Introducing Ananda Gaorii Spiritual Community
We are a mix of about 20 part and full time residents living on a ten hectare organic farm and retreat center located in Vig, near Holbæk, an hour west of Copenhagen. Ananda Gaorii is a project of Ananda Marga, a spiritual and social organisation promoting self-realisation through the practice of yoga, meditation and social service.
Our project began in 1987 as what is known in Ananda Marga as a “Master Unit”. A master unit is a community focused rural development project that ideally contains an ashram, a school, a children’s home, a farm, a medical center, a variety of cottage industries and various other projects aimed at benefitting the local community such as seed banks, animal refuges, research centers, etc. Ananda Marga has many such projects around the world mostly in third world countries where they provide relief and educational and medical facilities for needy communities and help them with training and new ideas (you are welcome to visit www.amurt.net for more information about such projects).
Being situated in a developed country such as Denmark, however, we found ourselves surrounded by a community who were mostly better off than we were, at least materially. Limited by lack of money and skilled volunteers, our project developed very slowly for many years as we gradually transformed the old farm buildings into meditation halls, dormitories, kitchen and dining facilities. During these years Ananda Gaorii functioned mostly as an opportunity for hardship training and karma burning for a very small number of volunteers and a venue for small retreats for our local members.
Importantly, during this time we were able to set up an organic bakery which produces gluten-free products. Called Natur Bageriet (now Landbageriet), this bakery distributes gluten-free products around Copenhagen as well as to our own shops in Copenhagen and Rørvig. The income from the bakery is presently our main means of financial support and we are using it to steadily upgrade our facilities. We also have a small orchard where we grow fruit for ourselves and the bakery. The rest of the land we are leasing to a local organic farmer until we have people and skills to do it ourselves.
In 2010 the speed of development began to accelerate when we hosted an international convention on the subject of Prout. Prout is an alternative economic theory based on spiritual values which emphasizes cooperatives, decentralized economy and economic democracy. 230 people attended the week long event which, combined with the growing sense of crisis in the world around us, created a strong stimulus for us to expand our activities beyond holding occasional retreats.
In 2012, we faced up to the fact that we knew very little about permaculture, farming, alternative energy or pretty much anything except yoga, prout, education and baking. We decided to remedy this situation and attract knowledge and people by hosting workshops on permaculture, forest gardening, intentional community design and so on. We would combine these workshops with a daily routine of yoga and meditation and locate them in the wider context and worldview of Prout. The idea worked well and our visiting trainers and participants helped us create a permaculture design for the community and start work on making our own forest garden.
As soon as our new sense of direction began to take shape it began attracting others as well. Participants in the workshops enjoyed returning and helping with the gardening and renovation work and many were attracted to the mix of healthy environment, spiritual routine and a sense of being able to participate in creating something new and exciting. Now we have a growing pool of talented young friends who are helping us helping us become energy self-sufficient and set up research and teaching projects.
Although we are babies in the areas of sustainable food growing, house-building, energy, etc. our strong points include our ashram lifestyle, our seminar facilities and our bright vision for a holistic future. We plan to continue hosting workshops in the areas where we need to develop so, in 2014, we are holding a series Ecovillage Design Workshops, hopefully with input from other members of LØS. Some of our new members have also offered to run courses in renewable energy system design and other exciting subjects. All our courses include a daily spiritual routine. Also in 2014 we will apply to Odsherred Kommune for an ecovillage license and have already begun approaching them on this subject.
So that is pretty much where we are at the moment. We look forward very much to getting to know other ecovillages and progressive people in the region and working together to provide some inspiring examples of how to do it differently.