My name is Bart Bijen (Dutch) and since 2003 I have been working abroad as I felt I was not made for the standard 9 – 5 pm job lifestyle in the Netherlands. I felt the need for adventure and doing good in the world. I started off volunteering in several countries and discovered I had social entrepreneurial skills. As management is poor in most social projects in development countries, I decided to do an international MBA. In 2006 is was invited to run an orphanage in Brazil. It was the most amazing and craziest experience. To live and work with children from destabilized families, run an organization with hardly any resources and deal with Brazilian bureaucracy and corruption. I managed to grow by setting up a profitable language school to finance the expenses. In 2011 it was time to leave. With my first son born I realized that suburbs of Rio where not the ideal environment to raise a family. After spending 2 years in the Netherlands. I went back to Brazil to set up Eco Caminhos. So, end 2014 we bought a 29-hectare property in the beautiful mountains near Nova Friburgo at the outskirts of the 3 Picos reserve. Nature here is absolutely astonishing. Our property has 3 water sources, a creek, mountains, native Atlantic forest and grasslands. After building our bridge we gained access to a road that brings in town and a public Waldorf school in 20 minutes. Good education, good health care, safe environment and very friendly people.
At Eco Caminhos we are setting up a community of people who want to work towards self-sustainability in food, energy, natural building materials. Currently we have 5 permanent members and a couple of volunteers who work and learn here in the farm. We have bio-constructed a first house and working on a second. We are now experimenting with agroforestry and promote Eco Tourism to generate income. Here a nice video about the work we do: https://youtu.be/nDR7C2astFA
Eco Caminhos wants to become a role model Eco farm community in Brazil and in the world. We want to become fully self-sustainable and supporting those in need. We want to invite underprivileged teenagers, youngsters and children for vocational training. For teenagers (18+) we want to offer internships of 2 years where youngsters learn about bioconstruction, agroforestry, ecotourism skills. Young adults leave the project with a job and the opportunity to live an independent and respectful life. We also want to cooperate with local schools and invite children to leave the concrete and digital cities and experience life on an eco-farm.
We are inviting people now to volunteer with us for as long as people want. We offer accommodation, food and an incredible experience on our farm. People learn how to cultivate, cook and live healthy, bio-construct and live disconnected from TV and Facebook. This simple life has helped many to recover from depressions and trauma’s underlining the importance of people connecting to nature. Several people have made life changing plans and decided to live their lives more sustainable and more connected to nature after leaving us.
People who feel connected to the project and with whom we build up a friendship can buy a plot of land next or close to the Eco Farm and with our support build their own bioconstruction house. We believe that community life is essential for us to grow as human beings. This community life is working together, sharing knowledge, experiences and solving our problems together. We do not believe in shared ownership. Independence gives us some privacy and lowers the pressure of having to decide everything together as a group. To generate income intentional community members can develop their own projects giving them independence.
One of the most exciting projects is our Ecolibrium project. We want to build a multifunctional restaurant / community center in the middle of an agroforestry farm. We want to invite people to come and experience our Eco Farm, our self-sustainable life style, make people excited about cultivation, bioconstruction while enjoying a nice meal made of home-grown food. To get to the farm you can only come by foot, horse or bicycle (expect for those we are unable to do so). The building will also be our communal and education center. The money we make is divided among the community members and used for our vocational training program for underprivileged youth.
If you ever travel to Brazil come and pay us a visit.
Bart Bijen, Eco Caminhos Nova Friburgo, Brasil