Narara Ecovillage

Narara, NSW

Narara Ecovillage is an intergenerational residential community on a 63-hectare site on the Central Coast of NSW, formerly occupied by the Gosford Horticultural Institute. Members of the Narara Ecovillage Cooperative plan to create a community of more than 300 people in more than 150 homes. Homes will occupy about one fifth of the site, agriculture and common gardens will take up another fifth and the rest will be retained as native bushland.

Categories: Cooperatives; intentional communities

 

About the project

 

Narara Ecovillage is an intergenerational residential community on a 63-hectare site on the Central Coast of NSW, formerly occupied by the Gosford Horticultural Institute. Members of the Narara Ecovillage Cooperative plan to create a community of more than 300 people in more than 150 homes. Homes will occupy about one fifth of the site, agriculture and common gardens will take up another fifth and the rest will be retained as native bushland.

 

The development is phased in 3 stages. Stage 1 is in progress and will include 42 standard blocks as well as 18 townhouses in the heart of the ecovillage. There are also more than 50 existing structures, including two residential dwellings, a Visitors Centre, offices, and greenhouses, sheds, garages and workshops.

 

Members share a common goal of becoming more socially, culturally, economically, and ecologically sustainable. The development received a $1.2 million grant from the Federal Government to fund an innovative solar smart grid, it will manage its own potable water, stormwater and sewage systems, and buildings are being constructed to meet stringent sustainable building standards.

 

The community

 

The ecovillage community is made up of about 180 people, ranging in age from newborns to late 70s, including about 30 kids. Members are diverse, and include plumbers and bankers, property valuers and landscapers, social workers and midwives.

 

Members have put a lot of effort into building the community, even before the first homes were constructed. The goal is to encourage neighbourly interaction while respecting people’s privacy.

 

The existing Visitors Centre has a kitchen that houses frequent communal dinners. In addition to ‘pot luck’ celebrations, a varying team of members volunteer to cook and clean up once a month for their future neighbours.

 

Project snapshot
What is shared?
How did it happen?
Legalities

Governance

Cooperative members have shared ownership of all the land beyond lot boundaries, including greenhouses, outbuildings and workshops that are perfect for food production and cottage industries. The aspiration is to develop significant common facilities, including cafes, a members’ lounge, and learning, business and wellness centres.

Founder Lyndall Parris began speaking publicly about her vision for community living in the late 1990s and an initial Association was established in 2004. However, it took until 2012 before Gosford Horticultural Institute site was acquired by 25 founding members for $5 million. A Development Application for Stage 1 was submitted in 2013 and approved in 2014. House construction began in 2018 and the first families moved in during 2019.

To join the cooperative, members pay an initial $30,000 share, which acts as a deposit on a lot and gives access to the shared land and facilities. Members need to have the intention to build on a lot and agree to do 52 hours work per year to help the cooperative. If a member leaves, their share is repurchased by the cooperative and their property can be sold to anyone, although the new buyer has to buy a share in the cooperative.

The cooperative has a Board of Directors, elected by the membership. Decisions are made using a process called sociocracy. This model allows everyone to be heard and decisions to be made transparently and fairly. It is a facilitated process that seeks responses that are ‘good enough for now’ and ‘safe enough to try’.

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