Hua Dao is a two-year-old ecovillage located in Chongzhou, Chengdu, China. It was in Dec 2013, at a conference about private enterprises’ cultural heritage and social responsibility, several entrepreneurs proposed the initial idea of Hua Dao. They saw the systematic conflicts in human relationships with nature, other people and oneself. Recognizing the societal and development challenges caused by western materialism, they envisioned an ecovillage to draw like-minded people and together explore an alternative model that inherits time tested wisdom in Chinese culture. “Hua” translates to China, Chinese tradition and culture, whilst “Dao” refers to the way, which represents nature and innovation. “Hua Dao” is therefore the pathway to inherit and innovate Chinese civilization.”
The founders pulled in their own resources and signed up friends and relatives who bought in the sustainability vision and who were willing to fund construction in return for community membership. After two years of difficult development of infrastructure, the original idea finally turned into an ecovillage with about 40 acres farmland, and about 9 acres living area with two apartment buildings and a separate community center.
Fostering human connections is at the core of the village’s design. The two buildings are in octangle shape, with communal space in the quad yard and on each floor. The community kitchen is a reserved space for members to mingle with each other through meals, games, celebrations and other events. The community center is equipped with conference amenities suitable for meetings, performances and trainings.
The 40-acres farmland is doing organic farming. It’s divided into patches and rotates crops seasonally. Two community gardens are multi-cropped on smaller patches. Green manure and compost fertilizer are being used. In fall 2018, the community kitchen started operation. It uses fresh produce from the gardens daily, adding one critical element to complete a local food train.
Currently the ecovillage integrates with local community largely through hiring hands from nearby villages. A half dozen such contract staff work in Hua Dao daily but don’t live on the site. More helpers are hired for seasonal field work.
The community of permanent residents is still very small but with great potential to grow. Currently there are 4 regular residents including 3 full-time staff of the project team and one newly joined outside member. There is a sense of family here and people look after each other. They are conscious about living in a low carbon way. Besides managing the farm and the property, the staff team has also been working with other organizations to host small group events and workshops on sustainability theme. These activities enrich the life of residents here, bring in domestic and international participants and help spread the vision of Hua Dao.
Hua Dao is now poised for a new stage of development. As the Chinese society is transforming towards ecological civilization and addressing the problems of urbanization and rural degradation, Hua Dao may serve as an ideal test bed for developing sustainable communities at local scale, especially in vicinity of large cities.
Fan Lin, Hua Dao ecovillage Chongzhou, Chengdu, China