Boom of eco-villages in France for those looking for a simple associative life

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Eco-villages, schoolboy, where people join a community to live together in an eco-friendly way, has seen its popularity increase over the past year as the experiences of Covid-19 and containment have inspired many to consider start an alternative lifestyle.

The organization Co-operative Oasis, which advises anyone wishing to create or join this type of community, claims to have seen the number of interested people triple in the last twelve months.

“When we started in 2015, there were only 50 schoolboy. Today there are around 1,000 projects, of which around 600 are in progress, ”explains Gabrielle Paoli, Deputy Director. “In 2017, we set up discovery trips for people to visit the centers, but we canceled most of them for lack of interest. This year, one email was enough to make them all complete. Two years ago, € 20,000 was paid into our savings plan for investors in one month. Now we have 100,000 €.

Permaculture lifestyle in Écolieu Ilot des Combes | Photo: Ilot des Combes

She says schoolboy vary widely in size from two to thirty families. Some are purpose built and others are in old buildings. Many are in the countryside, but they can also be in cities. It can only be a place of life or an economic activity. Each community is organized differently. But they all adhere to certain criteria:

“They have to want to lead a simple, eco-friendly life and share an agreed amount of money, skills and equipment. They must produce some of their own food and be open to the outside world. We realize it’s not for everyone, but we believe that the more, the better for society as a whole. ”

Ed Carr, British and Astrid Charra, French, and their eleven and seven-year-old boys, Willem and Elio, lived in a schoolboy, Grain & Sens in Boffres, Ardèche since January 2019. There are 11 adults and four children of six nationalities between them who share a property of several buildings and 20 hectares of land.

Between themselves, they rent lodges, organize courses, many in English for immersive language learning for children and adults, and grow some of their food, including organic cereals, that one of their members, an artisan baker. transforms into bread, sold locally and in local markets. Ed Carr also works outside the community as a photographer and Astrid Charra teaches English in local schools:

Eco-village

Photo ‘family’ in their eco-village in Ardèche | Photo: Grain & Sens

“Before, we lived in the south of France. I worked for IBM and Astrid taught. Ed Carr said. “We started to feel locked in and wanted something more in life. We found that some friends felt the same, and we started looking for a place where we could shop together.

It took a while and only one in ten banks agreed to give them a loan, but eventually they were able to move in:

“It’s a very different way of life. It can be complex and intense living with other people from different cultures and having to come to an agreement on many aspects of life. We are working harder and longer than before with work both outside and inside the center and there have been a whole bunch of ups and downs.

“This is nothing like the hippie colonies that these kinds of communities were associated with. But there are many advantages. One of the highlights was the first lockdown where we were all together without outside visitors and we realized how strong we are as a group. It is very beautiful here and wonderful to have nature on our doorstep. Our eldest son loves birds and when he found an abandoned nest he was able to take care of the young and then free them.

“Many parents these days say they find it difficult to keep their children away from computer screens. We have almost the opposite, because ours are always outside and it is sometimes difficult to get them in at mealtime.

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