Roger Vaughn shares how the Swedish permaculture centre, Ecotopia was created. Using the principle observe & interact before any design was created, the centre demonstrates permaculture from many angles, inspiring others to create their own holistic and permaculture areas.
Ecotopia, named after and deeply inspired by Ernest Callenbach’s utopian novel of the same name, is a knowledge centre focused on permaculture and sustainable development in Sweden, run by social entrepreneurs Karin Malmgren and Roland Birgersson. The operation is intended to help bring about a sustainable future and explore holistic solutions.
When talking to Karin and Roland, one word comes up in conversation more frequently than any other: Inspire. Karin speaks to me about helping to encourage the world through the period of transition from industrial to post-industrial, with Ecotopia demonstrating just how much people can do with a holistic view of a plot of land and a commitment to permaculture.
Karin’s own training in permaculture is based on a certification obtained in Austria under the tutelage of Ronny Wytek, a teacher certified by Bill Mollison, at the Keimblatt Ökodorf Projektcentrum in Steiermark. She stresses the importance of seeking to maintain a high quality in teaching and comprehension since the principles of permaculture are somewhat open to interpretation. One strand of Ecotopia’s efforts to spread permaculture and sustainable ideas and skills is through the provision of its own courses.
Ecotopia sits on 7 hectares (17.3 acres) of land in Sweden’s Skåne county, on the southernmost tip of Sweden at a latitude comparable with northern England. On the property is a 19thcentury Swedish farmhouse of the common regional style referred to as a ‘skånelänga’, a long crofter’s cottage. The traditional form is in a single-level large U-shape, with a house, stables and barns comprising each of the sides.