By Nina Baumgartner
This summer I spent two months at the permaculture community of Balmeggberg, in the Emmental region of Switzerland. It’s a glorious spot, 1000m up a mountain where six adults and their four children live permanently and hundreds of other people orbit around them.
During this time I had an insight into the implementation of the permaculture principles within this specific habitat and community, helping them out with anything that needed to be done. I was personally very eager to learn even the smallest of the details, and I was lucky to find a group of people happy to share their knowledge and love for the place.
The summer jobs in Balmeggberg. included gardening the three hectares of cultivated land, harvesting vegetables, leaves, flowers and berries, composting, pruning, feeding rabbits, ducks, chickens and sheep, building, repairing, cooking and everything else country life brings. Of course music and fun were also important factors of this happy equation.
In Balmeggberg the main goal is not to obtain total self-sufficiency but rather to find and keep a dynamic balance between what lies within the community and the outside world.
In this way the community can experiment with food production and efficiency, without relying 100% on the success of plant growth or harvesting for living, and in most cases people have part-time jobs in the world below.
Visitors of Balmeggberg can be inspired both through physical and spiritual work (i.e. woofing, courses of yoga and poi, sweat lodges etc.). For those in search for more intellectual stimulation they run a two-week Permaculture Design course. Anyone seeking help with a personal permaculture project can also ask for a consultancy with the experienced group of permaculturalists Toni, Marco, Sherpa and Elena at “Plano Futuro – Systeme zum Glück” (=system with happiness) www.planofuturo.ch
I reached Balmeggberg looking forward to learning more about permaculture and about my personal adequacy to this system. Now that my experience in Balmeggberg is finished I can say that, more than learning about the permaculture approach, I was happier to have found a deep connection within myself, with the place and with the others around me – I found the spirit of permaculture.
For more info www.balmeggberg.ch (in German)