The Lynedoch EcoVillage
The Lynedoch EcoVillage is the first ecologically designed, socially mixed intentional community in South Africa. It is located in the wine country near Stellenbosch, 30 minutes drive inland from Cape Town. The initial business model could not raise sufficient capital to cover the eco-innovation and facilitation processes that were central to the project. So the founders separated the project’s eco-social development dimension from its property development side.
The first step was a school, funded by the Government, with 475 places serving the families of local farm workers. For pre-school children they built a Montessori kindergarten. They then partnered with the nearby Stellenbosch University, to establish a Sustainability Institute in a converted hotel in the centre of the village. The Institute runs a Masters course in sustainable development, whose practical projects and related research programme focus on the village, and provide the ecological research and community development support for the project.
What to the banks and local authorities appeared an unsustainable overhead, was shifted into a research and educational economy based on fees and grant funding. It has even inspired a UK-based entrepreneur, Sally Wilton, to open an eco-cinema in Kensal Rise, London, whose profits go to fund the Lynedoch Institute.
Restructured in this way, the property development finance was forthcoming. An ecological infrastructure has been laid down and 35 houses are now completed in Phase 1 (40 per cent of them subsidized through a Government programme). The new owners have formed a Home Owners Association to run the village and guide its second stage.