Our host: Ecovillage Sieben Linden
For the 3rd Future of Food meeting the FOF members went to Germany to visit ecovillage Sieben Linden. Situated about 200 km west of Berlin in a region that once was part of the former German Democratic Republic, a new village was built from scratch completely out of natural materials. It is now considered an internationally acclaimed model sustainability centre with visitors all year long and one of the major ecovillages in Europe.
As the story goes, the permission received by the initiator group in 1997 to build an entirely new village in Germany was close to a political miracle. The idea for the project goes further back in time when a Berlin based core group was born that started to build plans in 1989 for creating an “autonomous, ecological village”. Due to the unification of the two Germanies in that same year, new opportunities arose to buy a property with the desired size. Near the former border between East and West such properties existed but it lasted until 1997 when 22 ha of land were bought and the first settlers moved in.
Since then much has changed. The pioneer group of twenty persons has grown to around 140 residents. The first persons born in the village have by now grown up. By subsequent acquisitions of land, the total area of the community owned property has grown to 80 ha, of which 45 ha forest and 8 ha at which building is allowed. When walking around still see the famous Bauwagen (wagons on wheels) that were used for living by the settlers, now standing next to a series of modern, energy-efficient houses all built out of natural materials. Sieben Linden is renowned for its straw bale housing and boosts a three storey straw bale apartment building unique in Europe. The former farm house has been transformed into a community centre and hosts an international educational institution. All the infrastructure (roads, wells, electricity, telephone etc. ) have been created by the settlers themselves.
Growing your own food was important right from the project inception back in 1989. The poor soil that the settlers found has been transformed by years of care and turned into beautiful gardens. The relation to the surrounding landscape has been recovere. Nowadays a small team of gardeners employed by the community makes sure that a lot of good quality food is available for the inhabitants and guest all year round.
If you want to know how it feels like to walk through a human settlement completely designed by ecological principles, go to Sieben Linden, it is definitely worth a visit.