Paul Wimbush with model of Lammas Ecovillage (UK)
The road up to Whole Village was empty and passed through fields and meadows, hailing an exit from the polluted populous of Toronto. “Most of the world is like this,” said Jonathan from the front, “we just see the city.” An interesting point to ponder as we turned onto the packed earth road leading to the village…
The low buildings came into view just above the rise, a large expansive bungalow with what were later confirmed as sky-lights, one in every room and hallway to allow natural light into the building, solar-south facing, reducing daytime electricity use. Large drums collect rainwater from the eaves, irrigating the little islands of greenery spotted around the parking area.
The welcoming atmosphere of the house, from Brenda (one of the founders and resident in the main house) and Natasha (first gardener of the village) greeted us with biscuits, lemonade and smiles; The kitchen, fit to feed the 17 inhabitants of the house, and the handful of others, is where community dining takes place, 5 nights a week, where the village consumption is 25% grown on the land, 75% from the localized area. There were around 30 people sat comfortably in the living room area, sprawled on couches and rocking chairs and Shane (property manager) and Brenda retold of the inception, conception, reality of Whole Village, where they came up against zoning laws, by-laws, building permits, and where they triumphed in the working community we saw around us. Introductions exchanged and why’s were asked (many an answer outlining a desire to learn of sustainability, and how one can create their own ecovillage), community living was spoken of (conflict resolution using the “Formal Consensus Process“), as well as the work-load on the farm, how it is shared, and how it is enforced, all culminating in a tour of the building proper and surrounding lands.
Ecovillage is not off the grid, that is something they are looking at (and in fact at the time of this writing they are in the process of installing a series of solar panels), at the moment all their energy comes from Bullfrog Power. The house, because of the square-footage (massive) is required by law to have an air purifier recycle the air – this is a huge machine that uses a lot of power and would be a barrier to energy self sufficiency on the farm (do alternatives for air purification for huge structures exist?). When building they did substitute a tar covered roof for one covered in a foam membrane, and are now looking at a green roof (the structure was planned with one in mind).
The village is filled with strawberry fields, an orchard filled with beautiful and growing fruit trees, green houses with tomatoes, asparagus, an apiary, maple forest, even a log seeded with mushroom spore in a canopied forest off a path.
The land is beautiful. The hills roll and invite you onto them. The people are friendly, they are sharing a common goal, as are we as The Zeitgeist Movement. Their differences pale when compared to their similarities, as do ours, as a species.
Some noted topics for further research: Engineered Wetlands, Masonry Heater, Clivus Multrum, Heifer International, Petroleum, products from Petroleum…
As we look at a resource based economy, a sustainable future, the Ecovillage movement is in its infancy. We are responsible for its growth.