my dad and Coralie, who only know it from pictures and some small video's I took in my 3 visits to the land when I was here. With a blue sky crossing the river and driving through the mountains and the village that we can now call home, the local radio station was playing 2 songs that we love, and 1 of them is a remix of a French song that I used to dance on when I was 6, on a French camping. Because of a (well hidden;)) video our entire family recalls me dancing in a self-made skirt of 'paper mache' on the stage in front of the entire camping. It gave me goosebumps, a small tear and we were dancing and singing all 3 while approaching the land with the sun in our faces.
For over 3 hours we have been walking around, amazed of the beauty, the silence, the size, and the horrible condition of the soil. While we were eating some almonds from the almond trees, I called my mum and sister so they could join the tour from their office back in the Netherlands. Such a special feeling to finally share the land with my loved ones, where we hope to spend a lot of time on together.
Luckily my dad and Coralie saw why I fell in love with the land, at the foot of a mountain range with incredible views of trees, mountains, already with a diversity of trees; almonds, olives, vigs and maybe even cherry, which we are not sure yet. Coralie was already looking for the best place for her yoga studio with the best views, but was also competing with my dad who is already dreaming of his own bungalow spot or place where he can stay with my mum in their campervan, as our first WWOOFers;) (WWOOF is a global volunteering platform on organic farms). During these 3 (!!) hours of walking around, there was no shortage of beautiful spots and I was actually amazed with the size myself. The very first visit was with the selling agent and we walked around within 10-15 minutes to have a quick impression. Now that we could roam around freely we went to (almost) all corners of the land and we could not believe the size ourselves. Where are we going to start? How are we going to transform this desert-like soil into something fertile? A lot of questions and it was a bit overwhelming in the beginning, but the pure and serene beauty quickly took over with a deep sense of gratitude that we are privileged to live on a place like this, that has infinite possibilities to connect with nature & people to make this world a better place.
Today we have been to the notary to sign all the paperwork to fully own the land, and it is all official. Let's get the party started!! Now it is real, and no one can take the land away from us anymore. No one will be able to spray pesticides or plough the land anymore, we can fully
decide how to improve the land. There is a lot of work to do before we can actually live on the land and before it is a farm full of life. Poc-a-poc, as the Catalans say take it step by step. For now there is a lot to arrange with regards to administration, taxes, registration etc. etc. We will also need to let a local craftsman come to have a look at the house to see how he can restore it in the most natural way so that it remains in the original and local style as much as possible.
The entire process around the notary was quite funny and different than how it would happen in the Netherlands. In the morning I would pick up the cheque of the full amount at the Spanish bank, and that cheque I would bring to the notary for the seller. Yesterday I got a call from my agent, to inform me of the mobility restrictions that would not allow us to travel outside of the municipality from Friday morning 06:00 until Monday morning 06:00. The notary is in a city 40 minutes drive away.. Luckily we got an official paper that stated we could drive to Tortosa only for the notary visit. But the cheque at the bank we had to arrange immediately, and I had only 45 minutes left before the bank would close. When getting the cheque, I was surprised with a very high amount of commission for the bank to receive the international transfer and to hand out the cheque, 1% of the total amount. This got me completely by surprise, but they promised me that in 2 weeks they could refund most of it. They just could not tell me how much or when. Vale, absorb and push them as much as I can in the coming weeks, but have to accept that unforeseen costs are part of the process. There will be more of these kind of surprises, I'm sure.
(Drying seeds after they got humid in the transportation from The Netherlands, in the balcony of our apartment in Benifallet)
While entering Tortosa, police was indeed controlling who was entering and leaving the city but we could pass easily without being checked. My dad was especially relieved about this as his entire van was still loaded with all our stuff that we are planning to leave on the land-house as storage, and we did not want to get a full check of the load, and missing our appointment. At the notary everything went quite smooth and the notary himself spoke perfect English. This was a big relieve for me, because the seller, the selling agent and the notary assistant didn't speak any English and my Spanish isn't sufficient at all yet. There are enough small details in the contract/deed that are a bit strange and very different than we are used to, like difference in size between the cadaster and official register, difference in right for use and owning the land, etc. etc. With most questions the notary could help us, but there are still enough questions unanswered.
The seller asked me what we were going to do with the 'finca' (farm/land), enjoy or work on it. When I stated we want to work, cultivate, he said we are crazy. 'You won't make any money with this; olives & almonds are too cheap, you'll need too many pesticides for tomatoes, etc. etc.' This shows how difficult it is to simply grow olives & almonds and to be profitable on a 'small' scale. Just crazy and unacceptable. We can not wait to try and show that it can be done differently.
(Soil on the land, dry & without life)
The coming weeks and months are all about getting settled in and started, and getting a proper plan. Enough to keep you posted on, but also enough to keep our crowdfunding open for. Even though we have raised over EUR 13.000, 65% of the target, there is still a lot of money needed in order to get the land ready to kickstart the project. To host volunteers to give the project a real boost, and to get to a full & holistic design of how we are going to manage & maintain (all) the water on the land, where to get our energy from (solar, wind), where we are going to plant what, etc. etc.
Initially I was envisioning to get a consultant/expert in to make this design with us, but we are now looking at options to do this in a way where we can share this information and knowledge with local and international likeminded Rebels, who want to know more about Agroforestry, Permaculture and Sustainable Living. All while combining with some yoga & meditation classes, exploring the beautiful nature of Terra Alta, hiking the 'Via Verde' and swimming in the beautiful small 'cala's', small hidden beaches. If you are interested in a 'conscious-living' trip like this, combined with workshops and training about agroforestry, please do reach out to me and you can help shaping the program.
I could go on an on for a long time, but this is enough for now. We are extremely excited, and will open a bottle of champagne on the land to celebrate and inaugurate. Thank you once again for your support and to have you part of this journey to wake up and disrupt the food industries at the roots. We have a long way to go, but step 1 we have already accomplished together!
Please don't forget to share the story of The Green Rebel with your family & friends who care about our planet, with pride as a Founding Rebel!
Carlo, Coralie & Andre
The Green Rebel