We are a large community of people who share an old friary, and 70 acres of Suffolk farmland. We share the workload to be nearly self sufficient in food and energy. Our water is heated by a large wood fired biomass boiler we call the dragon and supplemented by a ground source heat pump. A gas fired boiler is used as a last resort back up. We have an array of 120 solar PV panels to provide our electricity and our water comes from our own borehole with mains water back up. All the members have their own private room or rooms. So a family with one or two children are likely to have four rooms. A single person may have one or two rooms depending on their invested capital. Main meals are eaten together in our big communal kitchen/dining room, using our own meat, vegetables, pulses and fruit. Meals are prepared under our rota job system by whomever signs up to cook. The more vegetarians who decide to cook the more meals will become vegetarian. The more meat eaters sign up the more meat will be consumed. The range of food is varied and excellent. Special dietary needs are catered for whenever possible. To make all this happen we each try to do around 15 hours community work a week, jobs include our domestic rota jobs and the mundane and the skilled – and all are valuable! Community work includes milking, cheese making, construction projects, caring for the farm machinery and our animals, growing food, cooking, cleaning, sewing, maintaining the buildings, the orchards and the grounds – and so much more! Because of this communal commitment, members find that they need only work about three days a week outside the community to bring in enough money to pay the bills. We all help and support each other. In the summer months we enjoy help from friends from all over the world who turn up for two weeks at a time. We can host up to four volunteer friends working alongside the members who provide guidance on whatever outdoor tasks are at hand. We also host and organise our own social events that range from, home cinema, play readings, panto, maypole dancing, games, music events and so on. To help our communal living to work we have “Friday meetings” where we discuss ideas, and make decisions by consensus. Sometimes, of course, we have conflict and disagreement – all part of the rich tapestry here!! The children and young people here have a great life climbing trees, cycling, playing ball-games, baking bread, some like gardening! Children in the main, walk or cycle to local schools. When a member has a friend to stay, the member is expected to make a voluntary contribution towards the additional running costs of the community. Likewise when the community invites a guest to stay, they too are invited to make a voluntary contribution towards the shared costs.
Old Hall Community