I had been hearing about the Free and Real eco-community in Evia, Greece for a while. Finally, I managed to visit them, and now I can share my experiences with you.
An Eco-Community in Greece
In recent years, a number of eco-communities have been launched in several areas in Greece. In part, this is due to a reaction where people are getting fed up with city life, the recent economic crisis and the system in general. I can relate to this! I've chosen what many consider to be an alternative lifestyle, although I've taken a different path. Whilst I like to get away from things pedalling around the world, at the Free and Real project, they are trying to find new ways to live on our little planet while reducing their ecological footprint. The Mrs and I were recently invited to visit the eco-community to check it out.
What is Free and Real?
Free and Real is a gathering of people who share Gandhi’s common aspiration: to become the change they want to see in the world. The original team met in 2008. Within a few months and with the help of many people, they established a non-profit NGO called “Free & Real”.
Free & Real’s goal is to research, create and implement an efficient social structure in a prototype, sustainable eco-community in Greece, aiming to serve as a research school on self-sufficiency and sustainability while achieving a way of life with the lowest possible ecological footprint. In effect, they wish to share all the practical knowledge, information, technologies and solutions that they will encounter, study and implement on their journey. At the same time they aim to encourage, strengthen, educate and inspire the people they meet.
This is what Free and Real stands for:
Our experience with Free and Real
We spent a couple of days with the Free and Real team (five people total), a few volunteers and about thirty more guests from several European countries who were curious to see what the project is really all about.
At the moment, Free and Real is running on three sites in Evia:
The test site
Located in Agiokampos. This is where the team has been learning how to implement sustainable methods, and where they are currently living on a permanent basis. The test site comprises four eco-homes called Yurts (originally Asian nomadic structures) and a smaller wooden home; in total, about 45 persons can be accommodated in beds. There is also a cob kitchen facility, compost toilets, a botanical garden and a big permaculture garden. A waste water management system, renewable energy productions with solar panels, and many other applications around the subject of sustainability are also in place.
Visiting the Free and Real centre of self-sufficiency research in Evia, Greece. This photo was taken at the test site, a place where they develop projects and applications for later use. The building shown has cob walls, and a neat internal heating system. A blog post going live in a couple of weeks about the place! #Greece #ecofriendly #sustainability #communities #alternativeliving #freeandreal #thereallifeproject #weekend #future
Located in the village of Agios. This is where Free and Real prepare their all-natural products, for example jams, herbal teas, herb mixes, shampoos, soaps and toothpaste. There is a multi-functional seminar space, a kitchen / production facility, a woodshop, a products space, a greenhouse, a herbs dryer space, a small herb / veggie garden and other smaller supporting spaces.
The Telaithrion project
Located on the mountain close to Agios. This is where the team is planning to build a sustainable, eco-friendly community based on what they have learnt from their experiences on the test site, and to live permanently in the future. Apart from a large geodesic dome (100sqm), this area contains a forest garden (more than a thousand trees have been planted), as well as a dig that will eventually become a natural lake. There are also many other supporting structures such as toilets, showers, a compost area etc. The view from the top is simply amazing!
Needless to say, Free and Real follow a vegan diet. During our stay there we had tons of fruits, veggies and salads, along with bread, home-made snacks, pasta, and bean dishes – quite delicious!
How can I meet Free and Real?
Free and Real are welcoming people who want to experience an alternative way of life any day, any time of the year. Just get in touch on Facebook and they will be happy to host you and introduce you to a different way of life for a few days. They are also open to receiving volunteers for longer periods of time, especially if you are interested in contributing and learning new skills.
However, if you want to spend a few days of Sustainability, Music, Arts, Permaculture, Events, Talks, Workshops and amazing food and also meet many like-minded people, you can visit Free and Real during the second Spiral Knights Eco-Festival on the Telethrion Mountain, on 5-10 September.
During this six-day event there will be practical workshops (permaculture, cooking, eco-building etc), daily seminars (yoga, thai massage, tai-chi, sound healing, percussion classes, acrobatics etc), as well as plenty of music, theater and dance performances. This event will bring together people from different backgrounds, and everyone will participate in making it happen.
Have you already visited the Free and Real project, or are you planning to visit? Let us know in the comments below!