In Schweibenalp, the Swiss Alps at an elevation of 1000 metres, you can find permaculture

Among the mountains in Swiss Alps, near the splendid turquoise lake of Brienz, it is possible to see find the Unity Center Schweibenalp, an ecovillage hosting 30 residents all year. It has been 35 years now that the ecovillage can host up to 300 visitors. At an elevation of 1000 metres with the help of permaculture, residents are able to grow more than 300 different kinds of vegetables. Let’s discover this magical place.

In 1982 the adventure begins. An ecology enthusiast and peace activist is searching for a place to build what was supposed to be at first an Ashram, which is a kind of indian temple governed by a spiritual leader, a guru. In 2008, the community decides to end the Ashram to exit from religious traditions and enable members to explore the world by themselves by making new personal experiences, reflecting in a way the Osho philosophy.

Nowadays, the Unity Center Schweibenalp try to create unity with all kinds of spiritualities, it is inter-religious because « we are all connected ». Thus, it develops a new type of community, more open to the external world, that organize meetings, seminars and peace celebrations.

The turquoise lake of Brienz, near the Unity Center Schweibenalp

Joy and love in support of work

Various working groups are designed to meet the needs of the community and take part of the everyday life : welcoming visitors, cooking, gardening, construction, etc. Like the Zegg Community in Germany, this is an holistic and holocratic approach that is put forward. They have a horizontal mode of governance that put collective thinking at the center, they view issues not as a part but as a whole, making the common good at the center rather than individual interests.

This is not the easiest way of course, but it is the fairest way : “we try to elevate ourselves here because what is most important is not Myself, but Us”. Diverse tasks are performed with serenity in order for work to be in support of the community and not the opposite. Members of the community are empowered and thus are happier to work.

In order to manage conflicts that can always arise among men and women, outside personalities come to provide advice with the benefit of hindsight.

A permaculture garden in winter

 9 months a year of permaculture

Besides the winter period, one of the main activities here is to develop permaculture gardens. When it is too cold, the area is protected with cotton. During functional seasons, a team of 10 persons is employed among the volunteers to work in the gardens.

In the heights, salads and cabbages such as kale cabbages are those which grow best. The community grow a lot of them. The community possess also a nursery for plants and flowers, as well as a mushroom garden, and even fruit trees such as apricot trees. They use harvest both for food and medecine, as most plants have medicinal virtues. To give one example of permaculture combination, basilic that grows near tomatoes repel unwanted insects because of its smell. It is also possible to combine beetroots and carrots that are protected by tagetes which are French marigolds with little flowers.

In the future, the community wishes to build a new home to host visitors in the long run and develop new education programs in order to work with interns on apprenticeships.

Images of the Unity Center Schweibenalp

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