Ecovillage community member

Have you ever thought about getting away from it all and moving to an ecovillage? What’s an ecovillage you ask? Ecovillages are communities whose inhabitants seek to live according to ecological principles, causing as little impact on the environment as possible.

It’s a rather appealing idea to a growing number of people as self-sustainability and self-governance are a growing trend. Ecovillages are popping up all around the nation with a few common themes.

Healing herbs
Community gardens and shared agriculture are just a few of the appealing features that ecovillages offer. Chamille White/Shutterstock

Awareness of caring for the world we live in and our responsibility to this planet are common threads among the ideals of many ecovillages. While there are many models that different ecovillages follow, there are some commonalities among them.

Intentional living is a primary philosophy for most ecovillages. You’ll also commonly find things like;

  • community gardens,
  • shared agriculture,
  • off-the-grid energy,
  • bartering systems,
  • homeschooling co-operatives and more services that inspire a community of sharing.

This philosophy of intentional living within a community makes the transition to off-the-grid living much more attainable and less inhibiting than trekking off on your own homestead. Living in a community where everyone shares similar life philosophies can make the transition much more exciting and fulfilling.

Do you desire to live amongst people who desire an intentional living environment like you? Do you have skills that would make you valuable to an ecovillage? Then perhaps it’s time you consider the lifestyle that ecovillages can offer.

So how do you find the right ecovillage for you? The Fellowship for Intentional Community offers a directory of ecovillages that will help you identify ecovillages that would be a good fit with your ideals. You can then make a list of ecovillages that peak your interests and see which ones are open to visitors.

To get you started on your journey to finding the right ecovillage for you, here’s a list of 5 U.S.-based ecovillages that inspire intentional living. One of them just might inspire you to take the leap!

Earthaven Ecovillage

Earthhaven ecovillage
Image Credit – (Flickr)

Earthaven is an aspiring ecovillage on 229 acres in a mountain forest setting near Asheville, North Carolina. Its founders are dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning, living and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture. Founded in 1994, Earthaven has grown to 55 full and associate members ranging from infants to elders. They desire to grow to at least 150 people on 56 homesites.

They are developing on-site businesses as part of their own village‑scale economy that include permaculture plant nursery, carpentry, home construction, tool-rental, solar system installation, plumbing and electrical installation, candle-lanterns and other wooden craft items as well as access to consultants and courses in permaculuture design, natural building, creating new ecovillages, herbal medicine and women’s health. Earthaven is currently seeking emotionally mature, cooperative people of all kinds to join them in creating their ecovillage dream.

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is located on 280 acres in the rolling hills of northeastern Missouri. They are currently constructing buildings as well as planning and developing a community structure. Ecological sustainability is the primary focus at Dancing Rabbit. Homes are built through alternative means like straw bale and cob and they are powered by renewable energy sources like the sun and wind.

All vehicles are cooperatively owned and biodiesel powered. There is a focus on eating local, organic and in-season foods including many home-grown vegetables. Dancing Rabbit also has a focus on internal economy, including a bartering system and an internal currency. The long-term plan is for 500 to 1,000 people to live at Dancing Rabbit.

Ecovillage at Ithaca

In 1991, EcoVillage at Ithaca was one of only a handful of co-housing communities in the U.S., and about 20 intentional living communities in the world. Today, EcoVillage at Ithaca is part of a global movement of people seeking to create positive solutions to the social, environmental and economic crises our planet faces. EcoVillage at Ithaca has evolved into a large, fully functioning community with buildings, landscape, roads, paths, farms, gardens, governance structures, group process and intentional relationships. Even though Ecovillage at Ithaca is one of the oldest ecovillages in the world, they are still accepting new members that fit within their structure.

Twin Oaks Community

Twin Oaks ecovillage
Image Credit – Joan Cacciatore Mazza (Flickr)

Twin Oaks Community is an ecovillage located in in Central Virginia. Twin Oaks strives to consider what might be sustainable for the long term. Conservation is key. That’s why they focus on resource efficiency and share vehicles, equipment, living space and more. They also focus on recycling and reusing, and even have a dumpster diving culture. Much of the food eaten at Twin Oaks is grown and raised within the community through organic farming practices (although they aren’t certified organic).

Most buildings are heated with locally harvested firewood or passive solar heating. They also have some solar water heating installations and some photovoltaic (electricity) developments. Community-run businesses include Twin Oaks Hammocks, a certified organic tofu business, certified organic seed production and more. Twin Oaks currently has a waiting list, so if this ecovillage interests you, be sure to add your name to it.

Living Roots Ecovillage

Living Roots EcoVillage is located on a beautiful 75-acre farm near Patoka Lake, Indiana. This historic farm has 3 barns, 3 greenhouses, a bunkhouse, 5 cabins, a community center, more than 10 springs (including a spring house), good fencing, good soil, a farm stand, U-Pick strawberry patch, a pond, forest, beautiful rolling pastures and so much more.

Currently, there are 16 members (as well as chickens, cows, pigs and dogs), but they’re actively seeking more like-minded individuals to join them. They are working hard to create an off-the-grid community that supplies most of its own food and acts as a group of empowered healers. They are well on their way, but need more members that are interested in living in and growing an intentional, sustainable, and integrated community.

Whether one of these five U.S.-based ecovillages is the right fit for your intentional living dreams or not, we hope you’ll incorporate some of their philosophies into your life today. You can find more ecovillages to consider through the Fellowship for Intentional Community, the Global Ecovillage Network and the Sustainable Ecovillages Forum.

Which of these ecovillages inspires you most? What appeals to you about living in an ecovillage?

Feature image – gulsina/Shutterstock

By Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.