Findhorn is an eco-community located in the North of Scotland, next to the small village of Forres and just off the Findhorn Bay of Moray. After visiting this Winter I was amazed at the possibility of living a carbon neutral lifestyle on such a large scale. It is the largest single intentional community in the UK, an eco-village since 1985, and has an ecological footprint that is half the UK national average. The origin of the eco-village itself is a fascinating story, and although I won’t go into great detail, let me just say that it all started with a lady, a caravan and a field.
Here are five reasons that I think you should travel through the gorgeous Scottish countryside to take look for yourself:
1. The Community and the People
As we arrived to the community I felt that I’d stepped back in time – absolutely everyone that we met stopped us and said hello, asked where we were from, and thanked us for visiting – we hadn’t even reached our straw-bale house yet. Naturally, the people that you meet in an eco-village tend to be like-minded but the friendliness of these people was on a whole new level.
2. The Food
Within the community itself, everyone eats and prepares the food together. The food is wholesome, organic where possible, and absolutely delicious. Most of the vegetables are grown bio-dynamically on the 25 acre farm land which supplies 140 households within the village. Organic cheese, eggs and meat are produced by another local farm.
3. The Buildings
This is the main reason that I decided to visit the eco-village. After building a straw bale house next to my family home with the help of 20 or so volunteers camped in my back garden – I decided to check out the eco-homes on offer here. In fact, there’s quite a few to choose from! Findhorn currently has 61 ecological buildings, ranging from recycled car tires, straw, and natural non-toxic materials. The Findhorn Foundation has recently published ‘Simply Build Green‘, the UK’s first technical guide to ecological housing – the book has been positively received on an international level.
4. The Toilets
At last! An eco-toilet that looks like a normal toilet! After experiencing my fair share of outside sawdust loos, I was so excited by the toilets on offer at Findhorn. Here, the toilets flush like normal toilets but the sewage is actually dealt with by ‘the Living Machine ®’. To summarise, diverse communities of bacteria, algae, micro-organisms, plants and trees, snails, and fish decompose the seawage – at the end of the tanks the result is that the water is so pure it can be discharged into the sea.
5. To Learn
Whether you attend one of the courses at the eco-village, which range from permaculture to design for sustainability incorporating Transition Towns training, or opt to stay as a guest, you will no doubt learn a lot; not only about eco-village life, the possibility of alternative living, but also about yourself.
Charlotte Nicol is the co-founder of the UK based Tour company called Most Curious Tours. Recently launched, Most Curious Tours aims at showing tourists the hidden cultural hotspots of the UK, travelling in small groups by scenic railway routes, staying in independent accommodation, and attending local concerts and theatre productions in hand-picked destinations across the UK.