Repopulating the countryside

I believe that one aspect of the necessary change is repopulation of the countryside. Large-scale energy-intensive mechanised farming is incompatible with permaculture principles. And the key to sustainable food production from the land together with biodiversity is design-intensive and human-attention-intensive production. Doing this on an isolated farm or smallholding may provide earth care but it does not mean satisfactory people care, which requires a thriving community in the countryside.

To be sustainable, the countryside needs to have communities within it the majority of whose populations do not need to frequently travel significant distances and who can spend most of their time at home.

Co-housing eco-hamlets can be part of a truly sustainable countryside when they integrate into the surrounding community and incorporate small scale manufacturing for local needs, people working at home with the aid of the internet and possibly providing employment for others in the community.


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2 Responses to Repopulating the countryside

  1. PhilF says:

    We don’t have to look much beyond the tragic levels of suicide amongst farmers to realise the shortcomings of trying to make a living from the land under the present economic and social structures. The stresses farmers face include physical isolation, debilitating bureaucracy as well as impossible financial pressures. The only way of surviving under these circumstances is to get bigger, use chemicals etc. Trying to maintain sanity and make a living whilst maintaining “green” ethics is all but impossible.
    I like the idea of a “parallel community” which sees the possibility of an alternative lifestyle whilst recognising that we are in a minority at this stage. But our viability will be greatly enhanced by forging links and mutual asociations with others of like mind and “infecting” the local community with our ideas and values. But ultimately I believe that showing by example is the most effective means of communication of ideas. So there is no substitute for “walking the talk”.
    But we shouldn’t underestimate the task of re-establishing community in rural areas. So much of the basic infrastructure that allowed us previously to live without travelling long distances for amusement or basic necessities has disappeared and many skills have been lost. But this is all the more reason to build a genuine rural community which can as far as possible be truly sustainable in financial, social and environmental terms.
    Whilst I feel creating such a community in a remote location could be challenging, I equally feel that too close a proximity to urban life could similarly pose problems. Many small villages/towns have retained a measure of “community”, local shops etc precisely because they are insulated by distance from the harsher competition of urban life. Thus I would opt for a middle way- ie a rural location which is not “isolated”.

  2. Richard says:

    Thank you Phil for a very clear analysis. You are absolutely right about the difficulty of re-establishing community in rural areas and also about its importance. Whilst emotionally I hanker after a Lammas style eco-village I doubt if I could cope with it, also working somewhere nearer people’s current situations is more likely to be effective.

    This all points to the ‘middle way’ as you suggest and that I put in the original vision pages. So can we agree to locate near an existing village or small town and avoid both isolation and the urban nightmare.

    The parallel community idea is an excellent one, whilst I have instinctively followed its principles I only recently actually heard of it as an organisation. Here is a link to their excellent website.


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