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Environment The People Rejecting Mainstream Living

CFC

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‘We Didn’t Trust the Rest of the World to Look After Us Properly’
THE PEOPLE REJECTING MAINSTREAM LIVING

Douglas Whitbread
31 July 2020

How Wales’ nature-led smallholdings came of age during the COVID-19 crisis and point to a new way of living in a planet under threat

It’s a few weeks into lockdown. Over a patchy Skype call, I watch as Matthew Watkinson trudges up the slopes of his off-the-grid property in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.

On most days, the windswept hillside above Newport Beach feels wild and rugged – a sea of green hues punctuated by craggy ridges. At this time, while city dwellers remain cooped up in cul-de-sacs and apartment blocks, it appears like a Celtic Shangri-La.

“We didn’t really trust the rest of the world to look after us properly,” Matthew says about why he and his family left their suburban home in Essex for Pembrokeshire. “We weren’t really predicting a viral pandemic like this, but we were concerned.”

The 2008 financial crisis was a wake-up call. He and his wife were worried about species decline and climate change. But they felt further unease as the global economy faltered.

“I’m not really a prepping, conspiracy theorist type person, but mainstream science was telling us there’s a big problem environmentally,” he says. “It just struck me that I didn’t want to be that reliant on all these massive corporations when there’s a different way.”

Today, his mostly timber home – built from a recycled horse lorry – a camper van and two flat bed trailers, blend into the landscape. But, amid the fern and gorse, the family of four have enough resources to satisfy their basic requirements.

Solar panels, a wind turbine, firewood and a biogas digestor provide their energy. A spring supplies them with fresh water, and honey and egg sales generate income. Within a few years, the land should also provide most of their food.

“I don’t think we could have done a better job of making sure the family was in the best position for something like this,” Matthew says, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic and looming UK recession, likely to be the worst for 300 years.

“We don’t have a mortgage, we don’t have utility bills, so we’re not worrying about electricity or water or losing our house through repossession or anything like that. We’re not totally separate from society… but we’re more insulated than most.”



Read on below:

 

ageingpartyfiend

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Mar 5, 2011
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^^^ Have got some longterm friends who were one of the early developers at Lammas ecovillage and still live there

Have also hung out at this place on and offs since the mid 90's and have a numver of friends living there - -quite hardcore living, very interesting environment (and some legendary parties o_O:cool:

 
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Atelier3

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Sep 28, 2019
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When I was at Uni there was a student who made a treehouse in the woods at the back of campus and lived in it for the whole 3 years he was a student. I remember thinking he was insane but respecting his commitment to his environmental ideals.
 
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Alex_1991

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Dec 22, 2015
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Ontario, Canada
I have a deep respect for the people who can actually go off the grid like this, because it's people like this that are going to have the skills and know how to lead us on when the world collapses. It may happen, you know? Maybe not this year, maybe not in 10 or even 50 but I do think that we are a decaying society. Not to mention a parasitic species (overall, not speaking towards any one individual... mostly) and we have sapped the brunt of the worlds accessible resources by todays technology in just the 20th-early-21st century alone. Perhaps the 19th century was a precursor as well.

It's people who learn to hack it out and survive like this that are going to make it while the rest of us basically become toddlers again living in squalor, fear, violence, whatever it is. Whatever happens whether its total economic shutdown (which is nearly happening now), major wars escalating to global levels and nuclear weapons [DPRK look out motherfuckers mr. kim (we'll) bomb you first], food and water scarcity, major relocations and environmental disasters due to climate change..... all 3.. something we can't predict..

Whatever happens these guys have the right idea. I wish I had to balls to do what they do, but I'm sitting in the comfort of a heated, resource sucking home hooked into my phone and computer like most everyone I know. I dont own a car but I sure get in them a lot cause hey lets go out or I need a ride or whatever. I play into the prefab world which is destroying us.. or maybe I'm being a little hard on myself I don't know. Just want to give kudos to the ones who are doing this, they're tough motherfuckers and they will be the majority someday, out of necessity.

I think most of the world is going to die or at least the quality of life will drop to unprecedented levels and our generation (we're mostly a younger crowd here) will probably see it happen. It's our kids and grand kids who are gonna have to pick up the torch and it's unfair. I don't like the whole "fuck the boomers and being a millenial is so hard" narrative but there is some validity to it. We are the first generation (maybe second gen x has issues too) who are seeing major decline comparatively to past generations. It will only get harsher from here. These Gen Z kids I see around are so lost and wired in, but so smart and aware too. Its a disparity that I think will be solved as we all age and the gen after Z comes into play. It's time to pick up or fuck off cause we're fucking ourselves and the world. Imagine how all these animals who will never exist again feel because we destroyed them, they wont. They'll never be again, and maybe we deserve the same fate (many of us anyway).

Wow that turned into quite the rant.
 

thujone

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i've been mulling over my own off-grid plans lately and have come to the realization that the only thing that matters is energy. if you can't harvest energy from your local environment then your options are either having it brought in (propane, gasoline, kerosene) or resigning yourself to a pre-industrial lifestyle which is an extremely unpleasant way to live out in the boondocks.

it's very difficult to produce the amount of calories a single person needs from the local environment without either 1) a lot of land and manpower/energy or 2) a lot of energy

Whatever happens these guys have the right idea. I wish I had to balls to do what they do, but I'm sitting in the comfort of a heated, resource sucking home hooked into my phone and computer like most everyone I know. I dont own a car but I sure get in them a lot cause hey lets go out or I need a ride or whatever. I play into the prefab world which is destroying us.. or maybe I'm being a little hard on myself I don't know. Just want to give kudos to the ones who are doing this, they're tough motherfuckers and they will be the majority someday, out of necessity.
if you live in a house you already have the means to insulate yourself from supply shocks. you can install a deep freezer in the basement to store months of protein reserves, fill the pantry with grains and dried legumes to provide months of fibre and carbs, and fill the garage with kerosene and a portable generator to power all your shit for months.

you don't need to jump into the whole off-grid lifestyle to adopt the benefits of it at home.
 
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