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Castilblanco de los Arroyos (Seville), May 22 . .- The ecological settlement Los Portales of Castilblanco de los Arroyos (Seville) has been operating for 36 years in the middle of nature, and during the confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic, they have demonstrated their capacity autonomy thanks to the food and energy they produce and the philosophy based on “cooperate and share”.

This has been assured to Efe by two of the most veteran members of this ecovillage, Jaime Azuara and Kevin Lluch, who arrived in 1986 at the 200-hectare farm, located in the foothills of Sierra Morena, next to historical latifundia and where 40 people live together. from Spain, Belgium, Italy, the Czech Republic, France and Turkey.

In this “sustainable and practical life formula”, as defined by the ecovillages, the Spanish network, made up of 22 settlements of this type, produces vegetables, cheese, oil, wine, fruits and meat that are generated by sheep, goats and pigs, and they are supplied with the necessary energy through the wind, the water and the sun.

In addition to these material aspects, they enhance the spiritual sphere inspired by “Jungian psychology and work with dreams as a way to access the whole.”

They also recall that Los Portales, 17 kilometers from the nearest town, eleven of them by dirt lanes, was founded in 1984 by “pioneers” who were not “especially hippies”, including a banker, lawyers and teachers.

The original idea was to develop innovative ways of life in organic agriculture, holistic education, natural medicines, art, clean energy, economics and personal development, “in continuous progress towards greater sustainability and self-sufficiency.”

Almost complete self-sufficiency has already been achieved, says Azuara, an electrical machine technician and clinical psychologist, while proudly showing the wind and solar installations that provide them with the energy they need together with the ecological washing machine, which moves with the pedaling of a exercise bike, “the most photographed” by journalists who visit them, points between laughs.

“Our way of life is based on two very basic things: cooperating and sharing. The fact of not being alone in the face of a difficult situation like the pandemic makes things much easier for you. It really is the basis. Cultivating the land, generating our own resources It is an advantage. Mutual support after more than 30 years of living together is what helps us “, he adds after recalling the principles with the use of candles to light up.

Then came the first machine, a windshield wiper motor to grind flour, saving them monotonous manual labor. Physical tasks are still in force, such as the collection and stacking of hay to feed the animals, in full swing after a “book” spring.

They also teach with satisfaction the orchards that supply them with fruits and vegetables, such as a five-kilo cabbage collected this week, something never achieved before and that they attribute to the use, for the first time, of “biochar”, a charcoal that they have generated through pyrolysis and which underline its enormous impact on the production of the orchard.


The confinement has only harmed them in that they have not been able to go out to visit relatives or receive the people who signed up for the training workshops they organize, one of the sources of income they have in the ecovillage, of which there are 22 in Spain. and about 10,000 in the world, which shows that “we are not weird bugs,” adds the psychologist Lluch, who consulted in Seville.

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The pandemic also forced them to create a “little school” for children, eliminate the habit of going every Saturday to take the garbage to town and buy the few external items they need, they explain before showing their surprise because this week it is mandatory to go with mask, which have not used throughout the health crisis, they say.

Lluch affirms that ecovillages, “small islands of the future”, represent a way of life that is gaining popularity around the world, especially in northern Europe, and is a “counterweight to the urban communities that are so competitive and individualistic” prevailing in the society.

The psychologist acknowledges that ecovillages, many of which are unsuccessful, do not prosper, and considers the human aspect of the relationship “to be a great challenge” and that “a lot of perseverance, courage and transparency” is needed to overcome “quarrels and conflicts” and enhance “collective intelligence”.

In Los Portales they have opted, after experimenting with different systems, for “sociocracy” as a form of organization, which is being implanted in numerous ecovillages and which involves operating based on circles according to tasks such as agriculture, communication or the regeneration of the territory , and two of whose managers form another circle in which group decisions are made after solving all the objections that arise, Lluch summarizes.

The psychologist remembers with humor the visits of neighboring farms such as Luis Ybarra after the sale of Cruzcampo in the 90’s of the previous century and the wine that his wife, surnamed Osborne, gave them, and highlights the support they had from the mayor of Castilblanco and the local priest, who were invited to teach the children of the ecovillage the concept of religion.

One of the examples that they share to share and cause less impact is the fact of having seven cars for the forty inhabitants of the ecovillage and four washing machines for all, and this pandemic has been the propitious occasion to “connect with the resources we have and have the essential “and” reaffirm “the way of life they have chosen. “It doesn’t take much to live well,” says Azuara.

“Attention to each person is essential for the integral and healthy development of the community. The power of human communities to unite and co-design their own path to the future is seen as an important driving force for positive change,” concludes the Network. Iberica from Ecovillages.

Manuel Rus