What’s unique about the initiative?
Cloughjordan Ecovillage models the transition to a low-carbon society and shares its learning through various educational activities. With 55 low-carbon homes, a carbon-neutral district heating system, a community farm, green enterprise centre, a planned reed-bed treatment plant and Ireland’s lowest ecological footprint, the ecovillage is demonstrating different ways to achieve ecological, economic and social sustainability.
Most outstanding results
The Cloughjordan Ecovillage emerged 20 years ago thanks to a group of pioneers concerned at the lack of public awareness of climate change and the need to build sustainability. Two decades on, Cloughjordan Ecovillage is now widely recognised as a unique community that illustrates the potential to live a low-carbon lifestyle while developing livelihoods.
In 2019, more than 1600 people attended the educational tours and courses that the ecovillage offers as a way to provide knowledge and inspiration to the broader community. This is in addition to hundreds of people who came to a range of festivals such as the August permaculture festival and the September apple festival. Universities in Ireland and in the US regularly bring students on study visits as part of their academic courses, allowing for immersive learning experiences. The ecovillage is also a place where students and academics from Ireland and overseas undertake research on aspects of low-carbon living.
Through our membership-based community farm, which feeds over 100 people with deliveries twice weekly throughout the year, and knock-on projects like the Middle Country Café on the main street using produce from the farm, or the Cloughjordan Community Amphitheatre providing a venue for festivals, concerts and plays, the village demonstrates the viability of local production, exchange and consumption.
A vibrant cluster of businesses includes a 34-bed eco-hostel and RiotRye, a national award-winning wood-fired bakery and bakery Schoolthe, and on main street, a book and coffee shop. Knowing the urgency of the climate crisis, we seek new ways to share the lessons of building a resilient community, combining ecological with economic sustainability.
The Covid-19 pandemic closed down our educational work and temporarily suspended our guided tours and courses. In response, we produced an online virtual tour, moved community meetings to Zoom, and continued to work in a socially distanced way on our farm. The pandemic has motivated us to develop new ways of offering our educational programme through developing a series of ‘Deep Listening’ webinars. We are also filming a short promotional video promoting tailored webinars for university and school groups. In these ways, the ecovillage is drawing a wider participation in its educational activities.
QUOTE FROM THE EVALUATION COMMITTEE:
“Anyone who has experienced or studied the phenomenon of ecovillages or other intentional communities knows how incredibly difficult it is and how many of them fail. As such, the mere fact that this ecovillage managed to materialize and persist is in itself very inspiring and hopeful for anyone who wants to start such initiative. The more specific things that really inspired me about the story of Cloughjordan are (1) the fact that it integrated into an existing settlement and the attention it gives to retrofitting, (2) its attention for social entrepreneurship and viable business models including various cooperative forms (rather than being dependent on subsidy), (3) its awareness of community-building and conflict-resolution, and (4) its multi-facet nature from farming and technology to arts and culture.”
– Flor Avelino
To know more, read this in-depth article on TNI. Also, you can scroll down to download the application form filled by this initiative to take part in the Transformative Cities award.