Eco-villages are human-scale living community models build up on sustainable environmental, social, economic and cultural values. The basic principle of the community is to reduce the ecological footprint by ensuring the resources are not used more than one can give back. It is an outcome of the participation of citizens with a sense of belongingness. The community believes in the capacity of humans to consciously enhance and improve the environments in which we live.
The choice and commitment made to reverse the disintegrating supportive social structures and the destructive environmental practices is the motivation for the growing eco-village movement. Considering the lack of meaningful content in life and the limited growth of the planet, it is necessary to get in action if we are to survive as species. The Global Environment Outlook 2000 report published by United Nations concludes that “the present course is unsustainable and postponing action is no longer an option”
The eco-village located in Findhorn and supported by Findhorn foundation is one of the finest examples of sustainable human settlements reflecting the theme on the ecological houses, innovative choice of building materials and technological advancements in the sewage treatment and energy generation. The community is designated as the UN Habitat Best practice in 1998.
Early 1980’s the members of the community were caravan dwellers leading an unecological, unhealthy and substandard living. It started as a prospective project to transform the existing caravan park into a model eco-village and a world wide fund raising helped in purchasing the park. The priorities set for the development was based on a bottom up approach considering the issues prevailed in poor quality of housing due to aging caravan, lack of usage of renewable source of energy, unsustainable lifestyle due to low wages and volunteer work and the lack of locally grown food resources.
In the initial stages, community based groups were formed and initiated for building schools which can build ecological solutions to replace the caravans. This helped in bringing skilled participants from Europe and North America with knowledge in ecological building. Along with the media coverage the movement got stronger and brought in support from professional bodies, government agencies and industry.
The community has erected 61 ecological buildings. The efforts have led to the development of a unique construction system which is environmentally sound and energy efficient. The simply build green publications from the community is UK’s first technical guide to ecological housing and is being used around the globe for environmental education.
The building utilizes the solar energy for water heating, rain water harvesting for garden, shared facilities for laundry, kitchen, lounges etc, simple timber frame construction using the locally grown timber harvested from the managed forests, roofing with natural clay tiles and the list goes on.(For detailed reading: http://www.ecovillagefindhorn.com/findhornecovillage/ecological.php)
Organic food production
The need to increase the use of local produce as well as to consume better quality of food has opened up a community supported agriculture scheme called EarthShare. The scheme supplies to much of the demand for vegetables for the community. The organic cheese, meat and eggs are produced at the nearby Wester Lawrenceton farm and this reduces the food miles.
Over the last 50 years the ecovillage has developed more than 60 different businesses and initiative.
Further reading and information
Krister Wiberg, Ecological villages, a European reality, Renewable Energy, Volume 15, Issues 1–4, September–December 1998, Pages 101-106, ISSN 0960-1481, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0960-1481(98)00146-3.