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Where are the larger permaculture communities in Europe?  RSS feed

 
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Hi there!

I'm a 32 year old from the Seattle, WA, USA area who's planning (and hoping) to retire to a sustainable, mostly self-sufficient lifestyle in about 3 years, in Europe. The challenge I'm facing is finding the right place to do this because there are so many options. It would be ideal to start homesteading in a place with other permaculturists, so I could learn from them and hopefully find a way to help in return. My question is: where can I find large concentrations of permaculturists in Europe?

If you want more details, read on. If you don't have time for pesky details and already know the answer to my question, please let me know!

If you're wondering "why Europe?" - I firmly believe the best location to be in Europe given the increasing healthcare costs in the US, and the overall higher cost of living here, and the unfortunately high degree of instability and crime in South America. Other than achieving self-sufficiency, my ideal criteria also includes accessibility to nearby hiking (via electric vehicle is fine), internet access and a Mediterranean climate which allows being outdoors year-round. My best guess as to where this would be is the coast from Valencia going up through Barcelona, Marseilles and ending in Genoa. I am quite clueless about the area as a whole other than an exceptional ability to research the weather at these places online

Since there are so many options, the deciding factor will be "cultural fit", i.e. how friendly the people are and how well we can get along. Reading this thread it seems like Central Portugal is a popular and affordable choice with friendly locals, but it also seems like that area has serious wildfire risks. Reading articles like this one in the NYT is concerning: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/12/world/europe/portugal-forest-fires-pedrogao-grande.html. If you think that Central Portugal is an ideal location, I'm curious what your thoughts are on mitigating the wildfire risk.

The only place I've visited in the Mediterranean was Madrid, whose climate I enjoyed in early June. I didn't feel that the people around Madrid, even outside the city, were particularly friendly though. I am planning another visit to Spain exploring the coast from Valencia to Barcelona and up to the French border in April. I'm hoping some of you may know more about what places are worth visiting and what places to avoid so I can skip some of expensive, uncomfortable and polluting overseas airplane trips. The ideal scenario is 2-3 years from now, I buy a plot of land near a couple homesteaders who speak some English, build a yurt or other sustainable home, and spend the rest of my days hiking and learning (reading, online courses, conversation, hands-on, etc).

Any recommendations on where this should be?

Thanks,
Fil
 
master pollinator
Posts: 328
Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
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Southefn Spain is very hot and dry away from the very expensive coast. Try Galicia, which is above Portugal.
 
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Fil Keller wrote:Hi there!

I'm a 32 year old from the Seattle, WA, USA area who's planning (and hoping) to retire to a sustainable, mostly self-sufficient lifestyle in about 3 years, in Europe. The challenge I'm facing is finding the right place to do this because there are so many options. It would be ideal to start homesteading in a place with other permaculturists, so I could learn from them and hopefully find a way to help in return. My question is: where can I find large concentrations of permaculturists in Europe?

If you want more details, read on. If you don't have time for pesky details and already know the answer to my question, please let me know!

If you're wondering "why Europe?" - I firmly believe the best location to be in Europe given the increasing healthcare costs in the US, and the overall higher cost of living here, and the unfortunately high degree of instability and crime in South America. Other than achieving self-sufficiency, my ideal criteria also includes accessibility to nearby hiking (via electric vehicle is fine), internet access and a Mediterranean climate which allows being outdoors year-round. My best guess as to where this would be is the coast from Valencia going up through Barcelona, Marseilles and ending in Genoa. I am quite clueless about the area as a whole other than an exceptional ability to research the weather at these places online

Since there are so many options, the deciding factor will be "cultural fit", i.e. how friendly the people are and how well we can get along. Reading this thread it seems like Central Portugal is a popular and affordable choice with friendly locals, but it also seems like that area has serious wildfire risks. Reading articles like this one in the NYT is concerning: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/12/world/europe/portugal-forest-fires-pedrogao-grande.html. If you think that Central Portugal is an ideal location, I'm curious what your thoughts are on mitigating the wildfire risk.

The only place I've visited in the Mediterranean was Madrid, whose climate I enjoyed in early June. I didn't feel that the people around Madrid, even outside the city, were particularly friendly though. I am planning another visit to Spain exploring the coast from Valencia to Barcelona and up to the French border in April. I'm hoping some of you may know more about what places are worth visiting and what places to avoid so I can skip some of expensive, uncomfortable and polluting overseas airplane trips. The ideal scenario is 2-3 years from now, I buy a plot of land near a couple homesteaders who speak some English, build a yurt or other sustainable home, and spend the rest of my days hiking and learning (reading, online courses, conversation, hands-on, etc).

Any recommendations on where this should be?

Thanks,
Fil



Don't buy in Madrid, summers are too hot and winters cold, it is more continental than mediterranean. Valencia and Alicante are fantastic, the people are lovely, and it is not cold in the winter. The South of Spain has cheaper land. I am originally from Spain and I am considering buying a small plot for playing gardener in the South of the province of Valencia . I heard there are permaculture expats in Spain, land is cheap and eroded, the weather is great. Marseille and the French Meriderranan surprised me because its humidity, I did not like it in the summer. If you want really cheap land and relatively near to the coast consider the province of Albacete between Madrid and Valencia in Spain. Here is my favorite city in valencia https://www.recordrentacar.com/blog/en/europes-largest-palm-grove-elche/and some real-estate.

For land in Spain, check idealists.com and milanuncios.com

 
Ella Irati
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Dirt cheap land in Albacete, Spain, https://www.idealista.com/en/inmueble/36067566/

but do  not buy anything without seeing it first, it may have effects that you can only realize on site. I do not recommend Albacete unless you like solitude and are prepared for some harsh weather, as in very dry and hot in the summer, for example. Valencia is great in my opinion.
 
Posts: 164
Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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Larger European permaculture communities, hmmm.. I've heard of two, forgot their names, sorry.
Being from Europe i've given this some thought.
Permaculture is just starting to become mainstream in Europe, we've been very comfortable in large swathes of Western Europe.
People come to permaculture for a few reasons, health concerns, prepping concerns, religious/ideological/environmental concerns and poverty plays a big part as well.
Health care is reasonable obtainable also for poor, war or societal collapse is of no concern to the masses, not very religious either, there are quite a lot of ideological concerns but a lot of that comes from people in cities who are well off. Some people with roots in rebel flavors have moved to the land, hippie ish being the main one some punky types, poets/artists/musicians have been on the land for a long time. Poverty is on the rise everywhere, middle classes disappearing.
DIY mentality is smaller here as well, people being able to get government handouts quite easy, doesn't help in a strange way in another way there is some government support for small projects here and there, but then they choose not to live there, but in the apartment of the city.
Another one, it's overly regulated here.
Spain/Portugal people talk about, if i'm anything to go by, and France is doing it's own thing, land still cheap, farmers ageing, healthcare still good and cheap.
Another thing is permaculture is  English, not everybody here speaks that well enough to follow the blogs.
Well hope to not have put you off.
Come on fellow europeans, pull your maps out with the permaculture communities, i'm dying to be proven wrong.
 
Posts: 17
Location: Southern Germany
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Hugo Morvan wrote:
Come on fellow europeans, pull your maps out with the permaculture communities, i'm dying to be proven wrong.


Sorry, can't prove you wrong...
Apart from the fact that Germany is not quite Mediterranean, the fact about over-regulation is true. There is a growing number of people interested in organic farming and self-sufficiency but the bureaucracy here is so big that it slows down almost every impulse. Besides, the stability, health-care etc. benefits come with the downside of very (very) expensive property prices. The acreage of the land owned by people and quoted here on this forum makes my heart bleed and eyes brim with envy!

France: Know too little.
Spain: Galicia is great weather-wise, but be aware that there is also the risk of wildfires. Same goes for Portugal. When my parents looked for a retirement place however they were dissuaded from Portugal by the surprisingly high prices compared to Southern Spain.
They are in Andalucia now (well, for many years already). They live on the outskirts of a small town on the Atlantic coast, among agriculture. The soil is fertile, there is (still) ground water, you can plant year round but the locals use lots of pesticides etc., you have very hot and dry summers and a nasty strong wind almost year round.

From other forums I know of some Germans who live a bit more solitary in the hills of Andalucia, trying to be as eco-friendly and self-sufficient as possible. But these are individuals/couples who cannot be called communities.

ETA: In fact, considering possible food and economical problems in the future I have been thinking about that place as well. My parents don't only have their house but an adjacent field that is being used by a farming neighbour. In their own yard they have olives, citrus, vines, persimmons, figs (all quite untended, my parents have neither the energy nor the knowledge or ambition). Not sure what it would take to "heal" the soil of that field that is farmed with chemicals. But the soil is really fertile and it is so good to have very fresh produce and perfectly mature fruits year round. Here in Southern Germany this is a great luxury.
 
Amanda Launchbury-Rainey
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Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
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Anita Martini wrote:
Spain: Galicia is great weather-wise, but be aware that there is also the risk of wildfires. Same goes for Portugal. When my parents looked for a retirement place however they were dissuaded from Portugal by the surprisingly high prices compared to Southern Spain.



It is true that we do get wildfires in Galicia but it really does depend on where you are. The main fires have been caused by plantations of eucalyptus so it is eashenough to avoid those areas. The fires in southern Lugo are nothing compared to other regions of Galicia and the prices are rediculously low. But you do have to accept how rural the economy and the people are. Outside of big cities medium to high end restaurants are rare and shops sell basics because that is how the gallegos prefer to live. It is like stepping back in time.  Check out this website:
https://galiciaparadise.com/empresa.asp

I wish you good luck with your search.  If you enjoy camping, feel free to rock up with a tent  and explore.

P.s. A friend of mine in the south has been unable to find even a small plot for her veggies as high unemployment amongst the spaniards is driving them back to their family huertos to grow their own food.
 
gardener
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Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
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...



Don't buy in Madrid, summers are too hot and winters cold, it is more continental than mediterranean. Valencia and Alicante are fantastic, the people are lovely, and it is not cold in the winter. The South of Spain has cheaper land. I am originally from Spain and I am considering buying a small plot for playing gardener in the South of the province of Valencia . I heard there are permaculture expats in Spain, land is cheap and eroded, the weather is great. Marseille and the French Meriderranan surprised me because its humidity, I did not like it in the summer. If you want really cheap land and relatively near to the coast consider the province of Albacete between Madrid and Valencia in Spain. Here is my favorite city in valencia https://www.recordrentacar.com/blog/en/europes-largest-palm-grove-elche/and some real-estate.

For land in Spain, check idealists.com and milanuncios.com


Thanks for posting about your experience with the region.  It sounds lovely.

The link to the blog post about Elche seems to be broken.
I found a Wikipedia post about the same place: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmeral_of_Elche
and I think this link will get you to the original blog post: https://www.recordrentacar.com/blog/en/europes-largest-palm-grove-elche/


 
pollinator
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Now obviously the climate does NOT fit what you are looking for, but if you look on this link Map of Danish premaculturistsyou'll see a map of the members of a Danish permaculture association, Now Denmark is not large but as you can see they are well spread out, and I suspect you'll find that in most European countries, as one cannot normally buy large areas of land.
Danish land prices are pretty benign, 1 hectare (2.2 acres) with a house (livable but in need of TLC) for 200000DKK which is about $31000 USD Farm land runs between 70000 and 130000 but there are rules to who can buy.
 
Fil Keller
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Thank you all for your replies. Responding to each person:

Ella - I've seen some posts where people complain about humidity in the Valencia region - is this really a problem? Do you know of any permies in the Valencia region? It would be great to learn from locals about the area.

Amanda - Galicia sounds like a great place, although a bit too rainy for me. Are there any microclimates that aren't super rainy?

Hugo - Are there any permies in your area?

Anita - I've visited Germany and love the people, but was very sad when I went to the farmers market in winter and found produce from New Zealand, Italy and Spain. Fresh produce is a luxury indeed.

Skandi - Thanks! It's great to see permaculture is so popular in Denmark. Looks like a great place to visit and learn from.

Maybe the better way to ask my question is - where are you in Europe and how many of your neighbors practice permaculture?
 
Hugo Morvan
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Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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Sorry Fil for not responding, somehow i didn't see in my mail that someone reacted.
In my area there quite some interesting projects going on from people busy with permaculture. Some try to form like a commune, they bought a place and look for people. There is someone who gives PDC's and has woofers over. There is a french project 50 km from me feeding a village and there is a young bloke who has a lot of acreage doing permaculture and giving courses. A young couple is busy starting a big garden and hope to live of selling veggies and bread. And a few retirees who embraced the style, and some folks like myself, with jobs and a serious hobby/lifestyle, nobody who lives like a Sepp Holzer as far as i know and no communities. I really do not know everything that's going on in my region, i try to bring some permie people together, but everybody is really occupied, worried the others will take their ideas / money stream or that the others have a bigger better project. Some people just say they do permaculture, just use the word to be interesting. There is also an organisation here that tries to stop the clearcutting, they have a bio shop, mostly old insular french folk, not very interested in what foreigners do or have to say.
 
Hugo Morvan
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