First stop: Hurdal

May 25, 2009 at 20:14 2 comments

Home to 30 humans, 10 chickens, 6 sheep, 3 horses, and 1 traveling eco-team disguised as a trumpet-banjo-eggshaker band, Hurdal gave us a fantastic introduction to ecovillage life.  The first thing we all noticed were the kids.  




Half of Hurdal’s 30 residents are under 12 years old, and they make their presence known throughout the village.  With so many children of a similar age, the adults share responsibility for them almost as a reflex – it was hard for us to figure out which kids belonged to which parents.  Many of the people we talked to mentioned this as one of their main reasons for moving to the ecovillage.


Kristin was one of the 5 founders of Hurdal Ecovillage in 2004.  Today she’s the chief greeter and village relations guru.  After picking us up from the train station and driving us to Hurdal, she handed us over to Bjork, who showed us what we’d be helping with during our visit.


One Step's Project - Haul a log or two

One Step's Project - Haul a log or two

Being a very young ercovillage (in many senses of the word), Hurdal is home to a huge amount of energy and ongoing projects.  The central area looks much like a construction site, with planks, sand, bricks, and other raw materials waiting to live up to their potential.  Now that the word on Hurdal has spread, people often call Kristin and offer to donate supplies – that’s how they came by their trusty construction crane.  They have such a surplus that they hope to open a reconstruction store as part of the small business area of the village.

Looking out over Hurdal's land

Looking out over Hurdal's land

Our work involved moving some of these raw materials – a few hundred planks and 2 X 4s – up the hill from the lower village to the upper village building site, where a wooden tipi-ish structure is in the works.  When it’s finished, it will be home to Bjork’s barnehagen (kindergarten) classroom.  We worked with Bjork, Udo, and Christian to find the best way to move the wood up a steep incline and through the forest.  We decided to use the tractor to pull the boards up as far as possible, then transfer them to the village’s 1-horsepower ultimate work machine – his name is Svartan, and he’s a magnificent black stallion.  We hitched a carriage behind him and loaded him up with boards.

Our work horse

Our work horse


Svartan ready for work

Svartan ready for work

 A rough ride, but it seemed to be working – we decided Etienne should sit on top to keep the boards from rattling out on the last uphill push.  Unfortunately for us, and especially for Etienne, Svartan likes to gallop up steep spots, and nobody saw the stump just in front of the carriage wheel.  Etienne went flying (quite acrobatically) off the side and split his hand open on a rock.  It looked pretty gruesome, but the local doctor stitched him up in no time, and Etienne was back on the job the next day.

Vidar gave us an all-original private concert

Vidar gave us an all-original private concert

Besides sharp rocks, we also found many beautiful examples of how a strong community like that of Hurdal can make life more enjoyable, but the best one to mention is the meals shared in the common house.  Between 3 and 5 days a week, one person makes dinner for the 30-35 people at the village.  This duty rotates on a voluntary basis, and accounts of who’s ahead with cooking and who needs to catch up are kept in a ledger, so that everyone has a motivation to occasionally help out.  

How to roll lasagna for 35 people

Ina, who cooked lasagna for us on Thursday, told us she like the system because it takes the pressure off of her for many days each week.  She very much prefers to cook for 35 once every other week than to cook for 5 every night.  This kind of shared responsibility for everyday tasks isn’t just for summer camps – it’s what makes Hurdal a vibrant place to live.  It seemed that sharing responsibility freed up more time for creativity and personal projects. 

Hurdal was a great introduction for our trip, but we had to hit the road early Friday morning.  We got a ride with Carol, who comes to Hurdal to ride Svartan and the other horses.  She brought us to the highway to test our luck hitchhiking into Sweden towards our next stop: Karlstad.


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On the Move Sweden: The great frontier

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jacquie sewell  |  May 26, 2009 at 23:46

    Great update! Keep ’em coming – it makes it seem like we’re there with you. We’re just a little confused about dates – it would be helpful to include the dates of the events you describe. I hope Etienne’s hand is healing alright and that that is the worst of the incidents you encounter.

  • 2. Ishai Silencio  |  June 14, 2011 at 14:19

    I like this. Nice photos and good texts. And what a good idea!


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