Once again, we are delighted to honour the very special memory of Hildur Jackson, and to celebrate her legacy by featuring incredible projects around the world, and infusing some resources into some of them.
This year’s most outstanding project is Kufunda Village in Zimbabwe!
Kufunda was founded almost 20 years ago as a place of learning, where people could recover their sense of pride, diversity, and capacity in working with their knowledge to create a healthy and vibrant community.
Their work focuses on three main areas: Community, including the inner work and learning to come together for a shared vision; Land, expanding the permaculture work to integrate biodynamic practice, and Education, running a Waldorf-inspired school at the village alongside other programmes.
The HJA will enable Kufunda to offer 2 week-long Go Deep processes in two Zimbabwean partner communities. Go Deep is an award winning, process-based game that brings together groups of people to work in community. In this process the participants learn about themselves, about their communities and get new skills about the facilitation of human relations and communities, communication, and different perspectives and resources that, after the game can be applied in their daily life.
The Kufunda team shared that each time they have played this game, polarities in the communities are overcome, and practical intentions continue to manifest the outcomes for months and even years later.
Here are the finalists this year.
Quinta Esencia (Argentina) has a vision to produce, model, teach and spread information related to sustainable practices. The Center applied an educational model for learning, integrating mind, body, and spirit, reconciling humans and nature, to accelerate the great turning towards a new civilization that sustains life. The project, declared of educational interest by the Ministry of Education and Development of Argentina, has an integrative bioregional view, aiming to protect the district’s natural resources, provide access to clean water, and more efficiently manage water usage. Quinta Esencia suggests a new socio-economic model that focuses on environmental protection, sustainable living, and overall well-being for people.
Green Releaf Initiative (Philippines) works to transform the narrative of disaster risk reduction into designing for resilience, addressing future social, cultural, economic, and ecological shocks. Over the last years, the organisation has been prototyping permaculture gardens as a recovery and prevention approach for disasters and displacement. As the Philippines continues to face more and more climate emergencies, the aim is to bring regenerative initiatives for collaboration together to scale efforts and help catalyze solutions. The project looks to weave community-led actions and integrated solutions, such as local mapping and activities to provide food security, water, sanitation, health, well-being, protection, livelihood, and shelter in disruptive times.
Boekel Ecovillage (Netherlands) is proud of working on all 17 SDGs, helping to showcase a sustainable way of living as they built a self-supporting village when it comes to energy, water and food, also stimulating people to embody a healthy lifestyle. They received sustainable building awards for innovative technology, getting the attention of the Dutch media and government. Boekel adjusted the decision-making system of Holacracy, which they called Holarchy, for organising themselves with speed and flexibility. They plan to make a masterclass on the subject to assist other Ecovillages. They are also working on biodiversity and restoration by caring for water, collecting, reusing, and returning it clean back to the land.
Semilla de Mares (Mexico) started in August 2021 and have already planted over 1000 plants of 30+ varieties of medicinals and 100+ trees using regenerative agriculture, best known as syntropic agroforestry. They are actively regenerating an 8 hectare reserve, providing the local community with social and environmental tools. Their seed bank has collected over 100 species of endemic plants. Their workshops have reached almost 70 people, weaving awareness, art, networking, and capacity building. In addition, they are supporting the implementation of social inclusive models that provide circular economy for nearby towns, while acknowledging local traditions and conducting research to stimulate the perseverance of ancestral ways. There is a lot planned for their future as well, including this month starting anthropological studies to identify and document the wisdom keepers of the medicinal plant kingdom.
Lost Valley Educational Center & Meadowsong Ecovillage (Oregon, USA) has upgraded their curriculum, instructor cadre, and on-site infrastructure to enrich and refine their offerings. This includes a three month residential course for up to 20 students who also earn the Ecovillage Design Education Certificate as well as the Permaculture Design Certificate. To complement, students participate in and learn about community life and governance experientially every day. In addition, Lost Valley has hosted a Permaculture Teacher Training, a weekend workshop called “Back to the Roots,” and weekly community education classes.
Mangwende Orphan Care Trust (Zimbabwe) started in 2015 as an orphanage and has now emerged as a permaculture centre, which has enabled the community to regain a sense of belonging and pride in their traditional value. They are improving livelihoods and inspiring reconnection, protection, and regeneration. Traditional thatched huts for orphans and visitors are being erected and solar panels and drip irrigation were installed on the farm. An abundant harvest was finally achieved from the diverse crops. A wild zone is now established to encourage natural land restoration and biodiversity. Neighbouring villagers have also benefited from capacity building, employment, and resource distribution. One youth member is currently studying at the Fambidzanai Permaculture Institute and in collaboration with the Harare Institute of Technology.
Proyecto Yum Kaax (Mexico) is transforming their whole land into a natural reserve, ecovillage, and learning-retreat center. They are also open to new members! Regenerating ecosystems, rehabilitating infrastructure with local organic materials (bamboo/adobe) into an off grid ecohostel, developing food autonomy, and allowing community life to emerge are the main priorities of this new project. The space has welcomed about 100 volunteers and 400 local visitors within this first year.
D E S development and empowerment of society (Kenya) serves their community through a child programme as well as initiatives supporting small businesses. Despite the daily challenges, they have enhanced their community-based work, especially after representatives participated in the GEN online EDE, thanks to a generous sponsor. They continue to bring together camp residents from all countries and tribes to overcome hardships and find inspiration in ecovillage principles.
Suderbyn Ecovillage & NGO Relearn (Sweden) is evolving a new culture that has developed over the last 14 years influenced by GEN and the many residents and visitors that pass through. They have allied with the Deep Adaptation Forum to create a new long-term perspective about the state of the Earth’s climate and environment and the inevitable change on humanity that has already begun. Suderbyn is a container for dynamic and vibrant discussion and action regarding regenerative human cultural practices. A youth-oriented learning and living center – the place as often being the first door for young people into the Ecovillage world, allowing people without much experience and financial assets to come and connect to their purpose and find their action for this world. Suderbyn has its own gardens and workshops to be self-reliant as well as a food circle, car pool, bike pool and of course room rentals along with the thriving educational centre. Via its NGO RELEARN, Suderbyn runs numerous international solidarity and nature protection projects in the Baltic Sea region as well as in Russia, West Asia and North Africa. This year, in cooperation with the Gotland County Administrative Board, they established a wild bee meadow which is specially landscaped and planted for a specific local endangered bee found on their property. Suderbyn actively strives to be inclusive to help persons with fewer opportunities to come spend time there, including immigrant youths for internships.
Terra Frutis (Ecuador) is a small homesteading project in the tropics that just celebrated 8 years. They currently have openings for new members! They contribute to social regeneration by prioritising the health and well-being of each individual that comes to their community. Everyone is encouraged and supported to strive towards emotional and physical healthy lifestyles. They address cultural regeneration by collaborating with and employing indigenous people in safe and meaningful work, which allows them to respect their ancestral roots. Economic regeneration is enriched by creating jobs for local people in agriculture, construction, and events, enabling them alternative options from gold mining. Terra Frutis also brings a lot of people to the area, which supports the tourist industry. And feeding ecological regeneration, Terra Frutis prioritises soil health in their reforestation approach. By planting pinto peanut, ice cream bean and other legumes, nitrogen is fixed in the soil. They are working on making their own biogas and starting to implement a greywater bioremediation area.