Re-Green & Liveloula: The growing Permaculture Communities in the Pelloponese

“Nice to meet you. I’m Joey! Come on in”

Those were the first words of my future classmate and dear friend Joey, as he was picking me up from the center of Akrata, a small coastal town on the north of Pelloponese. We were both heading up to Seliana, for our full permaculture immersion that was going to take place at re-green ecoculture center: a 12-day Permaculture Design Course (PDC).

I was far off from predicting that, the special strong energy I felt in that place from that first moment I got off the car, would drive me back again two years later.

As a village, Seliana, holds a true magic with its luscious green vegetation, its cool refreshing summers, its smell of fresh forest air and constant water flow coming straight from its mountain sources. What better place could the couple form Athens, Flery and Christos, choose to build and grow their paradise?

The couple began about five years ago by working on the existing trees and improving their living conditions by applying a diversity of permaculture principles, while simultaneously working on creating a yielding fruit forest. From the very first days they ‘ve been experimenting on all sorts of permaculture vegetable garden methods while working hard to renovate and put together one of the most attractive points of the center: its 250 year old stone build guesthouse.

What is remarkable about re-green, is how fast it has developed these past few years – buildings and all sorts of permaculture-based structures are popping out everywhere in the land. An outdoor kitchen with a mass rocket-stove and a cob oven for baking breads and all sorts of roasts, a circular classroom space with a magnificent reciprocal roof, an outdoor sauna and going.

Christos, a computer engineer with a past working on formula cars, is always up to something – he’s either building, fixing or plastering something on the land, always on the move and always learning and applying new things!

This time I was there, I was lucky enough to catch him working on a beautiful waterproofing finishing technique on a couple of bathrooms he’s been building: a technique known as Tadelakt – a very special plastering method coming all the way from Morocco. This method results to nothing less than an ambiance of a cool marble stone with abstract washes of colors blending gracefully all across the walls.

Beyond the impressive and fast moving structures going on at re-green, there’s something else even more special and attractive: its people.

Flery and Christo’s always welcoming mood is beyond belief. From the very first warm hug Flery gives you as soon as you step in, to the delicious and nutritious meals that always come out re-green’s kitchen, are only a few of the reasons why you want to keep coming back.

What this optimistic couple of visionaries has managed to do in only a few years, beyond applying permaculture principles in their land, creating some exemplary natural buildings, and organizing a series of self-developing workshops, was to attract all sorts of interesting people closer to their center. With so many diverse, educated and determined young people gathering around them, individuals ready to act and create a more positive life, Christos and Flery have managed to bring a breath of relief to the area. Most importantly, they were able to become the foundation and inspiration for the creation of an alternative complex of nearby communities based on self-sufficiency, collaboration, compassion and eventually resilience.

And what better example than the one of Liveloula – a community formed in the heart of the forest of Seliana, a kilometer away from re-green. Liveloula began with the vision of another couple of world-changers: Steven and Chenny: Two Dutch dreamers who set out a couple of years ago, on a quest for a better, more natural life.

Getting inspired by the momentum the alternative living was gaining at re-green and enchanted by the majestic landscapes of Seliana, the couple bought a piece of land and started living in right away, inside their small trailer.

It’s the patience, clarity of goals and determination of Steven and Chenny that lead that piece of wild growing land, transform today into the permaculture heaven of Liveloula. A cozy cob house with the most magnificent window view to the garden, a welcoming outside communal space, vegetable and herb gardens with plants thriving with health and vitality and an under-construction wooden-frame cob communal house, are just a few manifestations of the hard work invested in the land these last couple of years.

Liveloula, just like re-green, with their attractive location and appealing vision, have managed to become poles of attraction for WWOOFERs from all parts of the world. Volunteers join the communities and stay with them for at least 3-4 weeks, learning and helping out in all house activities.

Volunteers come and go, visitors pass by, but what remains are these constantly evolving communities that grow steadily towards self-sufficiency and resilience.

A diverse group of people, with a diverse set of skills and dreams, which has no other way to go than towards a stable growth.

“Diversity brings Stability,” is anyway something that Permaculturists like to remind us.

 

Sofia Matsi

Reporting for summer 2015 visit