As an old newcomer in Suderbyn my re-experience with the food made me think about how the food system here is the very example of innovation in adversity. Not that there is adversity in terms of what we eat at all. The adversity I am talking about is something I see, coming back from being able to pick anything up at the store, to living in a place that focuses on local, organic food. In Suderbyn we grow as much as we can with permaculture gardening methods and the rest we buy seasonally from as local and as sustainable providers as possible. The adversity that I am talking about comes when you let your geographic location and the seasons determine what you eat; options are limited. And not only that, but sometimes, food finishes.
But magic happens when you bring together +20 people from all over the world with different food cultures in the luggage. And wauw, there are no limits to what you can create with the same vegetables if you just let your different community members go wild in the kitchen.The same ingredients can turn out in so many unexpected ways, and it tastes too-good-to-be true.
And what more can you dream of than organic food, full of goodness and nutrition, as local as possible. Hmmm, and Vegan too. It defines the authentic, the quality and the ideals of the community in its truest form, and if the taste wasn’t something to talk about, I wouldn’t, but it is. Just the other day I had the most fantastic pesto made from carrot tops. SO good!
I think it has something to do with the fact that everyone gets a turn to cook not so often, and when they do, a lot of effort and love goes into the cooking process. I mean we are up to 20 people in the community right now, sometimes more! So about a 3 week rotation period. Not only that but a magical “kitchen angel” comes to clean your mess after you are done cooking. Its fantastic!
So to summarise, no guilt, no fuss, authentic, quality food, that is made with local goods and by people who are really into creating something great for the community.
We work hard and play hard here in Suderbyn, and part of the playing is enjoying a good meal with one another. The innovation in food is shown by the silly beautiful things that happen here, just the other day, the coffee press lost its head, that you use to press down, and only a metal stick protruding out is now there, everybody uses different things but Robert used a zucchini end. What a moment!
Heddas and Annas baking is legendary in Suderbyn, fantastic pancakes every Sunday, Fika cakes, and fresh bread! Pesto, nettle soup, bean burgers, Indian food, tofu rolls, Indian food, fresh home made oat milk, kombucha, and the list goes on.
I guess you will have to come and visit to find out!
- Menakshi Malik
There’s a lot to be sceptical of when it comes to awards. It almost always feels nice to be recognised for something, but it’s important to remember what being recognised, or getting an award can really mean.
Some people win awards that, looking back, perhaps shouldn’t have. Did you know Hitler won TIME’s person of the year in 1938? His economic policies were benefitting the German economy, and his populism was bringing (particular) demographics together. The anti-Jewish rhetoric? Oh, everyone’s a little bit racist and no one’s perfect!
Milton Friedman was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for his advocacy and government consultation of free market economics. Our globalised, privatised economic system with its unfathomable wealth disparity and ecological-limit breaking ruthless focus on growth (neo-liberalism) can be argued to have stemmed directly from Friedman and the influence of his Chicago School. We may have given our civilisation’s most prized awards to one of it’s forerunning horsemen.
Hell, there might come a point when we look at Obama’s Nobel Peace prize and go, “wait, didn’t that guy deport more immigrants than all previous presidents, as well as Trump, AND intensify drone warfare in the Middle East which killed, like, a heck-ton of civillians, destroyed families and further increased resentment, hatred and distrust towards Western hegemony rather than doing anything to actually end the conflict and restabilise the region?” …
I mean… That point might come. Just sayin’.
There are fantastic projects and people who will never be recognised by an official body because they’re unlucky, or because their work isn’t economically viable, or is ahead of the zeitgeist. It’s just like in life: we don’t always get what we want. We’re not always seen or understood. Housework can go unnoticed, emotional labour unappreciated, the cleaners, care givers, bin collectors and farmers of our societies will not be recognised for their essential contributions to our lives, health and functioning of our societies.
No, we’re not always seen or understood, but should we even aim to be?
Some forms of recognition can be entirely disingenuous and self serving. Get your recognition, now you’re done, you’ve made it! You can stop now! This is often seen in corporate or governmental awards where recognition of meagre “green” activities are a way to maintain public image for the next quarter. On an individual level, I think of the winners of TV talent shows. They get recognised for their tear-jerking story and people pleasing performance, release an album that gets the Christmas no. 1 before being quickly and quietly sacrificed to the fickle elder Gods of rapidly shifting public opinion.
Even deserved and seemingly well intentioned awards can often be a way to defuse the radical nature of the work. For this one I think about Gretha Tunberg’s attitude towards awards. It’s either, “Alright, give me the money, this is going to people who need it”, or an outright rejection, “I need a future, not an award. Ecological collapse hasn’t gone away just because of this feelgood cabal of self-congratulation.”
Perhaps an award should never be seen as an expression of finality but rather exactly what it is: A subjective recognition that might provide social/economic benefit, bestowed by a small group of people whose authority on any particular subject might be less authoritative, or less genuine, than we might initially think. So what is this award to Suderbyn?
A hollow gesture made by green growthers?
A cynical attempt by an organisation to promote their agenda?
A psy-op campaign designed to incorporate Suderbyn into the “institution” in order to disarm any of its radical change making potential!?
I don’t really believe in any of them in this case. What I am certain of however is that whilst it’s nice to be recognised for our work it is far more important to recognise how much work there still is to do.
- Evelyn Carr
We even made a video to commemorate the occasion. It doesn't necessarily connect with why we won the award but hey. Check it out!
This one was actually sown as a green manure that we were planning to turn in to improve the soil... And well, when you forget to turn in a green manure, it just continues its life and grows to its full potential and eventually gives seeds! (This is probably the only existing case of productive procrastination.)
Food wise, rye is often ignored or limited to crackers and dark bread, which is a shame since it is a very nutritious cereal and healthier than wheat in many regards.
Actually, the grain is not the only yield here. The straw - the dried stem of the plant - is also an excellent source of food...for the soil! Straw contains proportionally more carbon than hay, which is dried grass or legumes. Straw is therefore a perfect ingredient for soil building as a mulch or in compost, especially when combined with more nitrogen rich elements such as urine, grass clippings, certain manures, food waste etc.
Returning homegrown straw to the soil is an essential part of the the simple and balanced cycle created by the farmer-philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka. He understood more than everyone that growing food implies giving back to the Earth after taking from her. Indeed, even though the grain took some nutrients from the soil, most of its food came from the sun and the air, unlimited and renewable sources. At the end, it's a net gain for the soil, especially when all the nutrients are kept in the loop, with compost toilets and straw back to the land.
Recent cultivars of grain are very often shorter which results in faster harvests and easier processing, but also less straw, which is not regarded as an essential biproduct anymore. (Our rye on this picture reaches up to 175 cm!).
This perspective illustrates the contemporary misunderstanding of the needs of our soils. Synthetic fertilizers, mineral powders, diluted juices and far-imported fertility, intended to feed the plants directly, cannot replace local whole foods such as straw, hay, compost or manure when it comes to feeding the soil on the long term. The narrowly scientific, productivity oriented approach cannot match the holistic perspective that encourages a constant flow of nutrients and energy from soil to plants, from plants to humans and animals, and back to the soil.
After threshing the grain out of the huls and off the straw, we will take back this small sheaf to our soil, and "the cycle won't be broken!"
These are the stories which change the world and show us what is possible...
We have a magician in our ecovilage. His name is Théo. With his long tale of dreadlocks, humble and kind heart, and magic hands Théo is a unique producer of chocolate of a special kind. Shipped by friends on an original sailing boat "Tres Hombres" from across the ocean, the cacao beans come straight from a small farm of a local ecosystem restoration project in Dominican Republic. They come with the wind of salty sea, without fossil fuels and international cargo companies. Théo picks the beans in Amsterdam and brings them home – to our ecovillage Suderbyn on the island of Gotland. Here Théo recently moved his little chocolate factory, where he makes the chocolate by hand from bean to bar without any preservatives, all vegan and organic as it only can be. He wraps the precious bars in paper made of cacao-shells. The chocolate is then sent to small organic shops and personally to people who subscribe online (the link below). Every time we look at a bar of Théo's chocolate, be it one with cacao nibs or hazelnut, or raw dark chocolate, I think of the wind in Tres Hombres sales, of a long way which a real fair chocolate needs to make, and all the goodness this small bar contains.
Chocolate is not only a delicious treat, oh no. Cacao beans are medicinal in its nature. Commercial companies which turned chocolate into a sugar-rich candy based on child slavery and oil industry, committed not only an economic and environmental crime, but a cultural crime.
The real chocolate, like one which Théo makes, is a special product, as something from across the ocean is to be. A bar of this handcrafted chocolate is not comparable to a box of commercial chocolate when it comes to the content of goodness. Fair-trade, organic, slavery-free, vegan, healthy goodness brought to our continent by Fairtransport and processed by Theó's loving hands.
You can subscribe on Théo's website KakaoArbo.net to receive this incredible handcrafted, truly fair-trade chocolate and be a part of that change. For now easy delivery is offered to all Scandinavia. You can also read more about the values and philosophy behind, the sourcing and bean-to-bar process. (See the link in the first comment to the post.)
These stories change the world, and they shall be told. Join by subscribing for the chocolate but also do spread the word, share, tell, and let people choose.
The first wild greens are poking through! These last weeks, ramson, ground elder, nettles and many others have been busy covering the land with her spring jacket.
Walking around and picking these fresh and healthy goodies is a great source of seasonal joy for Suderbynians. A bit before our own garden starts to give its first real harvests, Nature's supermarket opened its doors and provided for us. (When you have to work to get your own food growing, it is easy to appreciate something tasty that grows on its own and that you just need to pick!)
But it's not only that we appreciate the amazing healthiness, the colors and flavors of the wild greens in our soups, spreads and teas.. They are also a reminder of our need to connect with the wild, to be in it, to be it.
Picking wild plants forces you to know and understand them, their landscape, their ecosystem (mistakes can be deadly!) and eventually reintegrate ourselves in the Natural world. Foraging is an amazing platform to reconnect with the nature in ourselves and realize how much we need to become natural beings again.
When you think about it, it is actually a pretty clever design trick from Mother Nature to include a bait in the landscape. To encourage humans to wander in the woods and in the plains, just to get them to wonder in awe at the perfection of such a creation.
Thanks JingwenYao Art for capturing this beautiful moment! ❤️
In Suderbyn, we only use compost toilets. Three weeks ago, our middle latrine compost box finished its decomposition process of roughly 12 months. During this period, various microorganisms and bugs actively ate, pooped, reproduced and died, turning human feaeces, leaves, sawdust and toilet paper into a well balanced rich compost!
The pile heated up to 55-60 degrees, at which dangerous bacteria such as Ecoli and Salmonella get killed.
After taking out the compost from its box, we will spread it on the fields where "heavy feeders" (plants that need a loooot of nutrients) will grow.
Even though we are 99% sure that all the nasty bacteria that we don't want in our food died, we are still careful: the plants that will grow in this compost, like corn and pumpkins, will produce their edible part away from the soil and since these bacteria cannot travel through the plant body, the only way to get contaminated by a potential survivor would be to eat something that got splashed with compost still containing harmful bacteria and that didn't get washed properly. Very unlikely, especially if one considers that such bacteria are in a hostile environment as soon as they get out of our bellies and that if they don't die in the compost, the other beings in our lively soil will surely take care of them mercilessly.
By now, you should probably be convinced that compost toilets are an hygienic, simple and efficient way to process humanure on site and turn it into a resource.
Sounds a tiny bit better than mixing poo with 10 liters of drinking water (especially on an island like Gotland suffering from water scarcity in the summer), disinfecting with chemicals and releasing it into rivers, knowing that many heavy metals and hormones will poison the wildlife...and maintain a costly sewage system for this.
But composting humanure is much more than this. It's our connection to the land, the way we close the loop and remind ourselves that we are animals.
It's a sacred cycle that allows us to make atoms travel from plants to humans to microorganisms and back to plants in a never-ending magical loop.
From this unique perspective, humans of Suderbyn acquire a new function: processing units turning plants into food for bacteria! It might sound a bit reductionist but it is actually a way to reintegrate ourselves in the complex web of life, as one humble step in a perfect system.
And from this humble soil we sprout as happy stewards of the land.
nspiration and connection! In these unprecedented times communities appear as an alternative – stronger than ever and more connected than before. While growing our local resilience, we in Suderbyn and thousands other communities also strengthen our large systemic actions. Though ECOLISE (European umbrella-organisation for community-led initiatives) could not meet physically for the General Assembly, it gathered for a great online assembly with over 50 delegates from national and regional networks of Transition, Ecovillages and Permacutlure movements, urban and rural community-led initiatives, research activists and policy changers. Folk from Suderbyn is typically there as besides being an ecovillage we are also an active hub for international and regional networks! 3-4 April 2020 will be remembered by as the celebration of our resilience and adaptation, strong connection and mutual support.
“Perhaps we cannot raise the winds. But each of us can put up the sail, so that when the wind comes we can catch it” — the quote of E.F. Schumacher was shared by the keynote speaker Daniel Christian Wahl and echoed in the group. These weeks we feel how the experience of community-led initiatives can serve the times of COVID-19 and the following crisis: how our tools and solutions for food and energy sovereignty, strong local communities and international solidarity, ecosystem restoration and climate change adaptation can also serve fundamental needs and happiness of the society.
When the world and its old socio-economic paradigm are facing an upcoming crisis, we see how resilience, practical solutions and social support cultivated by communities offer a strong alternative. When "business as usual" does not provide illusionary safety anymore, we turn towards our families and neighbours, friends and like-minded companions, towards land and local resources, towards homes and gardens, and ask What we can do differently.
ECOLISE represents a strong trust in communities and local actions, as well as the multi-local connection between networks all over Europe. We have so much to offer! Let the time of the crisis be the time of mainstreaming the solutions already developed and practiced by the communities!
Warm greetings and deep inspiration from #EcoliseGA2020! #ecolise
Ecovillages National Organization (ERO) took the opportunity and celebrated its 33 years of service for a more sustainable Sweden!
ERO is currently a participant in the EU project "Community Learning Incubator Partnership for Sustainability" (CLIPS II) which will strengthen ERO's ability to support those who want to start ecovillages in Sweden. We started the day with a mini-training about supporting and developing ecovillages / communities in CLIPS way with Nara Petrovic from Sunny Hill Ecovillage, Slovenia and Alisa Dendro from Suderbyn Ecovillage & NGO Relearn on Gotland.
After a healthy lunch and fresh air, we listened to Anders Nyquist, one of the real ecobypioneers in Sweden and experiencsd with Rumpans ecoby (founded in 1967) and Linda Nordfors, one of the promoters of Sweden's latest ecoby project, Ekoby Tallberget in Gnesta. She shared her view of a different kind of entrepreneurship in the "passionate economy".
We also held our annual meeting, with updates of ERO's work with CLIPS and what it can mean for Swedish ecovillages.
EPALE is a European, multilingual, open membership community of adult learning professionals, including adult educators and trainers, guidance and support staff, researchers and academics, and policymakers.
EPALE is funded by the Erasmus+ programme. It is part of the European Union’s strategy to promote more and better learning opportunities for all adults. Suderbyn was recently featured in the Swedish EPALE website, that we share with you here:
Suderbyns ekoby är en gemenskap av människor från olika länder och kulturer, belägen på Gotland. De beskriver sig själva som en grupp som tillsammans bygger platsen de bor på - inte bara fysiskt utan också socialt. Målet är att leva på ett sätt som skapar en välmående livsmiljö och samtidigt minimera miljöavtrycket. Ekobyn strävar efter att leva nära naturen och uppnå en mer hållbar livsstil. De strävar också efter självförsörjning inom livsmedelsproduktion och förnybar energi genom att prioritera ekologiska och lokala material. De experimenterar på olika områden med innovation och traditionell kunskap med ett försök att skapa en modell för ett hälsosamt och lyckligt liv. De arbetar för att uppnå detta med olika utbildningsprojekt både på lokal och internationell nivå.
Suderbyn består av tre olika delar: stiftelsen, kooperativet och NGO RELEARN. Stiftelsen äger fastigheten och byggnaderna, kooperativet fokuserar på invånarnas basbehov och välbefinnande medan RELEARN arbetar med utbildningsprojekt, utbildning och internationella nätverk.
De som bor på Suderbyn arbetar också där och skapar på så sätt sitt hem tillsammans. De odlar en del av sin mat i den egna trädgården, som är designad enligt permakultur-principerna. Med permakultur menas ett långsiktigt hållbart förhållningssätt mellan människa och natur och att denna kultur ska genomsyra vardagen inom alla områden. Permakultur myntades av Bill Mollison och David Holmgren i Australien 1978. Under årens lopp har permakultur börjat användas i många länder och inom olika samhällssektorer. Målet för permakultur är ett hållbart samhälle, vilket skapar meningsfullt arbete, bättre miljö, hälsa, solidaritet och säkerhet.
Suderbyn utvecklar också olika miljöfrämjande projekt. Exempelvis tillhandahåller de bil- och cykelpooler och utvecklar sin egen energiproduktion. På så sätt kombinerar de enkelt landsbygdsliv med ekologiska innovationer och experimentella idéer.
Majoriteten av Suderbyns olika projekt genomförs tillsammans med andra organisationer, framförallt andra ekobyar i olika regionala och internationella nätverk. Projekten har finansierats med hjälp av internationella volontärprogram som Europeiska solidaritetskåren (ESC), franska statens Service Civique och Service Civil International (SCI), liksom utbildningsprojekt med fokus på hållbarhet och miljö inom Erasmus+ och Nordplus vuxen. Stort fokus inom ekobyn ligger på icke-formellt lärande där volontärer och de boende på ekobyn tillsammans lär och utvecklar ekobyns verksamhet och aktiviteter genom praktiskt deltagande.
Läs mer om Erasmus+ strategiska partnerskap, vuxenutbildning:
Läs mer om Erasmus+ mobilitet vuxenutbildning:
Läs mer om Nordplus vuxen: https://www.nordplusonline.org/Who-can-apply/Nordplus-Adult (på engelska)
Här på EPALE tror vi starkt att vuxenutbildning kan gynna och stödja främjandet av färdigheter som möjliggör aktivt medborgarskap och människors engagemang. Vuxenutbildning spelar faktiskt en avgörande roll i kampen mot växande ojämlikheter. Besök EPALE regelbundet, det kommer alltid att finnas något nytt att upptäcka när det gäller Miljömedvetenhet och hållbarhet!
To offer an escape from the confinement and share our vision, we organized the Webinar series Our Renewable Future 🤗. Special thanks to Antoine Arquié, Symon Gob, Abdul Otman, Jingwen Yao Art and every community member for this intense and connected week.
We hope you enjoyed attending our webinars, it was with great pleasure to host our panelists and connect with each and every one of you.
This initiative is now finished, let us know if you have suggestions for new initiatives 👏. Because we want to do more. And we will do more 🐾
All videos are available on our Youtube and our Facebook Page
What's happening in the ecovillage? What projects are we running at the moment? Here you can follow our work and find out about exciting news and events!