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EcoVillage: Green Communities

September 22, 2014

Communities of likeminded individuals can change our environment for the better. In upstate New York there’s the EcoVillage, an “alternate model of living,” that’s doing just that.

The history of EcoVillage begins with Joan Bokaer and Liz Walker who were inspired by 1960s supportive living housing projects in Denmark. They worked together to bring this lifestyle to the U.S. in a new, inventive way. In 1991, Bokaer and Walker raised over $400,000 in gifts and loans and became the co-directors of EcoVillage.

EcoVillage is located in the Finger Lakes region of New York and includes 175 acres of land. Eighty percent of this land will remain a green space, including 55 acres “in a conservation easement” with the Finger Lakes Land Trust.  They currently have two 30-home neighborhoods.

The first neighborhood “First Residents Group” or FROG was completed in 1997. The second neighborhood “Second Neighborhood Group” or SONG was completed in 2004. The homes in each neighborhood are energy efficient, made from salvaged materials with other eco-friendly features like low flow toilets and faucets, composting and rainwater collection. Their community houses 150 adults and children.

The villages include a one acre pond (for swimming, ice-skating and wildlife), playgrounds, community gardens and a neighborhood root cellar. They have two private, organic farms, the West Haven Farm and Kestrel Perch Berry Farm, where they grow plants like apples, beans, plums, spinach and turnips. Their two Common Houses have community laundry rooms, storage, a metal/wood shop, and private offices.

Part of what makes EcoVillage a community is their Work Teams. The residents volunteer about two to three hours a week on various tasks including outdoor maintenance and governance of future projects. They prepare group dinners several times a week in the common houses. And they invite the local community with music jams, talent shows and educational/outreach programs.

The EcoVillage has begun work on a third neighborhood, TREE, which will include studio apartments and larger homes. They also have other plans including an education center, “village-scale” wind power, organic orchards, an on-site biological wastewater treatment center, gray water recycling, and a natural cemetery.

If want to learn more or schedule a tour of EcoVillage visit their website.

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