Issues in connection with climate change have become an everyday topic in media. While some years ago a greater mass of leading scientists did not want to openly take sides in this question, now more and more studies come to light that declare that global climate crisis is not a question but a fact. These studies urge international steps and cooperation.
All of us can feel the effects of climate change: we see extreme weather conditions, we hear about natural disasters and we also see the rapidly increasing price of food. We listen to or watch the news about riots emerging because of hunger from a number of countries.
Leading scientists on sustainability got to the conclusion that the only proper answers to these crises could come from self-sufficient farm communities. Their common stand is that all human beings should reduce their need, reduce consumption, but the best solution would be if people themselves would start cultivating the land. If we produce our food, then we will not be defenseless to the global food provisioning system. Furthermore, we will know exactly what we eat: we can use ecological methods to produce food, we can pick fresh vegetables and naturally enriched foodstuffs. Beside all this, we will not contribute to the maintanance of nature devastating intensive agriculture and to the unnecessary transportation of foodstuffs. Everyone should make effort to have at least a little vegetable garden.
But the complex and long term solution is more than this. It is when village communities are joining and working together. The strength is there in the cooperative, regional communities. In Hungary Krishna-valley was established 20 years ago as part of the ISKCON farm communities. This project presents us with an alternative as how to tackle not only environmental problems, but also pressing social and economic problems. The community, which is a village-size experiment involving 150 volunteers, has built up a full range agricultural system. As part of the extensive organic gardening the farm has vegetable and fruit gardens, grain fields, a cow protection center and an apiary. It is astonishing how little land is enough to provide food for 150 people: 8-8 acre vegetable and fruit garden, 6 acre of grain fields, and 125 acre of forest can provide enough firewood to the whole community.
The farm has a wide range of experience how cow manure can be used to increase the soil’s fertility and productivity of the plants. In the fields productivity is enhanced by coupling different plants, so that they give shelter to each other from different insects and to be more productive and also how one can use herbal extracts to make plants more resistant. Also there are projects to improve ox-work and use them on grain fields to give up petrol and other supply needed for maintaining tractors and other machinery, as well as how it is possible to get milk from heifers (cows that never had calves) and to have fat-rich milk from pleased and happy cows. Furthermore, there is research in relation to those plants that can adapt to dryer, warmer weather due to climate change and what can be grown productively in smaller plots.
Wells at the houses provide safe, sufficient and pure drinking water, the reed-bed zone sewage system is environment friendly and gives independence from public utilities. Simple life close to mother earth does not need endless amount of electricity. Solar panels and small size windmills are sufficient to provide the basic needs of families. Candles and other oil-based lamps can also be used in houses for lighting. Firewood is used for the heating, as wood is a renewable energy source. The health care system of the community is based on Ayurveda, a holistic approach to body, spirit and soul. The main focus is on prevention – proper nutrition, lifestyle and natural medicine.
The village has become a well known experiment internationally. Its aim is to emphasize sustainability on every level of life. The goal is to reach full range self-sufficiency and experience sharing to broad audiences. For this purpose the community established a Foundation called Applied Ecological Sustainability Research Institute (formerely the Sustainability Sciences Research Institute) in 2007. Through the Eco Valley programme (EVP) – the main programme of the foundation – the community is in collaboration with research institutes, universities, colleges, intellectual workshops, NGOs and leader scientists. The EVP is developing dinamically. The number of participants, the number of running and planned projects are rapidly increasing. The incomparable international collaboration programmes are giving opportunity to answer complex ecological-economic-social questions.
The residents of the eco-village practice self-sufficiency in everyday life through their social- and individual life considering ecologic, economic, and social sustainability. Fellow researchers, NGOs contribute to the project with their own research and projects in different fields like education, eco-tourism, gardening, etc. Their aim is to do different research programmes to be able to synthetize the results and to propagate it to a wide range of audiences including the world of leading scientists. The EVP includes scientific conferences, establishing a network of educational centers, educational courses, versatile communication so that other communities could start developing their own self-sufficient farming communities. Besides this EVP gathers information and experience through organizing study tours, members of the EVP regularly participate in conferences and maintain international relations as well.
Members of the EVP are ready to receive volunteers and to share experience in the field of applied ecological sustainability.