Ecovillage or Urban Agrihood

Ecovillage or Urban Agrihood

Many types of intentional community help with ecological preservation based on the lower carbon footprint that results from shared resources. In addition, many add energy-saving features and avoid fossil fuels. As a step beyond those laudable efforts, the ecovillages we feature differentiate themselves even further, by recycling greywater and/or human waste in a safe but non-standard manner on site. They also attempt self-sufficiency thru on-site food production.

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Steps to create an ecovillage or urban Agrihood

  1. Live in one! See the Examples section below to find one that seems the closest to the type you intend to create.
  2. Add to your leadership team or advisory board someone who has familiarity with permaculture and someone who has lived in intentional community.
  3. Use ICmatch.org and Wwoof.org to build up your core leadership team. These sites can also help you find values-aligned volunteers who might work on site in exchange for room and board, while assessing your IC as a possible long-term fit. Create local events. Partner with similar groups on the meetup website to invite others to learn and volunteer with you.
  4. Team up with local policymakers to get your site zoned for multiple uses, whether urban, rural, or remote.
  5. There are an endless variety of projects your IC could support; your biggest challenge might be to narrow down to a manageable number of projects. Ecovillages focus on such diverse projects as community supported agriculture, partners of local government for disaster preparedness and food security, event hosting, lodging and tours, green burial space, and community education. These can help provide a livelihood for your members.
  6. Create your business plan and grant proposals. To be eligible for more grants, you might team up with a university and non-profits.Team up with local community gardens or farms to share tools and learn tips about local growing.

Examples

Long-standing examples of urban sites include Kailash Ecovilage in Oregon and LA Ecovillage. Long-standing rural ecovillages include Arcosanti in Arizona and Dancing Rabbit in Missouri.

The Dervaes family’s urban farm in the Los Angeles area is growing 6000 lbs of food annually on 1/10th of an acre. The Urban Farmer shows you how to turn urban and suburban yards into food production. You might use the Resilience Circles format, as many of them turn backyard gardening into a social event. These neighbors stay in their existing homes. Sometimes each becomes expert at a different type of food. One might have backyard chickens under fruit trees. Another might maintain a small greenhouse or cold frames.

Swan Lake, a new development in rural Ontario is getting started “a la brava” as an ecovillage. This article could be a warning of the types of challenges these developments face, as well as an example of how such groups often have little cohesion aside from their shared desire for a sense of self-sufficiency and affordable housing that they are willing to sacrifice comforts for. While we hope for their success and have reached out, starting off without a well-formulated contractual framework among members seems to be part of the reason that such communities often become conflict-ridden.

Consultants

Members

Resources

If you are looking for existing ecologically sustainable communities, IC.org searches can help you sort out which existing intentional communities in North America have a self-sufficiency focus. See also the Global Ecovillage Network, NuMundo.org/centers (emphasis on Central & South America), and Ecobasa.org (emphasis on Europe).

Starting with a manual for urban ecovillages can help you learn from others’ mistakes. Project Regeneration has relevant sections on the nature of cities and sustainable buildings. If you are rural, see also the pages for small farms and ranches.

More reading and viewing resources:

  • Bang, J. M. (2005). Ecovillages. New Society Press.
  • Bang, J. M. (2007). Growing eco-communities: Practical ways to create sustainability. Floris Books.
  • Drecovillage. (2014). Full-length tour of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage at their 2013 open house.
  • Nelson, A. (2018). Ecovillages: Sustainability and system change. In Small is necessary: Shared living on a shared planet (pp. 130-158). Pluto Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctt1zk0mpz.12
  • Train for natural building.
  • Train for permaculture with Verge. David Holmgren offers many resources for permaculture, online and in books.