From August 1st to August 15th 2022, a permaculture design certification course took place at Qiandao Lake Ecovillage which is located in the southwest of the Thousand Island (Qiandao) Lake Zhejiang Province, China. 44 Participants from different areas of China spent 15 days together learning permaculture principles. We worked in groups to design group projects and gained hands-on experiences making compost piles, natural buildings, and gardens.
Qiandao Lake Ecovillage was founded in April 2014. In September 2013, Venerable Master Konghai was invited by the local county magistrate to serve as the consultant for a government-led project which intended to establish a learning center for traditional Chinese Culture. Master Konghai held deep care for the planet and asked the magistrate to consider making an ecovillage on Qiandao Lake. The local government responded swiftly in a few days and provided convenience for him to visit several possible locations. After evaluating all the places, Master Konghai decided to set a piece of land in a valley. The place was beautiful and quite secluded. 20 years ago, local villagers migrated out of nearby villages to cooperate with the government’s plan for building the Xin’anjiang Reservoir. Therefore, land here had been returned to nature for 20 years before a group of 20 young people came as pioneers for an ecovillage.
At first, there was no architecture except for a thatched shed which later became the ecovillage’s tool hut. 20 young ecovillagers lived in the shed which leaked rain on rainy days. They started growing food and created initial infrastructures for an ecovillage. The local government played a vital role in making electricity accessible, followed by an 800,000 yuan (approximately 112,000 USD) investment helping to build the road connecting the ecovillage to its nearby village.
“When you have a truly selfless intention to benefit the whole world, benevolent forces will synchronize together to support you”Master Konghai
Nowadays, around 25 regular residents dwell at Qiandao Lake Ecovillage. They carry out courses and workshops for making ecovillages, learning principles about the Tao, and practicing a lifestyle that is centered on spiritual growth. The place had been transforming its residents and visitors, incubating Earth Seeds that create eco projects all over the country. Core courses that took central place for residents and visitors included Mysteries of Dao De Jing Revealed, No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth, and Theory and Practices for Building Ecovillages. Such shared learnings brought all villagers together and provided them with resources for solving disagreements in their community.
Ecologically, Qiandao village had been practicing natural farming since its beginning. Experienced teachers of natural farming and permaculture were invited periodically to give courses. The village has also been storing rainwater, practicing a zero-waste lifestyle, using a banana circle to process grey water, and maintaining their composting toilets. In recent years, natural buildings have also become a key feature and strength. Several small self-circulating systems which consist of natural buildings, rainwater collectors, gardens, and animals had been created by residents near the ecovillage’s center region. The team is now planning an outdoor classroom for children’s education.
Qiandao Ecovillage plants seeds of hope by making itself an example of living in harmony with nature, which is the teaching of both permaculture and the Tao. We wish it to keep flourishing and transform more visitors who are nourished by this land. There’s no time like now that the planet urges us to observe its laws and come into alignment with the principles of Heaven and the Earth.
About the Author
Yuting Yin, University of California Davis
Yuting is a Ph.D. student of anthropology at the University of California Davis. She is an ecovillage researcher and focuses on studying ecovillages in China. She has studied mental health and organized support groups for people who struggle with eating disorders. Her interest in mind-body well-being leads her to explore ecovillages since 2016. After two years of living in a cooperative living community in Davis, California. Currently, her research journey is taking her to deepen her roots in her native cultural tradition and tap into the power of practicing what is learned along the way.