I’ve heard about Ecolonie several times from different people. It’s a Dutch ecovillage in France which is not only about ecology but also spirituality. One day I decided to send them an email and ask if we could come to live with them for a few weeks. They said yes! When we arrived it was already getting dark and we were just in time to join the group for dinner. The dining hall is a very cozy warm place with a wood stove keeping us warm during cold autumn days. It was crowded with people and it was clear that they had been working all day outside on the land.
I usually feel a bit shy when I meet a big group of new people but at the same time I felt relaxed and welcome at this place. I know it is always a process to find my way, to become part of a group and learn how everything works. I also noticed my tendencies to want to do things ‘right’ and to do my tasks well. And I felt how these tendencies can make me feel a bit tense sometimes. Someone here mentioned to me that being at this place makes you aware of your patterns and confronts you with yourself. After a few days I realized that this was happening to me too. I feel grateful for this moment that allows me to learn and grow. The next day things looked different and I felt relaxed and at ease. Talking to people here I learned that everyone has their own struggles and their own joys and it feels really good to be able to share both of them.
Currently this ecovillage, Ecolonie, has a group of permanent members and some short term volunteers like Boris and me. The ecovillage exists already for 30 years and some members are living here since a long time. Actually Boris’s grandfather was involved in founding Ecolonie back in 1989. Boris did not know his grandfather so well and we only know this fact from Boris his mother. Interestingly we met a couple of senior members who knew his grandfather well. Hearing stories about the old times, how his grandfather participated here and what kind of man he was, while sitting in the same dining hall where he had many years ago.
Every day after breakfast we start working, most days have the same schedule and we work about 40 hours each week. There is a bell for coffee break and a bell for lunch and dinner. So wherever you are working, on the fields, in the house or in one of the many buildings, you will always be able to hear the sound of the bell and know that it is time to eat or have a break.
The delicious food we eat comes mostly for their own land and is prepared with lost of love and care. We eat seasonal veggies and fruit from the land. Right now that means we have super delicious pumpkins, all kinds of cabbage, beetroots, potatoes, carrots, fennel, apples and a big variety of pickled and self-canned veggies. We get eggs from the chickens that live on their land and milk, yogurt and cheese from the goats at the farm. Usually I eat vegan, but seeing where the products come from and how the animals live here it feels good to enjoy some goat cheese every now and then. They also have their own bakery where they make the most yummy breads and croissants. There is a place to dry herbs and mushrooms, a veggie canning station, a production of sauerkraut, huge veggie fields, herb and flower gardens, bee hives, a library, a meditation hut, a café for guest in the summer, an organic grocery store, an art atelier, a lake and so much more. There is so much to see and to discover that even though we are here already for a while I haven’t seen everything yet.
It is super interesting to experience the life at Ecolonie. There are so many inspiring people here and I admire how they manage to run this place, live together and follow their vision of creating and cultivating Ecolonie in this particular way. I feel very happy that I have the opportunity to be here and contribute to this project. For now we are planning our next adventure. And as we are planning and discussing and talking to people about it we realize that what we are looking for right now is not so much a big journey around the world but much more an alternative way of life. We might end up wwoofing to learn more about ecological farming or teach yoga at a retreat center, or maybe a bit of both. To be continued!
Lots of love,
Sophie & Boris