An island in the sea

June 25, 2009 at 09:10 1 comment

Suderbyn Ecovillage - our home for three weeks

Suderbyn Ecovillage - our home for three weeks

Writer’s note:  we’re getting backlogged in our journal entries here, sorry to keep you waiting!  We’re currently outside of Malmo and should have time to bring the blog up to date with reality. Until then, a sneak peek at our three weeks on Gotland, off the east coast of Sweden.

Monday, June 1 – After three days’ visit in Stockholm, in which the One Step Beyond team grew from 3 to 6 (our filmmaker, sound engineer, and nomadic man of the forest arrived), it came time to head off on our first extended stop of the trip.  We’d arranged to stay for three weeks on Gotland, a very large island off the east coast of Sweden, almost as close to Latvia as it is to Sweden.  Visby, the main city, has been at times a trading center, Viking stronghold, and pirates’ nest.  These days it’s more of a nest for tourists, but beautiful nonetheless.

Suderbyn ecovillage is the first place of its kind on Gotland.  Started just a year ago, Suderbyn is run at the moment by Robert and Ingrid, our generous hosts.

The most noticeable aspects of Suderbyn’s acreage are the seven horseshoe-shaped berms of earth covering 640 meters (200o feet) (see the design here). At 2 meters high, they dominate the horizon.  They’ve been planted with trees and shrubs that will eventually grow up and cover the slopes, but for now they are mostly bare earth.  Each horseshoe faces south and houses a protected area within its arms.  Sheltered from the wind and insulated by the earth, these spaces will function like natural greenhouses, keeping in the heat and allowing plants to grow deeper into the cold season.

Tending the solar cooker - this thing could melt your face off

Tending the solar cooker - this thing could melt your face off

One of Robert and Ingrid’s main goals is to show that sustainable living can be fun and enjoyable.  They’ve built many whimsical structures on the property, including a rocketship for housing the compost from the outhouse,  and have plans for many more.

They also have two solar cookers, great for harnessing the power of the long sunny days of summer.  The parabolic cooker above is specially designed to focus the light of the sun onto a specific point.  On a sunny day, it gets hot enough to make a stirfry (or to burn through the support post, which we almost did!).

The more traditional solar oven - less capable of melting your face off, better at making tasty slow-cooked food

The more traditional solar oven - less capable of melting your face off, better at making tasty slow-cooked food

Suderbyn also has a type of solar oven that more people have seen.  It’s essentially an enclosed box surrounded by reflective panels.  With a dark pot inside, the cooking temperature can easily reach boiling, hot enough to cook anything.  We cooked rice and beans during our stay, but it’s possible to work with much more in a solar oven – some friends of mine have even used theirs for canning fruits and jams.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Solar Cooking  |  December 21, 2009 at 02:02

    Thank You! solar cookers is awesome! I will refer everyone I know. It is practical especially to reserve our natural resources, due to climate change nowadays.

    Reply

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