Jobs and society  |  Successes  |  03.07.2013

Amayuelas de Abajo: the eco-friendly return to the Spanish rural areas

Given the difficult social and economic situation in Spain and with a will to build new and sustainable alternatives, many (young) people are returning to the over 3.000 Spanish villages that were abandoned during the rural depopulation of the 1950s and 1970s. Amayuelas de Abajo (Palencia, Castilla León) is an example of how villages can restart their activity and create an excellent framework for sustainable development, green jobs creation and environmental education and research.

The so-called process of “neo-ruralisation” stands for a different way of living through the creation of eco-villages, communities with sustainable and not compulsive consumption life styles. These communities are trying to restore the “traditional rural way of going things” and are becoming more popular due to the economic crisis and the increase in awareness that we cannot continue living with the current levels of natural destruction.

During the 80s only one family inhabited Amayuelas de Abajo, but throughout the 90s a group of people decided to establish there and to restart its economic and socio-cultural activities as an eco-village. The experience of Amayuelas de Abajo is an example of how villages can reorient themself to create an excellent framework for sustainable development, green job creation and environmental education and research.

These are the main features of Amayuelas del Abajo eco-village:

  • The construction of bioclimatic houses: All the new constructions used local, not toxic and natural materials and were built with natural techniques (usage of high-strength compressed earth blocks, adobe brick and mud walls) to make them bioclimatic. Solar panels were placed in all houses in order for them to become energy independent.
  • The community shows a high awareness of the importance of low energy and water consumption that is combined with the usage of renewable energy sources and water treatment processes.
  • The population of Amyuelas de Abajo is constantly looking for new techniques to better develop their organic agriculture and organic stock farming activities. Examples of these are the creation of an irrigation system using residual water or of a natural compost with organic waste.
  • The community has initiated many new projects that have also provided new green jobs to the inhabitants. Among other projects, Amayuelas del Abajo has adapted 12 hectares of land for organic farming and animal husbandry purposes; it is producing a monthly Eco-basket to cover the village’s necessities (the surpluses are sold on the local market); it has build a wood-burning oven to produce high quality, organic bread; and has set up a project to restore the local threatened species and native seeds.
  • This eco-village also established the first rural University in Spain, Universidad Rural Pablo Freire. The university’s aim is to bring back the rural and ecological culture without relinquishing the advantages that technology provides. To this end, the university implements practical projects and education courses in rural areas in order to build alternatives to improve their quality of life. At the same time, the university invests in several own research lines (ecological buildings, waste management, organic agriculture and farming and local seeds) to find new and better techniques to improve their sustainable way of living.
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