Why to create ecovillage and ecocommunity?

I previously published a call to create an ecocommunity by commonly purchasing land in Alūksne area, Latvia and dividing it among participants according to contribution. One of acquaintances responded with a question “Why would anyone buy land just because you live in that area?

I would like to rephrase this question:

Why is it necessary for ecological individuals to live close to each other?

The answer to this question is simple – united we stand, divided we fall. Ecovillage is necessary for members of ecocommunity to join forces in reaching common goals. Imagine two situations. First situation is divided ecocommunity where its’ members own 20 hectares each and are located 20 km from each other. Second situation is ecocommunity where all members and their land pieces are united in a larger piece of land with average distance of only 1 km among homes.

Creating a large ecologically clean and biodiverse area – ecosystem.
My family owns 70 hectares of land. That is more than average in the country. However it is not enough to protect from the rest of consumerist-industrial world. These 70 hectares are surrounded by thousands of hectares sprayed with toxic chemicals and thousands of hectares of clear-cut forest areas. My drinking water is most likely polluted with herbicides and other agrochemicals and there is not so much of scenery left to look at. Bypassing cars are dropping trash at the road, not just accident cigarette packages, but bags full of different package. Overall situation is depressive no matter how ecological I am. But if I lived at least on the edge of a large ecovillage, then at least in one direction I could look and see something beautiful. There is a certification rule, that organic farmer may not harvest up to 10 meters away from the border of his land and land of his intensive neighbour. Organic beekeeping requires that bees do not collect honey from fields of intensive agriculture. Latvian beekeepers have discovered that bees can fly 7 km to intensive rapeseed producers plantations and collect nectar from there. That means, organic beekeeping is only possible in the middle of a 10 square kilometers ecovillage. Such a large ecovillage would have only forests with selective cuts or even more – only fallen trees would be taken. And of course, no pesticides, no herbicides, no synthetic fertilizers and zero waste policy excluding possibility of plastic bags and bottles flying around. Members of ecocommunity can be sure that the groundwater is safe and honey does not contain traces of agrochemicals.

Visiting each other.
To drive, or not to drive. That is the question. And believe me, if ecovillage manages to expand up to 10 square kilometers, some members will still choose to drive these at least 10 km from one edge of the village to another. 10 km bicycleride will take 40 minutes for average person with a load. Now imagine there is no ecovillage and you must drive 20 km to visit your closest econeighbour or 200 to your furthest. You may ask, why do we need to visit each other?

Helping each other.
This is why members of ecocommunity must visit each other even if they are not close friends. Need help to build a barn from logs or lift a heavy stone? On Saturday or even Sunday community will come together as volunteers to help those in need.

Cooperation in production.
Imagine ten small farmers with their grain fields. Everyone needs a grain harvester, grain storage, a mill, maybe even a bakery and a car to deliver bread to town. That would be quite a budget. But they could actually put their finances together, attract some support from European or national government and obtain all those things and share them. Second example. Ten farmers, everyone has five cows. All together 50 cows. But all of them can share one machine to make cream and butter. They can even have one common milk cooling tank if they sell milk to a company outside of ecovillage. The best example would be with garment produciton. Everyone could grow their own hemp on their own fields, but threshing the seeds, extracting the fibre and further processing could be organized in one workroom. And of course industrial hemp growers permit could be obtained one for all (in Latvia any kind of hemp is forbidden to grown unless special administrative procedure is passed that proves hemp doesn’t produce THC).

Trade and exchange of goods.
Would you like to have your share in ecoshop where you could not only sell, but also buy? Not a problem if there is a large ecovillage! Everyone puts his share of money, or land, building or work to set up a warehouse and marketplace. You just bring your goods to your corner and leave a pricelist and box for money. And of course anyone could serve community hours (i.e. 5 hours a week) as a shopkeeper.

Organic canteen.
One reason to live in ecocommunity is opportunity to create an ecological canteen. You would like to eat organic, but would prefer to concentrate on your work instead of shopping and food preparation? It is very important if you are an artist painting Mona Lisa or engineer in the middle of discovery of a new source of energy. Then you can contribute your finances or work in to organic canteen, where you can come and eat food prepared by professional cook from ingredients obtained in ecovillages’ warehouse.

Interaction with society.
If you have a candle, you put it on the table, not under it. Be the light of the world! As separated ecoactivists we are just esoterics and crazy fanatics in the eyes of consumerist society. They just don’t understand what are we doing and why. Because they don’t notice our small corners. If united, then any person can visit all the ecofreaks at once and see what an outstanding social system and ecosystem can be created. Society will see that we are not a sect, but quite opposite, we are open to the world and we want to make contribution to everyone’s welfare. Then the world might understand the difference between consumerist lifestyle and permaculture and notice benefits. And permaculture design can only be well observed if applied on large scale. Some species require large spaces to exist. People will see the nature in the hands of ecocommunity, that it is diverse, it is not overwhelmed by concrete, plastic and household chemistry. Nature can interact with people. Visitors will question their old values and habits then, and maybe join us or start another ecovillage somewhere, where there is still opportunity to buy land.

Starting an NGO.
Having NGO is especially good to organize common property. It will enable ecocommunity to buy common land that will be used for common facilities, i.e. alternative school, repair cafe, warehouse, natural reserve, sanctuary and so on. NGO is an opportunity to manage donations and volunteers. NGO can serve as a medium between individuals of ecocommunity and society. NGO is expensive to use and difficult to manage if it’s participants are separated by large distances.

Influence on decision making and support from local government.
Divided ecocommunity is not sharing one local government. They are spread among many administrative regions and they are incapable to influence any of them as a group.  Instead of being many unnoticed minorities in many administrative regions ecological people could be an organized interested group in one region. United ecocommunity can make a difference. They can even assign a representative to participate in municipal elections and with enough extra votes, which in case of Alūksne region is at least 150, ecocommunity can have their representative as a deputy of local government.

Alternative school.
Ecocommunity will have children. Ecological lifestyle, zero waste and permaculture principles usually are not included into public education. Public schools require vaccinations which are often not accepted by ecological families due to health risks posed by aluminum or quicksilver. Public schools in Latvia are mostly teaching encyclopedic information and very little skills. Public schools usually do not offer vegetarian food, and if they do, they do it by excluding meat from the dish without replacing it i.e. with beans or peas. Public schools rarely offer organic food to children, and if they do, then it is usually only potatoes, carrots, beetroot and apples. Public schools usually are built without use of ecological materials. Buildings are insulated with plastic, including plastic windows, resulting in little ventilation. Public schools will be most likely located far away from country home. Living in ecovillage gives it’s participants an opportunity to create their own school and solve these issues. Support from government is necessary to pay salary to teachers thus providing jobs for members of ecocommunity. To receive such support it is necessary to politically act as an organized group.

Lifelong learning center.
A place where adults can teach and learn. Most likely it will be integrated into alternative school. After graduating Alternative secondary school and entering a university, students can return on Saturdays where their former teachers will assist them in university matters like diploma paper or other type of scientific research. And of course graduates can always assist their former teachers in teaching of next generations. In other words, in ecocommunity you don’t really quit school after graduation. School is a community development center.

Zero waste center, Sustainable renovation center, Repair cafe.
Another warehouse where everyone can keep their unnecessary stuff and where everyone can search for free stuff. A place where there are containers for trash that can and cannot be recycled.

Library of books, tools and seeds.
This could be a good beginning for an alternative school. A library, where everyone could come and fetch some permaculture books, borrow a sewing machine, drill, welding tools, soldering iron or angle grinder etc. And a library where everyone could share and take seeds of carefully selected plant breeds.

Public transportation.
A common car that belongs to ecocommunity NGO. If you don’t want to own a car but you would like to borrow one time to time. A discussion group in internet could help organize people to drive together. Actually there can also be a trailer, a bus, a truck and a motorbike.

Creating religious parishes.
Usually people decide to be ecological because of respect towards the One who created this world and life on it. I suspect that significant part of ecocommunity might turn out to be religious and they might want to worship or pray together. This is another opportunity that is given by ecocommunity and cannot be exercised somewhere on a small oasis in the middle of GMO wheat desert.

Craftsmen center.
Ecocommunity is not only about growing organic food and tree hugging in a group. There are many crafts, that will be necessary to replace industrial design. Ecovillage will require blacksmith, carpenter, potter, weaver, tailor, shoemaker, baker and other types of craftsmen, most likely more than one from each. Besides warehouse for food, there could be a storage and sales room for what craftsmen produce.

Observatory.
There will not be excessive artificial lights in ecovillage. And the air will be cleaner. That means stargazing will be better possible than anywhere else. One of the facilities most likely integrated into alternative school will be observatory, where you can come and use a telescope in order to see if it is the right time for you to plant one crop or another.

Horse-riding trail

Statistics show, that modern world has much more horses than in the past, when they were the only mean of land transport, besides oxen, camels, donkeys and mules of course. In spite of that we do not see horses on the roads, except for Amish country in Ohio, United States, where there is even a special lane on the street. Hard surface is not the best for horses even with horseshoes, so you will not see a galloping Amish horserider there and anywhere else. Even country roads nowadays are suited for heavy vehicles, but stones on the surface is not the best option for animals. Horseriding trail requires sandy surface. If ecovillage has a lot of horse lovers, they might agree to join their properties with a horse riding trail. It will give opportunity to gallop and enjoy nature both for ecocommunity members and visitors. And visitors there will be, because there is lot of opportunities to horseride circles or inside a box, but there is actually almost no horseriding trails or parks where you could ride tens of kilometers without disturbing anyone and without being disturbed.

There are of course more reasons for ecology people to shorten distances between each other and cooperate. Please, comment if you know more. We are a new nation emerging out of a globalized world. Share this article if you can.

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Review on EBH341U Makita trimmer

I use Makita EBH341U trimmer (35cc 4-stroke engine), produced in 2014, to cut grass
and make hay 3 years since 2015, every year about 250 hours (25 hectares or about 50
acres), from end of May until beginning of October, so let me present you a review on
this tool. This review will not contain information about use of plastic strings as
cutting tools, because I don’t use them for “zero waste” ecology reasons. My cutting
height is about 10 cm above the ground to protect young rare plants, to avoid stones
and uneven ground and to exclude lower parts of plants in the hay. I was cutting
grass two seasons with 30 cm blade and one season with 35 cm blade. My climate is of
Baltic Sea Region, location – Latvia. Price of Makita ebh341u is up to 350 EUR.

Makita EBH431 trimmer has a standard use and a “lifehack” use, which significantly
improves it’s performance over users safety and canceling the warranty, which is not
valid for most important parts of the trimmer anyway. Standard use is 30 cm star
blade with blade guard. Lifehack use is removing the plastic blade guard, because
blade guard also serves as a mulching tool. Mulching requires extra power from your
trimmer, so if you remove blade guard, then this power is released, which means
trimmer cuts grass easier, with less engine rounds per minute and grass almost never
is stuck between the blade and the trimmer. More power and no blade guard means you
can afford a 35 cm blade (usually used on) to be installed instead of 30 cm blade.
Changing blades from 30 cm to 35 cm will double the work speed and increase power
that is applied towards grass, which is very important in beginning of autumn.

Trimmers with 4 stroke engines vs 2 stroke engines.
People say, that 4-stroke engines are more quiet compare to 2 stroke. I would rather
say that the noise of 4-stroke engine is of lower timbre than 2-stroke. But it is
still very loud and protective earphones are very necessary. 4-stroke engine of
course keeps the engine oil inside compare with 2-stroke, which is polluting the air,
therefore I must say that machines with 2-stroke engines should be given to museums
or to a scrap metal collectors. During these 3 years of very intensive use I never
experienced drop of oil level in the engine and that is a good indicator of quality.

Standard use (30 cm blade):
– inject gear grease after every 30 hours (3 hectares), run-in (first time when you
must discard engine oil, faster than usual) of engine is 5 hours.
– change motor oil 60 ml every 5 hectares.
– fuel consumption in July and August – 6 liters of gasoline per hectare.
– fuel tank 0,6 liters lasts from 45 minutes on high RPM up to 1 hour and 30 minutes
with low RPM, i.e. in the middle of June (northern hemisphere).

Lifehack use (35 cm blade and no blade guard)
– inject gear grease after every 30 hours (5 hectares),
– change motor oil 60 ml every 50 hours (10 hectares). I did not use 35 cm blade for
run-in of engine and maybe it is a good idea to use 30 cm blade with first 5 hours (5
or 6 fuel tanks) of work with trimmer.
– fuel consumption in June and July – 3 liters of gasoline per hectare.
– fuel tank 0,6 liters lasts from 45 minutes to 1 hour. 35 cm blade is heavier and
consumes more fuel even with small RPM.

Damages during 3 years that I had:
1. Hip guard is rubbing the shaft surface. I solved the problem by attaching used
rubber, i.e. bicycle tire inner tubes in places of rubbing. It is also nice now to
transport trimmer by bicycle, because rubber is helping to put trimmer on bicycle
handle.

2. Handle broke after two years of use, but it’s construction gives opportunity to
fix the problem on site. The cracked place had to be put right in the middle of the
fastening bolt. No replacement was necessary and I keep on using the same handle ever
since, though I am more careful and do not allow myself very sharp moves in the
massive grass.

3. Mice chewed on gasoline hose. One night I left the trimmer in bushes and next
morning I discovered that mice made a hole in one of the hoses. It was possible to
fix the issue by cutting away the hose and pulling it a bit out of the gas tank. It
did not affect the working time because the gasoline hose is long. No replacement was
necessary.

4. Gear/head case should be inspected and cleaned from sand and grass. Otherwise sand
will ruin it and it will start to catch more and more grass until it will be
impossible to work. I had to order a new gear case for 70 EUR. I still use the old
one in June and July, when grass is soft and does not trend to wind around the gear
case. I also used the old gear case with the 20 cm saw blade to cut brush.

5.Star blade. If you plant to use trimmer also in August and September, you must
understand, that grass gets harder and harder with each day after summer solstice.
Usually cutting grass does not require sharpening the blade until the end of July
(northern hemisphere). Starting from August blade will require sharpening after every
4 engine tanks. I use 115 mm angle grinder to sharpen the blade. Instruction manual
says that you must do the sharpening at a specialized workshop – forget about it, it
is cheaper to sharpen yourself and get yourself a new blade as soon as it starts to
shrink in diameter. If you meet the big stone, see if you have vibrations afterwards
– if yes, then the blade is misshaped and needs to be replaced.

6. Strap belt hook got broken after 3 years of intensive use. I replaced it with a
usual medium size karabiner.

Other suggestions and notes:
I suggest you to own an extra new blade and compare it with the one that you use and
sharpen. As soon as the blade gets too small, then it will consume more time and fuel
to cut the grass. When I bought a trimmer, it was not supplied with 35 cm blade and
gear grease. Fortunately it was supplied with engine oil in 120 ml container, just
enough for run-in 5 hours and next 50 hours. So you might need extra engine oil. It
was not supplied with any ear and eye protection, so if you don’t have a helmet with
earphones and face net, then you will need it. These are things that you can order at
once together with Makita EBH341U trimmer. If you remove blade guard, splitters will
definitely fly at you, so you will need to put the trousers over the boots and wear
clothing that protects you from splitters and stones. Leather jacket will ease the
strap belt pressure on your shoulders. It is very important to regulate the strap
belt so that it is easy for you to swing the trimmer. For me keeping the straps as
tight as possible is the best solution. Spark plug is excellent – I still use the
original and never had to replace it during 3 years (750 hours). I am not the most
careful user and you must take into account that I met many objects with a blade,
even big unmovable stones, nevertheless trimmer still works fine. Vibrations – yes,
there are vibrations, especially I can feel them on the small rounds, and dotted
gloves help a bit.

In conclusion I must say that I am very happy to own Makita EBH341U trimmer and it is
a great helper in a small farm capable to replace a tractor. To be honest, it
actually saved my farm from bankruptcy. However I look forward to the new generation
of more ecological trimmers powered by electricity, not gasoline.

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Kā atkal izmantot iepakojuma gumijas. How to reuse package rubbers.

Ja esat Zero Waste piekritējs un, piemēram, pērkat Dole bio banānus, tad noteikti ir iekrājušās mazās gumijas, ar kurām iepakojums aiztaisīts.

Viens no veidiem, kā gumijas izmantot, ir dažādu elektrības vadu labošana. Piemēram, šeit ir atjaunots korpuss salauztam micro usb lādētāja konektoram. Šīs gumijas šajā gadījumā ir krietni vieglāk uzlikt nekā izolācijas lentu.

If you support Zero Waste lifestyle and buy products which packages are sealed with small rubber, then here is a small tip how to reuse them. If you have broken electronics, rubbers in some cases might be useful to perform a repair. On a picture you see a fixed broken connector of a micro usb loader.

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How to make hay without tractor

This article will be useful, if you own up to 20 ha of land and want to keep grazing animals, but you cannot afford a tractor. I am located in Latvia and am not aware if this method will be useful in other climates.

Buy a trimmer/brushcutter Makita EBH341 or similar. It has 4 tact engine, which means trimmer is not polluting environment with engine oil, and there is also smaller fuel consumption and less noise. Price is about 350 EUR. Try to chose the one equipped with star blade. Continue reading

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Aicinājums veidot ekokopienu

Aicinu ikvienu videi, dabai un veselībai saudzīga (ekoloģiska) dzīvesveida piekritēju vai atbalstītāju piebiedroties man ekokopienas un ekociemata veidošanā Alūksnes ezera apvidū.

Piedāvāju:

Continue reading

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Trash (waste) site fires in Latvia continue. Second big fire 2017.

Second trash site this year (2017) is set on fire in Latvia. This time it is in Brocēnu region, Remte.

I will update this entry with links to the news sites:

Latvian social media on Remte fire. There is no open flame, so we must suppose higher toxicity of the smoke.

 

 

 

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A lot of plastic waste openly burn in Latvia

People in the world. Please share this information, so that at some point it reaches European Commission or other European institution upon which the Republic of Latvia is dependent as a member state of EU.

There is really a lot of trash burning in Latvia. Mostly it is plastic. Individuals burn in their yards. Enterprises burn in their areas and facilities. Government is not acting enough. Only clean PET and HDPE bottles are accepted as recyclable plastic. There is no deposit system for accepting used bottles in exchange for coins. There is no additional tax for plastic packaged goods. There is not enough action to collect plastic in the environment. Is there no European Regulation that obliges member states to reduce landfill and emissions?

I propose that EU member states that do not have a well operating waste management and recycling system receive less emission quotes and are forbidden to sell their emission quotes.

Click here to see an article with photos on major plastic fire in Latvia.

LETA article. Dangerous fire in Jurmala started at illegal waste dump

Dumpsite fire sends choking smoke over Latvia’s seaside resort

 

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