Learn here more about projects and web links, collected from sites that cover a wide range of online communities around the globe.
The site, as implied by its name, is focused on sustainable development and small scale agricultural production; in essence, it is about agricultural development in an urban environment, something that involves smaller spaces and novel methods of cultivation and resource management. In other words, it is about how everyone can have their own patch and cultivate it to sustain their family.
Urbansustainableliving, offers a plethora of information classified in two main categories; one is about the choice of the material needed for the creation of our garden and one about the achievement of sustainable development. Thus, in the first category the visitor can find advice for various subjects such as how to choose the kind of fertilizers that can be used, how to build vegetable plots etc. while in the second, he can seek more specific information for subjects such as the utilization of alternative energy sources, the recycling of products etc. As is the case with all self-respecting content sites, a rather small but particularly active community has been created around Urbansustainableliving with its members exchanging views through a specialized forum.
Riverford is a vegetable box scheme company that delivers its products directly to customers. It was founded in the mid ‘80s and now delivers more than 40,000 boxes per week. In the 1970s it was the first farm in the United Kingdom where the public could openly visit, watch and eventually participate in the harvesting and now the company works with organic farms so their products can be of maximum quality. The products are distributed through a privately owned network thus maintaining a personal relationship with customers.
At the web site the visitor can learn about the plethora of products available and their combination in box schemes which are delivered in a daily basis. Besides vegetables and fruit, meat can also be delivered; this meat comes from the farm’s organic feed livestock. There is also a section with recipes and the visitor can book a visit at the farm and see in person the cultivation methods. An exceptional model of ethical entrepreneurship that is slowly starting to spread worldwide.
Local Harvest is an e-marketplace of agricultural products and foods in general that cooperates with small family farms in the USA. The majority of the products available through the site is ecologically cultivated and there is emphasis to the collaboration with farms that promote sustainable development. In the USA, as in other countries, the agricultural products sold in super markets need between four and seven days from harvest to shelf, which results in a dramatic deterioration of their quality; furthermore, only 18% of the retail price goes to the producer.
The site was founded in 1998 and already has 20,000 collaborating farms. The visitor can consult a detailed map for each area or ZIP code and find the closest collaborating farms as well as read information about each of them and reviews from customers who have bought their products. The products themselves come from a wide range that includes fruit and vegetables, drinks, seeds for potential farmers, dairy, soaps, sweets etc. Also provided, is a forum where the participants are mostly producers and hundreds of blogs with posts by the producers themselves.
Living Routes is an organization offering students the opportunity to voluntarily participate in agricultural work in various ecovillages. The purpose of the initiative is to sensitize the younger generation about the challenges that the environment is facing from human intervention and uncontrolled urban growth and at the same time educate them in the principles of ethical entrepreneurship. Through work, trainees learn about concepts such as organic farming, renewable energy, ecological design of buildings, healthy foods, consensual decision making, etc.
The web site visitor can be informed about the various programs available and when and where they take place with analytical information for each program; information such as the kind of activities involved or the purpose of each program as well as the program’s duration (extending up to 14 weeks), apply for participation, or read blog postings about the experiences of other students that have participated in these programs.
The concept of intentional communities is based on the idea of participating in and contributing to a place’s common matters and is particularly strong in small settlements, where ties among the members of a community are also very strong; the members of such communities share common beliefs which can vary from social issues to religious or political affairs. Among the various applications of this idea, one of the most widespread is that of ecovillages.
The web site ic.org has been online since 1996 and it attempts to record the entirety of alternative communities that are spread all over the world. Although its main use is that of a directory, it also provides a lot of information about the philosophy behind the creation of such communities; its best application as a source of such information being its very detailed wiki. Of particular interest is also the option of buying books from a very broad spectrum of subjects including methods of organizing and managing such communities, sustainable development etc.
Helpx is directed to people interested in exchanging their vacation for work, a quite popular concept according to which boarders, instead of paying to live in a hotel, stay at some private home and in exchange for accommodation and food they help in various everyday jobs. The advantage of such a vacation is that visitors come in contact with a place’s everyday life and assimilate its cultural elements.
The site is targeted to both travelers and hosts: hosts describe the sort of the jobs they need help with (jobs varying from agricultural work to the construction of a building or the repair of a vehicle) and provide information about the area they are located; potential travelers can see reviews from others who have stayed in the particular residence or pictures from the accommodation and surrounding area and also find potential fellow travelers wishing to visit this area.
Airbnb (from Air Bed and Breakfast) is a site that provides users the opportunity to rent their homes as a whole or in part. Potential renters set the dates they want to use the residence and the residence’s desired location and the site returns various possibilities; if they see something they like, they can communicate directly with the residence’s owner. Both the owner and the renters evaluate each other and these evaluations are used as a protective measure against possible unpleasant situations; this model’s advantage is that potential renters can find much cheaper prices than they would in, e.g. a hotel as well as much better services (since their lodgings will be a normal, living home).
Furthermore, and because of a problem that came up in June 2011 and involved certain renters, the site has adopted a $50,000 security policy for the owners; this can partly alleviate the fears some owners might have when they consider offering their homes for rent.