It’s no secret that today’s aggressive agricultural techniques can take a heavy toll on the environment, both on the land used for crops and livestock, and in the surrounding atmosphere.
The world’s first off-grid village capable of producing its own energy, water and food are set to be erected in Almere, the Netherlands, as early as this summer. ReGen Villages, in partnership with Danish architecture firm Effekt, will help address a number of the world’s pressing issues; the rising population, climate change, and limited resources.
Of course, communal farms aren’t exactly a new idea, with communities like the Amish people and more recent kinds of farming collectives having long lived off the grid. But we’re not talking about another attempt to recreate simple, pastoral living here.
The off-grid villages will feature a number of greenhouses that would allow residents to grow food and recycle waste. Some of the greenhouses will feature high-tech, vertical farms and indoor vegetable gardens. A number of outdoor seasonal gardens will also be integrated into the village.
Resident waste will be recycled and used to feed livestock and soldier flies – a sustainable source of food for the fish – while the fish waste will be used to fertilize an aquaculture system, which in turn, feeds the indoor garden plants. Finally, livestock waste will fertilize the outdoor seasonal gardens.
“We are redefining residential real-estate development by creating these regenerative neighborhoods, looking at first these greenfield pieces of farmland where we can produce more organic food, more clean water, more clean energy, and mitigate more waste than if we just left that land to grow organic food or do permaculture there,” Ehrlich says.
According to RenGen’s calculations, over the course of the year, these high-tech farming systems will be able to produce well over 10 times the amount of crops using the same space, with 90% less water.
“We anticipate literally tons of abundant organic food every year—from vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, fish, eggs, chicken, small animal dairy, and protein—that can continually grow and yield in the vertical garden systems all year long,” Ehrlich explains.
Solar panels and other sustainable energy solutions will be utilized to provide residents with 24/7 energy and hot water. In order to maintain these systems, families within the community will need to maintain the village’s ecosystem. Operating a greenhouse, maintaining the solar panels and tending the livestock are but a few of the responsibilities families will need to assume.
A total of 100 pilot homes will be built in Almere, Netherlands, later this year. If the project proves to be successful, the ReGen hopes to launch a number of other pilot villages in countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, China, the UAE and potentially the African continent.