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In times of crisis, we all suffer; only some suffer more because others have much more in the first place. To say my island Cyprus has suffered recently is an understatement.  The rich and corrupt ones who always seem to take care of their interests, the very same people who made this crisis, bankers and politicians combined,  cannot save us because they are the root of the problem.

Generally many of us have lost faith in organized polytricks, mainly because it’s become legitimate robbery.  I heard a story about a man last week who stole two haloumia. He only stole them to feed his family. Two haloumia is less than 10  euros to buy and that citizen will be charged for a so-called ‘crime’ he was forced to commit due to the economic crisis. And yet politicians and bankers can take away millions from people’s saving’s accounts overnight and not one of them will ever get locked up for doing it. Fact is they will carry on getting paid over 5 grand a month as MP’s and still be able to keep their regular day jobs as lawyers, doctors, business men and the like…

So having lost faith in organized politricks I have to ask myself what’s the alternative? Well simply put I feel we should all make Cyprus grow again together. A very good friend of mine, Steffen Franz, started his own music distribution company from nothing. Independent Distribution Collective in San Francisco, USA currently represents over 600 artists and labels in close to 10,000  retail outlets. It does seem strange to some of us  that people are still physically buying  music releases and I think one reason it has worked for IDC is this  basic philosophy –  ‘Plant a seed and watch it grow’.

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Much of humanity has lost that kind of DiY organic approach to life. I had this conversation with a cyber friend on Facebook, right at the height of the recent crisis in Cyprus. We had been bombarded day and night with all kinds of messages, bits of information, fake promises, false pretences and suddenly this friend online called Melo Felo told me to take time out and think about the valuelessness-the worthlessness attached to this thing called money. Melo aside from reiterating my belief in going natural and growing food to live off finished with a wise recommendation….”there is only one thing to do… learn…teach…practice…and survive”…

We have been swallowed up in an endless materialistic ‘rat-race’ and at some point we have to jump off the hamster wheel and think outside the box.  Cyprus used to be so different. It was like a fertile forest. Remember we used to grow and export potatoes, citrus fruits, olives and olive oil. I used to see double-decker buses going round central London with a huge advert proclaiming “Cypressa Accept Nothing Lesser” and it used to make me feel proud of my island to see that. “Cypressa” by the way still exists as a company in Britain, click here

We forgot all that because for the last few decades we have been obsessed with everything materialistic and non-Cypriot.  We have tried our hardest to be everything we are not. To be the most perfect Europeans, the loudest ‘Greeks’, the banking centre of the universe, and the biggest spenders.

That denial of who we are and the potential for who we could be is pivotal. People were always negative towards anything Cypriot, I know this from first-hand experience having made music for the last few decades and been based here. I can get airplay in 40 countries around the world and if I am lucky a handful of people will play me a couple of times on radio in Cyprus. Don’t get me wrong this is not a “me thing”  I am just using myself as an example of how messed up things are. I remember thinking of a title for my second CD release in 1997.  I wanted to call it ‘Made in Cyprus”. I had this conversation at that time with a newspaper editor who told me simply ‘ are you sure you want to call it that?’. He felt this way because Cyprus was such a negative brand, a land where bombs were going off and where the then President, Glafkos Clerides, saddened by the corruption around him in society proclaimed we were like a ‘Banana Republic’.

Of course nowadays every one waves their Cypriot flags, claims to love Cyprus and insists on buying only Cypriot produce. It’s all good I guess but this new found sense of Cypriotness seaped in the crisis is at the same time very claustrophobic and narrow-minded. It’s also becoming very top down again with the politicians vainly trying their best to still lead the way. These vampires brought us into this mess will claim whatever they want about who is to blame, who is the savior and who are the sell outs and traitors. And I say halali tous oullous, let them have it, they can carry on leading their lost tribes of sheep into oblivion.

The alternative is to grow together, plant some seeds, watch things grow and share the fruits of our labours.  People we have to start doing it for ourselves – ‘plant a seed and watch it grow’.

So here is the idea. Everyone around the world now knows where Cyprus is due to the failings of politicians, the EU and the banking system. The crisis, who is to blame is not my concern because a million experts will tell you a million different things. The real point is how to move forward. The answer is simple. We should all start living more off the land which we have been blessed with  from the times of Aphrodite to live on. Our predecessors did it so why can’t we. If each person planted 10 more olive trees, 10 more lemon trees, 10 more fig trees, this island would be a better place for all of  us. Many people have land and this could be used to grow our own produce organically. In the process we will all get back to the real world, to the physical aspect of nature and move away from our overtly materialistic life styles.

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I started in my garden. This week I planted a grape-vine from Marathassa, which produces an aromatic dark black grape; a mango tree, which I hope will give fruit someday as I love mangoes; and an avocado – I know this one is a long shot as these fruits need a more tropical climate but they have such a nice green leaves. I also plan to plant at least 100 more olive trees in the village of Lythrodontas. We have been growing our own olives in the village for many decades. Each year this produces enough olive oil for us to never have to buy it. Now the idea is to plant more trees and produce more oil that can be sold or exchanged.

Finally, I would like to invite people from around the world to be a part of this dream to let Cyprus grow naturally from the roots upwards. You can contribute directly to the planting of more trees by sponsoring a tree. Each tree will be photographed and will have your name on it.  The money you choose to give will go towards the cost of each tree, planting soil, fertilizer and water throughout the year.

In the future we will share the fruits of our labours by providing a small gift of our appreciation for your contribution with a choice of the wide range of products we will be producing, including freshly pressed olive oil, citrus fruits and dry figs. You will also be welcome any time in the village to savour our friendly hospitality and pick fresh in season produce for free.

For more details post email to moretreescyprus@gmail.com

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