Sieben Linden, Germany
Founded in 1997 | Residents: 120
Rooted in a project that had existed since 1989 but only took form eight years later, Sieben Linden's reputation as a thriving ecological settlement grew quickly. A study from Kassel University in 2004 confirmed the community's low impact achievements: its carbon footprint is more than 70% below German average.
The project pioneers began by transforming the property's old barn into the ecovillage's central building, which nowadays hosts a number of communal facilities, from kitchen to library and meeting rooms. Throughout the years several comfortable and highly isolated strawbale houses have been built with inexpensive local materials: wood, straw and clay.
From the initial group of 7, the community grew to 120 people who gathered in different neighborhoods based on shared visions of lifestyle and socio-economic responsibilities. As the project evolved, the deep-ecological and veganist principles of some members prevailed over the biological farm vision of the others. The community ended up deciding not to raise animals or pets, with the exception of horses that help working the land that provides, in average, 50 to 70% of their vegetable needs.
Education: Small children attend the community's forest kindergarten. In all kinds of weather, five mornings a week they walk around the forest, climbing trees, building huts, observing animals and playing games that stimulate their creativity, as well as the respect for and understanding of nature. After the age of 6 they attend schools in the region.
Economy: All members are common owners of the land. Most adults work within the community in exchange for a salary in a variety of services comprised in the ecovillage, such as food production, house building, seminar center coordination and press office administration.
Energy and Water: Photovoltaic panels provide electricity to living areas and a wood-burning system supported by solar panels is used for heating. Fresh water comes from two wells and a reedbed system filters used water to be then re-used in gardening. The property is not connected to the local municipality's sewerage. All toilets are compost toilets, a system that doesn't waste water and converts organic matter into fertilizer.
Visitors: Sieben Linden is well known as an active member of the international eco-community movement and their educational programs on eco-living mobilize many visitors every year. Guests and volunteers are welcome upon appointment, and asked to pay a daily fee during their stay.