Situated on 18 hectares, Aldinga Arts Ecovillage (an hour south of Adelaide) is the physical manifestation of an idea that sprung 20 years ago among a group of artists and permaculturalists wanting more self sufficiency and an intentional lifestyle. Land was purchased in 2000, and the ecovillage is now home to about 200 adults and 50 children. Resident Sue Eltahir toured us around.
“We’re encouraged to blur the edges of the Common Land.” In accordance, Sue’s verdant, edible garden curves out into the common area, though the village policy of “share excess food” and “pick, don’t strip” are well observed by neighbors. Besides the green building techniques (see slide show for Sue’s hand-made adobe bricks), water catchment systems, and edible gardens grown by residents, Aldinga also has its own waste water processing facility that filters water on site and dispatches the effluent to the nearby wood lot.
Several acres of arable farm land at the outer edge of the ecovillage are currently under cover crop, building soil for a future permaculture demonstration garden. Sue and another resident are using part of this farm land to experiment with growing native and vulnerable mally trees, such as the Eucalyptus dissita, whose roots also happen to be particularly effective for carbon sequestration. They’re also experimenting with growing acacia to coppice for chook fodder.
One of the most unique landscape elements of the ecovillage is the purpose-built outdoor movie theater. Mounded up with piles of Earth left from construction of the existing dam system and building sites, the grassy knoll is protected by a curved hedge and faces a movie screen, behind which beautiful views of the valley roll into the distance. Movies are screened twice monthly and, according to Sue, “it’s a terrific community building activity.”
Ecovillage residents are now working on raising funds for capital improvement projects, including a community kitchen and meeting place and separate education building.