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Ecovillage and ownership?  RSS feed

 
Rosa Bo
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Hi,

Do any of you know ecovillages (throughout Europe) that are based on ownership of land/property rather than just living there in exchange for work? My partner and I would be interested in living in an ecovillage, but we would still want to have our own land (thus grow our own food independently) and build our own structure to live in. Basically, we would want to live in an ecovillage to barter food and reduce social isolation. However, every time we've done research, it seems that an ecovillage 'owns' the people who live there, as they can hardly make autonomous decisions about what to grow, what building style to adhere to, what projects to start, etc. - everything is subject to collective interest. Sometimes they don't even have their own building, and then of course there are regular meetings and usually also scheduled group dinners. Don't take me wrong, I'm in no way looking down on this type of lifestyle, but I know that this degree of community is not for everyone either. To us, it would simply be very important to maintain autonomy as a family - and we would grant our neighbours the same. But that doesn't mean we can't help each other and participate in barter.

So, I would be very curious to learn about ecovillages like the one I've just described. Are they out there, and how does one gain ownership - i.e. is it still based on the monetary system?

Thank you for any information!

Rosa
 
Rus Williams
pollinator
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Location: Zutphen, The Netherlands
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I can't really answer your question but it seems quite similar to what my wife and I found when we looked at eco villages in europe. Most of them were a bit too heavy on the community aspect, for us at least.

Basically my ideal of an eco village would be for several families to buy adjoining farms, and then decide where to put up fences, where to take them down, where to help each other and where to focus on our own work and ideas.

If we can't find one, maybe we could talk about starting one?

 
James Mariorenzi
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Location: Palazzolo Acreide (SR), Italia
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Hi Rosa and Rus,

I have spent a lot of time traveling Spain, France and Italy for the same but to no avail.
The idea of having some families purchasing adjoining or at least very close places is very appealing.

Rus Williams wrote:
If we can't find one, maybe we could talk about starting one?


I'd be interested to see if some positive progress could be made into forming such a place.

James
 
Rosa Bo
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Thank you for your messages. I did think there must be other people with similar hopes and aspirations, yet the communal type of ecovillage seems to dominate. It's great to learn that we are not alone in our vision.

Exploring the options we have would be very interesting, I agree. After all, each ecovillage is the result of action and joined forces.

At the moment, we are struggling to decide on a specific country/area. We are thinking in terms of e.g. climate, cost of land, learning the language, homeschooling, the balance between infrastructure and nature... Neither of us are fans of the typical Mediterranean climate in summer. Because we are still saving, we haven't made a final decision, and through research we keep changing our minds as to what is the most suitable location. Of course, no country is perfect and everything is relative. On paper it can be difficult to get a feel for it. So far, we have seriously considered Sweden and Northern Portugal/Spain, but we haven't ruled out France and potentially some Eastern European countries, and we are open to suggestions.
 
Rus Williams
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http://www.frenchestateagents.com/french-property-for-sale/view/58123DA16/house-for-sale-in-st-claud-charente-poitou-charentes-france#financement

This is where we would go tomorrow given a following wind, a few reasonable human beings, and a solid business plan.
It's warm and cold enough, wet enough, half an hour from an interesting city and the property seems to be more than interesting enough.

I'm listening to Bill Mollisons PDC recording and he's starting to talk about communities, local economies, businesses and the common work model. As you'd expect from Bill it's all very down to earth and practical.

I get the feeling that a clear understanding of what each person wants, who they are and where they want to go is one of the essential steps that is often missed out, and that the expectations of other people often don't match reality.

Building an intentional community where everybody is always in perfect flow, and disagreements are solved within half an hour in a lovingly facilitated session seems to me to be the same thing as trying to intentionally making they next funny cat video that goes viral and takes the web by storm. Might happen, probably won't.

A good friend of mine introduced me a long time ago to the idea that your community is the one that you are in, not the one you necessarily want. Your neighbours, the person that owns the corner shop, the dog walker you bump into, are people that we are in community with.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that all I want from a community, (and how I want to be in one),  is for people to be who they are, and only promise what they will deliver, and to not feel the need to have to join in activities that they don't want to.
The other side of this is the recognition that sometimes it's necessary to do things we don't want to do, (unblocking toilets, bringing in the harvest on a stinking hot day), because if we can't do that, we give no energy to give towards improving the situation for ourselves and everyone else.

Which I guess comes down to whether someone chooses to spend their life being a giver, builder, maker, solver, do-er, dreamer, thinker, improver, connector, learning-from-mistake-er.
I definitely am.

Which brings me back to the designers manual and then this lovely quote

A basic question that can be asked in two ways is
"What can I get from this land, or person?" or
"What does this person, or land, have to give if I  co-operate with them?"
Of these two approaches, the former leads to war and waste, the latter to peace and plenty.
 
Rosa Bo
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Thanks for the in depth reply. You have raised a lot of good points, and some philosophical questions. We would essentially like to get away from capitalism, so can definitely see the capitalist mentality of "What can I get from this land, or person?", and certainly don't share that sentiment.

Ideally an eco village community we envision would be potentially working together - even with separate land/houses - on projects or food production or home schooling as a quick example but at the same time being independent and not inherently linked. Though it's still important to us that the community does share beliefs and goals - being eco friendly, non polluting, organic etc. People we want to share a journey with through life, even if some members of the community kept to themselves mostly. With an adventure like this we think the quality of our neighbours would be very important!

That's an awful lot of land in the link you posted! Interesting to know if that's the price range you have in mind, and are you looking at buying an existing house? In the last few days we have been looking at Slovenia, it seems to tick a lot of boxes for us and the price of land seems reasonable. We are looking at building our own house after an initial period in a tipi. We like the low impact living of a tiny house and are on a tight budget.

Here is a quick example of something we found, which could have potential for an eco village site, though we haven't actually looked at the particulars of the land in terms of amenities:

http://www.salomon.si/oglas/nepremicnine/kmetijska-zemljisca/sezana-lokev-105401-m2/14.TJNVG
 
James Mariorenzi
Posts: 17
Location: Palazzolo Acreide (SR), Italia
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Rus,

I was through that area of France not long ago.
Is that you that made the offer on the property?
Very beautiful in that area and there is some good value, for the amount of land and infrastructure that some of these places have.

Your thoughts are well thought out. I'm a firm believer of, a person gets out what they put in.


 
Jeff Wesolowski
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Location: nw ohio
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I just read a couple of books, Tribe by Sebastian Junger, and 150 strong  by Rob O'Grady.  I am developing a different mindset.  How did the Native Americans live together without owning land?  I think we are hung up on land ownership. We are so intent on owning land and when we die what happens to it?  Does it revert to someone that doesn't even care about what was created there?  My dream would be not to own land but to be shared so when I pass on, the land and the spirit of the land would be used in a way that what we intended it for.  I think of covetousness of accumulation of wealth and stuff hinder us.  Does anybody else feel this way?  Jeff
 
Rus Williams
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Hi Rosa. That link you posted looks awesome. The price is comparable to agricultural land in france (webpage6000 euros a hectare in 2015)

For many reasons, mostly to do with being in a oceanic climate, we're not wanting to go that far east. The price range is too high for us alone,  but as there is two properties it would be do-able (just) with another family. Ag land is not straight forward to buy in france, (and impossible to build on) unless you are a farmer. Farming is the long-term plan, but there are a lot of hoops to jump through before that happens.

So to answer your question James, there was no offer on the property. We're probably having to look at a ruin and land and then living in temporary accommodation while we rebuild. We've done this before (I'm a carpenter amongst other things) so I'm fully aware of the work involved. And to be honest rebuilding and building a farm business at the same time on my own looks pretty daunting.

Hi Jeff

Owning land isn't actually that important to me, but the use of it is. It seems easier to pass the land on if we own it, but that's just a reflection of how our laws are at this time, and different people have different ideas about what is important. It's difficult.
I visited a manorhouse/ campsite/ community a few years back when I'd first discovered permaculture. The situation was beyond awesome, a lake in a valley with a dam and hydro, plenty of pasture, trees on the slopes and good infrastructure. The people there were only interested in meeting their basic needs and just hanging out in the beautiful spots. To me it was a waste of an awesome resource - way too sleepy and dreamy. To them it was a perfect place to 'be'.  

Marx talks about having the means of production in your own hands. I'm not a Marxist (far from it) but without the land to feed ourselves, we are all dependent on the continuation of society, politics and economics as it currently stands, which for me feeds back to Mollison "The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children".
At the moment it seems that if I don't own the land I need, then I'm relying on something I have no control (or faith) in.

As I understand it, Iwi (tribes) in New Zealand had access to a piece of land at certain times, and other Iwi at other times. This depended on historical Access was controlled and organised, not the land itself. Was this kind of land use widespread in America? I think I remember learning that the plains Indians used land like this, but I may be misremembering.
 
Rosa Bo
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Hi All,

We are so so sorry for such a late reply! We didn't get any notification of any messages posted and we just happened to check before xmas and was surprised to see replies! Of course we have been busy over the holiday period and just settled back down now! Also, some laziness in replying (Adam, not Rosa!).

Firstly, just to echo Rus' excellent reply to Jeff. We hope to create something bigger than ourselves. Living in harmony with the land and creating a bigger movement - eco community for example, one that continues well into the future. In this world that is simply impossible if we don't own the land, and that requires being part of the money system as it currently works. Even if you own the land there are no guarantees into the future. Does the land come with all rights (to fish, utilise trees/resources, mining rights - not we want to but stopping others undermining for example, airspace, etc), or what about compulsory purchases because governments want the land for other uses. The more one thinks about it, the more depressing it becomes. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to pick a bit of land and live like a free animal

Rus,

We actually spent some time looking at France since your posts, however we feel its probably going to be too restrictive, difficult to achieve what we want. You have alluded to that in your last post about the hoops needed to jump through and difficulty buying and building on land. We have been torn between Portugal and Sweden mostly, but recently are thinking Sweden is the way to go. There seems to be less sacrifices there. Although initially Slovenia looked a good option, we think it might be too difficult (legally) and of course the language is daunting.

Looking at Sweden there seems to be many positives, the language is easier to learn for English speakers (apparently!), there is a lot of forest/green land and there seems to be good prices, climate seems very similar to UK in the South and Central parts, it seems easier legally to set up an eco-village as far as we can tell, there is a growing organic farm movement, the government is a green coalition which could potentially be more amenable, a lot of stunning natural areas which could aid an eco-tourism business perhaps. One thing that seems really helpful is the Swedish culture of the 'fritidshus' (basically means holiday cottage), which has easier regulations and is used by some people as a permanent home (and the municipalities are aware of that). It doesn't necessarily mean you build whatever you want (in terms of functionality it must be functional - as an example, that the materials don't rot), but when Rosa did a quick land search she could quite easily find plots that mentioned building a fritidshus as a prime example for the plots' use. Although we have a lot to learn and still ignorant of lots of things im sure! We plan on visiting early this year to get a feel for the country and to hopefully visit an existing eco-village to get more information.

Would you be interested in considering Sweden? Have you made any progress on your plans?

Adam and Rosa.

 
brian haitz
Posts: 17
Location: alsace france
food preservation hugelkultur wofati
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Hello everyone,

I came across this thread after searching the forum for Community/ Land acquisition/ large scale living projects. its Especially interesting to see because this thread is particularly about Europe which is where my family and I are based. My wife, Our daughter and I have you been researching and planning a move to either an existing eco-village type of settlement or alternatively start our own. Of course the first option is always preferable. In our case it hinges on the ability of building housing in alternative ways which is particularly difficult in central Europe due to building codes etc.

We have also travelled around Europe doing various workaways in order to meet people and find out about local building codes and land prices. Currently our top spots include
Brittany in the north west of France (vast lands at low price, Mild gulf stream climate and it's known for quirky mayors and eco-friendly people ),
Greece which is particularly interesting for its current intellectual state, Having Learned the hard way that capitalism is not the future , there are many young people willing and very able to go into new alternative ways of living pus low Land prices. The main drawback being, Probably more difficult to aquire tools and means  in lack of healthy craft and manufacturing structure.
South Eastern Italy, spectacular landscape Beautiful weather fantastic people but unfortunately not a whole lot of land available in large sizes, Although the prices can be quite reasonable also. Would probably intend to seek out a mountainous area for fresh air and water in the summer, no further knowledge on building codes

I am stunned by the price of the land in Slovenia that you posted. It would be very interesting to find out more about the political situation and the restrictiveness of building codes.

What I am Particularly interested in would be collectively creating A comprehensive List of these type of projects and settlements. Of course there is http://sites.ecovillage.org but I have the impression that a lot of new projects are not listed here and I cant seem to find any other list. One of the top projects in terms of organisation and holistic integration of living, organic farming, agritourism, alternative lifestyle and building, Business and Financial equity and what I also like a lack of doctrine is terraperma.ca . This is what we need in Europe.

I really look forward to hearing from you and continuing our engagement!!!

cheers
brian
 
Dawn Hoff
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We were looking for an Eco-village before we bought the land that we now have (Andalucia, Spain). But all we found were very very communal places like the once described here in this thread. We ended up buying this land, but we are finding that  some of the ideas of an Eco-village really speak to us.

We would love if other permies/homeschoolers would buy some of the small farms around us and move ind, and we could make a community. I am very bad at working alone - and since my hunsband has a full time job and travels... well that does limit the amount of work we get done - but put me in a group I can work with and I am a workhorse! I would also love for my kids to just be able to run up to the neighbours and play when they wanted, without me needing to get in the car and drive them somewhere. I would love to do workshops for groups of kids and teach them what I am good at (all on a voluntary basis). I would love to do put-lucks, or maybe have a "food-club" like we had a university where we take turns at cooking for each other (and you "pay" back with meals in proportion to how many time you participate). I would love to have a co-op that could shop organic foods together. I would love to be a big group of adults who could get together and build a chicken-run in a day. Let a bee-keeper have his hives on my land etc. etc.

But I also love to be able to close my door. I love that I can raise my children without others constantly telling me how I "should be doing it" etc. I love to have days where  I see no one but my family. I love to be able to decide where to plant a tree without going through a 3 hour community meeting... I don't want to share my income ... I do not believe that Capitalism is the problem (though that is a subject for the cider press)... I actually believe that owning the land and being able to decide what to do with it (esp. who to pass it on to) is essential for good land husbandry and sustainability.

There are tons of bureaucratic problems in Spain, and homeschooling isn't legal (we are many who still do it though). But I think that is true all over Europe (I know that in Denmark where many eco-villages exist, they have issues with being allowed to put tiny houses on farmland eg. because if it is farmland it is by definition not residential and you cannot get building permit). The mediterranean red tape is worse than up north - but mainly because the Mediterranean government don't already know everything about your every waking hour (which they do in eg. Denmark). It is easier to "disapear" here to be completely outside the system (but you can't be 100% outside the system if you own land - that is true everywhere at least in the west).

Anyway - if anyone of you are interested you are welcome to drop by and see what I mean - plenty of houses for sale here, and also land with no buildings on (though those are hard to get permits for).
 
brian haitz
Posts: 17
Location: alsace france
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My wife and I are continuing the search for possible land for ourselves or more preferably for several parties. At the moment we are focusing our research on France, As it's our impression that building alternatives style housing, which is a top priority for us, might be less difficult of the developed countries in central Europe. At least there is knowledge of people having built and gotten permission for e g an earthship. Additionally it's not too densely populated, so the chances are reasonable. For European standards that is. However we are not opposed in any way to leaving Europe but it is the more realistic option in case we need to do it on our own.

Would anybody be interested in an online meeting of sorts? In order to consolidate and exchange ideas for creating communities in Europe. If common ground is found then it would be worth everyones while to start a small task force that assesses the viability of various scenarios.

We will also continue visiting Community Building workshops and meetings in order to increase our exposure to like minded people.

More generally speaking I would be very interested in other peoples ideas regarding the best way of exchanging knowledge and information which we are all individually gathering with our efforts. There must be a way to connect some dots and create increased value for everyone. One possible idea that has crossed my mind is of course blogging about the search for community.

Looking forward to hearing from you
 
James Mariorenzi
Posts: 17
Location: Palazzolo Acreide (SR), Italia
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Hi Brian,

An on-line meeting might be a good starting point.
I'm in Central Italy and looking for the alike.

James

 
piet vastie
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Location: belgium
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maybe you can buy land close to existing communities? i know that for example in portugal there are regions with a lot of alternative lifestyle people.
visit communities, if you like them buy some land close by, you get the social contacxt/help but you're still your own boss.
 
David Livingston
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Hi Brian
What part of France are you looking at ?
My experiance is that once you are half an hour away from a large town prices drop like a stone ( sauf Paris ) it's amazing how cheap you can get somewhere to do up if you can make an offer in person . North Anjou north Vandee look good bets the housing market is very slow at the moment.

David
 
brian haitz
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Location: alsace france
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Hi David

Nice to hear from you. I have just caught up with your project it looks like you're doing a fantastic job in a Beautiful area.

We are not fixed on a specific area but definitely South of Paris, anything a bit inland from the West Coast, Maybe perigord or also Brittany. The latter being interesting for us as Celtic musicians. However the main determining factor I presume Will be the landlord and the Mayor as we are hoping to buy cheap land off grid.
 
Jordan Luyckx
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Hi everyone!

I'm late to this, but just wondered if anything came out of it? Our main experience is that there are many people talking, but few people actually doing something about it - particularly when it comes to this type of Eco-Village...

We have been looking for more than 2 years for something very close to originally discussed. My partner and I don't want to live full-on co-op living communal, hugging and dancing all the time forced socially, or a fully nudist camp, or a religious village or a fully "free-love" village (Again, if people want to do those things in the privacy or their own homes and/or with other consenting adults - no judgement whatsoever, but we would prefer it not to be one of the core concepts, otherwise we would stick out like a sore thumb!) . However, we do envision that the land would have shared and private elements to include all types of people - those who want to be more communal and those who don't. Those who want to "buy-in" and pay a rent or retire there in peace and with a reduced impact of living and those who want to work for the community and support that way. Private incomes are private, but there should be a possibility and encouraged to form community incomes from different members in the community, or even community projects as a whole. (Again, with different levels of "approval") If it's your private land - do what you want, with who-ever you want, income from that is private. We also support bartering, shared schooling, pooled resources (voluntarily) and support of "retired" members - Basically we see a mix of socialism with elements of capitalism (but not profit for profits sake!) - It should be in order to sustain the minimal impact living. The problem is, doing this alone would be too "all at once" - just like when you say, OK, I'm going to get fit and healthy today and start with everything - 99% will "fail" - you can't do everything from scratch all by yourself. It needs a group of people to focus on specific things that make a better whole!

If anyone is doing this, interested in this, has any information, please get in touch as we would love to hear from you!

Jordan & Marian
 
brian haitz
Posts: 17
Location: alsace france
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Hi Marian, I like what you wrote. We are in the process of finding a possibility very similar to what you have described. At the moment we are looking at pieces of land as well as visiting various community building meetings around France and Germany.

It would be very interesting and wonderful to have a chat together.

Regards
brian
 
paolo Barberis
Posts: 3
Location: Varese Ligure, Italy
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Hello, I would like to signal here my project for a small cohousing, addressing the issue of excessive invasion of private life, that has been my concern, too.
Please have a look: https://piandelrosso.wordpress.com

Here a sample of few criteria and the reasons to choose the site:

The selection of households is based on vision and reasons, they should be compatible with the following criteria:

  • passion for country life;
  • management in permaculture way;
  • no animal’s husbandry;
  • solutions to lower overall costs: supplies, transport;
  • development of natural and artistic beauty of the place;
  • construction of passive houses, minimum use of energy;
  • voluntary production of high quality food;
  • incentive of social diversity, creative activities;
  • No compulsory duties, max nuclei's privacy, yes to a social management for getting scale savings, tax advantages, supply and transportation sharing, access to subsidies.


  • The reasons of site's choice are:

  • water abundance, rainfall from 1500 to 2400 mm/year, apparently positive outlook in a global warming scenario;
  • population density of the area around 15 people/Km2, while the average Italian's density is 220;
  • despite low density the place is close to the 5 terre coast, 40 minutes away from main communication lines (highway, train), and 2 hours from Pisa and Genoa airports;
  • proximity (3Km) to a cute, well conserved town: Varese Ligure, where main services are available;
  • The overall ecology is improving (reforestation), with no polluting facilities, the basin is already known as organic valley, water is potable almost everywhere;
  • professional organisations to help get agricultural subsidies are efficient, here.
  • NO MOSQUITOS! The biodiversity and climate put this annoying insects out of play, it's possible to enjoy the place all year round.


  • The downside; it's not a park, hence haunt is present even if reducing with new generations. On the other hand, for same reason, it's possible to build the planned new houses.

    Good luck to everybody
    la-casa-e-la-fioritura.jpg
    [Thumbnail for la-casa-e-la-fioritura.jpg]
     
    Dawn Hoff
    Posts: 501
    Location: Andalucía, Spain
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    We already have bought land, and do not want to sell. But plenty of houses are for sale around us - which could make a "project" like this a little different: People can buy their own and we can work together to the extent we want. We also have an offer for potential spin farmers who want to grow stuff on our land - but currently we don't have housing (but people can park a camper or RV here). We are just putsode Malaga 15 min to the airport/30min to the centre. There is a huge market here, with easy access.
     
    Rosa Bo
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    Hi,

    I just wrote a really detailed update for you... But my phone screwed me over and now it's all lost.

    Sigh... I have lost the motivation to rewrite this and a few busy weeks coming up, so not sure when I will get back to this unfortunately.
     
    Mauro Barbosa
    Posts: 2
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    Hi

    Well if you want explore beyond of your expectations, the best thing that can do is buy land and establish your project

    Also look for other options even outside of Europe; check this site; trompitohills.wix.com/colombia

    Cheers!

    Andres

     
    Grace Guia
    Posts: 4
    Location: portugal
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    Off grid land on offer. Rent FREE. Ideally for food forest/permaculture project. The land is situated in Malpica do Tejo 20 minutes drive to Castelo Branco (Central Portugal). It is a 10 minutes drive to the village of Malpica do Tejo near the Natural Park. It has 1.4 hectares, a well and a stream. Only a few fruit trees but you can plant loads more. It has a ruin made of cob that can be rebuilt and also space for other small shelters. It is a bit isolated so its better suited to a group of people rather than one family.


    Terreno off grid em oferta. Aluguel GRÁTIS. Idealmente para o projeto de floresta de alimentos / permacultura. A terra está situada em Malpica do Tejo, a 20 minutos de carro de Castelo Branco (Portugal Central). Está a 10 minutos de carro da aldeia de Malpica do Tejo, perto do Parque Natural. Tem 1,4 hectares, um poço e um córrego. Apenas algumas árvores frutíferas, mas você pode plantar mais cargas. Tem uma ruína feita de cob que pode ser reconstruída e também espaço para outros pequenos abrigos. É um pouco isolado por isso é mais adequado para um grupo de pessoas em vez de uma família.
     
    ariana galazios
    Posts: 2
    Location: Greece
    fungi
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    Hey,
    I have just read all the communication going on here and I like it very much.
    I was born in Slovenia, so if anyone needs more info let me know. Lately some foreigners are coming to buy a piece of land there, to reorganize it, renovate old buildings or revitalize the structures and to live in a bit different ways like half of other population is living in the country side. In a way I think this is great, because this country needs a bit of the foreign wind to turn the old mind patterns in different positions. But it is hard to say that you will meet a lot of open minded people in such a beautiful, clean, pristine country like Slovenia
    For the time being I live in Greece, for last 3 years I am volunteering a lot, checking for any kind of options or initiatives emerging in Greece, but as there seems to be so much empty space for something new to thrive, it goes extremely slowly.
    If any one of you thinks of moving to Greece, let me know - to connect and join the forces.
     
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