Cloughjordan Ecovillage Trip (April 2013)

Members of Monaghan Ecological Group enjoyed an interesting and inspirational trip to Cloughjordan Eco Village, Tipperary, on Saturday last.  Click here to see photos of this event.

Cloughjordan,is a village of under 1,000 people located in North Tipperary, near  the towns of Roscrea and Nenagh. In the 1990s a group of people from different walks of life, with a concern for environmentally sustainable living, decided to come together to start an intentional community, centered around the values of environmentally and economically sustainable community living and green enterprise. They placed an ad in the Farmers Journal seeking land, and acquired a site of 67 acres of lush farm and woodland in rural Tipperary. Over the years, the project has gone from strength to strength, with 53 residential units, consisting of housing and apartments, currently on site. There is scope for up to 135 units on site.

Housing & Community

Aswell as being varied and appealing to the eye, the buildings are constructed from a variety of sources including timber, cob and hemp, with much of the help being supplied by Marcus McCabe of Co. Monaghan. The buildings are well insulated and are heated through a district heating scheme, which is powered by wood chips, harvested locally. There is also scope to develop a local energy scheme.

There is a great sense of community and co – operation on site, with regular social events being organised. Residents take the time to stop and chat with each other and all are involved to some degree in the life of their community. MEG members were greeted with smiles and ‘hellos’ while walking around the site.

The buildings are well spaced and blend well into the surrounding country side and the village of Cloughjordan. A lane way leads from the site to the main street of Cloughjordan. The residents and those involved in the  project have integrated well into the local community and the project has been a significant social and economic help tothe small Tipperary town. Like any small Irish town, Cloughjordan has come under economic strains in recent times, but the ongoing work on the site has provided a boon to the local construction industry, as well as increasing business for the local shops and services. While most rural schools are coming under fire from rising levels of emigration and cutbacks, the local school has seen a rise in numbers, with the employment of two extra teachers, something of a miracle in today’s climate!

Food Production

Fifty acres of the site are dedicated to agriculture and agro – forestry. Two people are employed full time on the organic farm, with many opportunities available for voluntary work and for those wishing to learn more about organic production. Local residents pay a flat rate per month directly to the farmer,for a constant supply of fresh, locally produced organic agriculture, which they can simply pick up when they please at the local food warehouse. As well as providing a secure, fresh, healthy and environmentally friendly source of food, this buy direct scheme, provides a secure form of employment for the local organic farmers, while cutting out the need and hassle of supplying to large retailers. There is significant scope for this model to be rolled out to other communities around the country, and it could be a positive way of reducing food miles, waste and securing a financially viable source of rural employment in organic agriculture.

The same, buy direct, model is applied to the local wood fired, stone bakery. This bakery, which uses no electricity, bar a small light bulb, bakes delicious and wholesome varieties bread for the village and local shops. Instead of relying on electricity, the oven is powered by locally sourced timber and is highly efficient due to the heat retention of its brick construction.

 

Education & Enterprise

The Eco Village is well serviced by a new local enterprise centre. Currently a number of high tech, green start – ups are operating on site, providing further  employment and investment potential for the rural town.

Aswell as being a hub of enterprise, the Eco Village runs regular tours and courses for those interested in applying its concept elsewhere, such as an annual permaculture course. For those wishing to stay a little longer than one day, they can book themselves into Django’s Eco Hostel!

More information can be found about this interesting and exciting project at  www.thevillage.ie

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