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The sense in eco-villages

When we decided to move to a rural property I envisaged all the food I would be able to grow and the bushland I’d be able to restore. But to be honest – the fastest growing thing around here is our ‘to do list’.

The sense in eco-villages. Chores like fencing and the equipment needed are shared

We’ve spent much of the last three weekends fencing, there are weeds to be controlled and it’s taken us six months to get water to the veggie garden.

The sense in eco-villages, where these and other tasks are shared among households or delegated, is clearer to me now than ever before.

I’ve been watching with interest the progress of a proposed eco village here in the Hunter Valley. The Shepherds Ground eco village is destined for a 277 acre property around 15 minutes from Morpeth and only 40 minutes from the Newcastle airport. It will provide 29 households with the opportunity to enjoy living on a sustainable and productive rural property without the work that’s associated with going it alone.

For less than we paid for our nine acre powerless property with no home and no water, co-operative members will get a brand new sustainable home (designed by Melbourne architect Gregory Burgess) on their own small block of land overlooking productive farmland; and a licence to use the common areas, including their own large garden plot down by the river. There will also be a bakery, apiary, café and market garden.

The “vibrant and creative inter-generational community”, according to Lucie Bruvel, one of the key drivers of the project, will be a place where it’s “easy to live sustainably and cooperatively”. The village lifestyle is one of the main attractions for Lucie. “I’ve lived in communities and small villages in Europe and love the sense of connection and cooperation that comes with village life. There’s always someone to share a meal with or mind the children”. “I was lucky enough to grow up on a self-sufficient farm. We had a milking cow, made cheese, and grew much of our own food. It was a wonderful childhood – but a huge amount of work for my parents.” says Lucie. “An eco-village provides much the same opportunities – but without the workload”.

If you are interested in finding our more about the Shepherds Ground Eco Village contact info (at) shepherdsground (dot) com or turn up to one of their monthly meetings (3rd Friday of each month) at Woodville Community Hall.

Originally published in my Newcastle Herald column 'Less is More' 25th August 2013

Have you, or would you, consider living in an eco-village? 

Other posts on the topic of sustainable communities.