Arriving in Suderbyn
It was the beginning of Winter 2017 when I applied to volunteer for four months in Suderbyn Permacutlure Ecovillage in Sweden. I felt the subconscious urge to come back to this gem after I coincidentally discovered it that same year while biking through Sweden. In the summer I just spent around 5 days there, leaving a stronger impression on me than I could have imagined.
I arrived the night before Halloween, together with a lovely family from Australia who I just met and directly connected with. We had such a warm welcome. I was overwhelmed by how fast you can feel comfortable surrounded by more or less strangers. Almost the whole community was still awake and it was like a party in main house, since on this same day some of the community members had also come back from travels. The first night my room situation wasn’t solved yet, so I was staying the night with Sergey Lutschenko, who already felt like a close friend at this point, since I knew him back from planting potatoes together during my summer visit. The day after we received a tour around the property and spent some quality time as a community preparing for another celebration in the evening.
Being Part of the Community
On Monday we started the day all together, with a morning meeting to see how everyone was doing and to distribute the work tasks that had to be taken on. I chose some hand-on work assisting the construction of the biogas digester, which is part of the Closed Loop Baltic project. The idea is to use the biological waste produced in the community to generate biogas while using the nutrient water which is left to feeds the plants in aeroponic pipes. It’s a really fascinating project, one of many they are planning and building. The community lunch was prepared daily by whoever felt like cooking, which provides a huge variety of different cultural foods, mostly vegan and in consideration of any allergies depending on who’s currently living there. I had the impression that I was very integrated in the community within the first week. This made it more difficult when the people left, because you already felt pretty close to them.
The winter was colder than the years before, and days became pretty short outside, so we had to use all the sun hours to prepare the garden beds for the next year and finish the parts of the CLB project.The less time you can work outside the more the community comes together in the house. Even if the winter was cold, people were always warm-hearted and had a great time with community activities inside. The time went by pretty fast, weeks felt like days, so my time there came to an end earlier than I would have wanted it to.
I met a lot of inspiring people who are involved with GEN, so I felt drawn to it as well, which is the reason why I left to educate myself on a deeper level about GEN before I will move back to Suderbyn. My day of departure felt more difficult than I could have imagined; it was an intense experience, which I will honour and never forget.