Friday, January 21, 2005

Gaia Ecovillage

Navarro, Argentina, 1/21/2005-- A bumpy three hour, stop and go bus ride out of the metropolis of Buenos Aires lays the small agricultural town of Navarro. Just outside town Gaia Ecovillage sits on 20 hectares, nestled amongst thousands of hectares of estancias, large land holdings. Most of the estancias are for dairy production but the latest agricultural rave is transgenic soybeans. Argentina is one of the largest exporters of soybeans in the world.

Gaia is a tiny David amongst an army of Goliaths. However, their pioneering work to establish a sustainability movement in Argentina is starting to capture the attention of the country. A few months ago Gaia was featured on national television and last week they were interviewed by a reporter from La Nacion, the largest newspaper in the country.

Since 1996 their small group of 8-12 people has established an important model of sustainable living. The goal of the project is to live spiritually satisfying lives in community and in harmony with the natural ecology. The land has been designed using the concepts of permaculture, a methodology for developing sustainable human settlements. One-hundred percent of their electricity comes from three wind turbines. All of their cooking is done on parabolic solar cookers and an efficient wood fired, earth and metal oven. The showers are solar heated. They have completed two hand sculpted earth houses that look more like works of art than habitations. The smooth, poured-earth floors and thick earth walls stay cool under the blazing sun. A huge thatched roof earth common house is under construction.

Gaia Ecovillage is also one of the few places in Argentina where you can get an almost entirely organic and homegrown meal. Although they don’t yet produce many staple crops and their fruit trees are still immature, their vegetable garden is abundant. They even save their own seed.

In addition to practicing sustainable living the residents at Gaia also teach others to do the same. They regularly teach courses in permaculture, natural building and community living. Some of the courses are geared towards foreigners but the most are taught completely in Spanish for the local population.

Life certainly isn’t perfect at Gaia. Community dynamics can be tumultuous and economic resources scarce. However, in comparison to the poor neighborhoods outside Buenos Aires life is comfortable and healthy. The simple and natural approach to living practiced at Gaia has great potential to improve the lives of many Argentineans.

For more information, workshop schedules and internship opportunities visit,

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