Most people have never heard of ecovillages. These tiny rural communities are usually found in the countryside, not too far from town. There are many different types of ecovillage, but all of them are based on two things: community and earth preservation.
Ecovillages are built on a large piece of rural land. They are sometimes owned by a single person, but most are group owned. Ecovillages are closely knit communities where the residents live in cooperative harmony, share the work, and hold group meetings and celebrations on a regular basis. They may share in childcare, hold parties, and host pot luck meals and other events for the village.
Homes in an Ecovillage are built from sustainable materials and are designed to look natural, beautiful, and above all be highly energy-efficient. Many of these homes are powered by wind or solar power and water is piped from underground or gathered from rain. The houses might look somewhat traditional or they may be very experimental. Some are hay bale houses or cob houses. I have seen communities of yurts (large tents), dome houses, log homes, and even houses made from tires (much prettier than they sound). The homes are almost always handmade and all of the members of the community will get together to work on each person’s house, much like the barn-raisings of old.
Some ecovillages are farm-based and grow all of their own food. Community members take turns doing farm work, harvesting, plowing, or caring for the animals. These villages will often have one central kitchen and eating area and everyone will take their meals together. Having a community kitchen is helpful in making homes in the village smaller and less expensive because they do not need to be built with kitchens and dining rooms. Houses need only be about 2/3 their original size because they only require bedrooms and a large living area. All food grown on the farm is shared among the town’s members.
Ecovillages are great places to raise children. There are often large playgrounds and play areas and children are free to run and play safely because there are no streets and no strangers. Everyone knows each other and all take turns keeping an eye on the kids. Some villages have a public pool, pond, or creek where the children can swim together on hot summer days.
One wonderful idea that some ecovillages have adopted is a village bus. These busses often run on biodiesel and shuttle back and forth between the village and town. This saves the residents gas as well as having to take separate vehicles into town. Some busses will run every day while others will run only once or twice a week to pick up groceries and other supplies.
Ecovillages are a wonderful peaceful place to live and provide a safe environment for families to raise their children. Everyone knows each other and all share in the community spirit. If you are interested in starting or joining an Ecovillage, check online and do a little research. There are many such villages throughout the world. You may even be able to find one in your area.