As published in See Change Magazine September 5 2012 www.seechangemagazine.com
You may not know that just outside of Vancouver, in a sleeping giant of a town called Yarrow, is an up and coming superstar neighbourhood attracting international attention. The Yarrow Ecovillage has had inquiries from as far away as Nigeria and India about their ecovillage model. This group of determined individuals have banded together to create their own ideal neighbourhood.
Their 28 acre site includes a community farm, two cohousing communities, and a two-acre commercial area on the main road that will revitalize the already walkable town of Yarrow. It is about sustainability, community, and supporting local organic farmers. But who lives at an ecovillage? Vivian Vaillant, pictured below, shares her own photos of some of the people she is proud to call her neighbours.
With seven units left in Groundswell Intergenerational Cohousing and the planning stages for Elderberry Commons Adult Cohousing underway this fall, there might be room for you too!
Vivian Vaillant (Stay at home Mom) and husband Paul (Engineer) moved their three children from Edmonton to live in what they call the best of all worlds. With schools, restaurants, and the library all walking distance from the ecovillage they feel satisfied with their one-mile lifestyle. She shares her neighbourhood with us here.
To illustrate what makes an ecovillage, above is a picture of the same piece of land cut up three ways. 1. A typical farm with one house. 2. What modern developers would do to get 29 homes onto the same land. 3. The "ecovillage" concept, homes situated close together around common facilities leaving open space for farming, wildlife, and in the case of the Yarrow Ecovillage, a two-acre commercial development along the main traffic road of Yarrow.
Cohousing Communities tend to live together as neighbours, enjoying several community dinners per week. In this case, alfresco. The difference between community dinner and pot luck? At pot luck everyone brings a dish, meaning we all work to make supper. A community dinner involve one or two people cooking for the rest of the community. While some families opt out, the ecovillagers enjoy as many as three community dinners per week. Excellent life style for busy farmers and stay at home moms who like a break from their own cooking.
All but the watermelon of this scrumptious feast was grown locally. Most of which came from our community farm.
Architect Charles Durrett, cohousing guru and lead on the Yarrow Ecovillage design, believes in front porches to facilitate community. Here, Mimi (life coach), Cheryl (registered nurse), and Rosemary (traveler) enjoy iced tea and some company on a hot day.
Joel (a teacher) is father to two of the five boys gathered here on his front porch. He is reading Spider Man. The more the merrier in this village. While parents own separate homes and all have unique parenting styles, there is a certain joy in moments like this one. Children grow up here feeling loved and appreciated by many adults. And parents support each other by swapping child care, parenting tips, and toys.
Ann, an artist, bicycles with Kelly, one of the beloved dogs at the village. Kelly and the other dogs at the ecovillage enjoy more freedom than in a normal community. While owners are very careful to properly integrate their animals into the community, dogs like Kelly are able to be off leash much more than normal, and are appreciated by the children from a respectful distance.
Nevin and his wife Shauna live in Groundswell Cohousing and lease affordable farmland in the 20 acres community farm attached to the property. They grow organic market veggies and cooperate to run a successful CSA program for Chilliwack and Abbotsford. For Nevin, Organic farming is like breathing...he couldn't live without it. He feels fortunate to have found a place where farm land is secure and affordable. More farmers wanted! Interested? Give us a call and we'll see what we can do!
Neighbours Mathew (program manager for Hope International Development Agency) and Paul (Student of Theology) search for their queen bee in the Permaculture Food Forest. Their hobby bees are crucial for the farmers in the area. What a sweet contribution to our simple living!
One of these kids is not like the others. Her name is Angel and she and her sister are pets to a family at the village. The children have taught the goats to slide down the ramp for treats. At this time Groundswell Intergenerational Cohousing is home to 17 children, 30 adults, 37 chickens, four dogs, three cats, two goats, trillions of bees, and a bearded dragon. At full build out we expect to be double that. The Adult Living Cohousing Project will be home to 17 more amazing adults keen to age in place (slowly) and have fun doing it.
New to the village this year is The Farm Stand, operated by a group of villagers who are sprouting the seed for the front commercial area. Right now, The Farm Stand focuses primarily on augmenting the CSA (Community supported Agriculture) pick up with other delicious food items. More artisan items arrive every week at this grassroots market.
Weekly CSA is available from our community farm for $20-$40 per week. Pictured here are chard, turnip, broccoli, cabbage, green mix, and heritage baby potatoes. Buried below are garlic and purple carrots. Don't know how to cook something? Our farmers kick off every CSA year with a recipe book full of descriptions and ideas for all the delights planned for the year.
While some of us are lucky enough to work onsite, many of us still commute to work. We still drive our children to soccer, and we still have to rely on the standard supermarkets for much of our groceries. We are just doing our best everyday to make attainable changes in our life style and we find support from our neighbours in doing that. We are practical minded people. Neighbours determined to be good neighbours. And while not everything always goes as planned when building a dream neighbourhood, we are extremely proud of how far we have come. Want to know more? Tours are offered every other saturday (book in advance). http://www.yarrowecovillage.ca