Ancestral settlements: expanding the boundaries of home and consciousness

Everything superfluous disappears from life, expenses decrease   

In the books of Vladimir Megre, the main character Anastasia tells the narrator about how this world works and in what ways it can be improved. Life in family homesteads is one of the obligatory elements of achieving harmony on Earth. For many years, Megre actively promoted this idea in society, which resulted in a whole movement to create ecovillages in different countries.

They picked up this idea in the Urals and began to actively implement it. In terms of the number of settlements, we are stepping on the heels of the fertile south of Russia. However, in the competition between the Chelyabinsk and neighboring Sverdlovsk regions, the so-called Middle Urals win. But ours – the South – has something to show. For example, “Blagodatnoe”, located forty kilometers from Chelyabinsk in one of the most popular areas for suburban life. The river Birgilda flows near the settlement. The family settlement is just over ten years old.

Today, about 15 families live here permanently. One of them is Vladimir and Evgenia Meshkov. For the third year they practically do not go to the city. Son Matvey studies at the village school, which is located in the neighboring village of Arkhangelskoye. The eldest daughter lives in the city, she comes to her parents to relax.

One of the reasons why we are here is health. The son was sick a lot – Evgenia begins his story. – We lived like this for a year, and I thought, what is the point in such a life?

We settled in the kitchen, the hostess brewed Ivan-tea, put sweet goodies on the table. Everything is homemade, natural – several types of jam, a pie and even chocolate, and that one is made by Eugene himself.

– My husband is a railway worker, he worked on a rotational basis, it was very convenient while living here: he was on duty for two weeks, two at home, – Evgenia continues. “Recently, he was laid off for health reasons. We decided that it was better for him to stay here, you can always earn extra money with repairs. When you start living in nature, gradually everything superfluous disappears, consciousness changes. You don’t need a lot of clothes, like in the city, and money comes when there is a goal.

Gone are the families and meat products. It is assumed that meat is not eaten in ancestral settlements, and animals are not killed on the territory of the estates. However, Evgenia is sure that any decision must be approached carefully, meat should be gradually abandoned.

– I tried to refuse meat food, I said to myself: after all, this is killed flesh, but when you forcibly introduce restrictions, the result is small. Then I just felt that meat is heavy food, now I cannot physically eat it, even if it is fresh – for me it is carrion. When we go to the store, the child asks (there are smells there), I do not refuse. I don’t want to make meat a forbidden fruit. Usually after such prohibitions, people break down. We hardly eat fish either, sometimes we take canned food, – says Evgenia.

Some residents of the settlement really have animals, but only as permanent friends of man. Some have horses, others have cows. They treat neighbors with milk, something goes on sale.

Children learn the world live, not from pictures

About half of the 150 sites in Blagodatny are occupied. However, not everyone is in a hurry to live on earth. Many are still held by the city, people are not in a hurry to move with the ends. Like Anastasia, who settles down in the estate with her mother.

– This year we are finishing construction, coming to the house is always a joy for me, I go wandering around, I don’t want to leave! Even the legs do not go back. But I can’t leave the city yet, I have a job there, – Nastya admits.

As a hobby, Nastya teaches choral singing classes. Among her students are the inhabitants of the settlement. At one time, the girl taught singing to the children of Blagodatny, who, by the way, are many here.

Someone like Matvey goes to school, others are homeschooled.

– School is not only knowledge, it is communication. When a child is small, he needs to play with his peers, says Evgenia.

Last year, Blagodatny even organized a tent camp for children, and kids from the city also came. They took a symbolic payment from them – for food and the salary of educators-students.

The children in the settlement, mothers Evgenia and Natalya argue, are learning important life skills, learning to work, to live in harmony with nature.

– Unfortunately, our ancestors did not pass on certain knowledge to us, the connection between generations was lost. Here we bake bread ourselves, but for example, I am not yet ready to fully provide my family with clothes. I have a loom, but it’s more of a hobby, says Evgenia.

“There is a girl Vasilisa here who knows better than me what herbs grow where, why this or that herb is needed, and in the summer she will always come to visit with a mug of berries,” Nastya tells about the local young nymphs.

“And at school they study natural history from books, ask those who got an A in this subject – they can’t distinguish a pine from a birch,” Natalya joins the conversation.

Matvey, together with his father, chop wood, instead of sitting at the computer like his many urban peers. True, there is no strict ban on modern entertainment in the family.

– There is Internet, Matvey watches some cartoons. Naturally, I filter the information he receives, but this is the normal position of conscious parents, and it does not depend on the place of residence, says Evgenia. – My daughter lives in the city, we do not force her to live with us. At the moment, everything suits her there, she likes to come to us very much, maybe she will get married, give birth to children and also settle here.

While Matvey goes to the second grade in a regular school, his parents have not yet discussed whether to continue his education in secondary school or go to home school. They say you’ll see. Some children after homeschooling show even better results than their peers. There was a case in the settlement when adult children themselves asked their parents to go to school: they wanted to communicate. The parents didn’t mind.

Matvey himself, when asked if he wants to go to the city, answers in the negative. In the settlement he likes, especially to ride on a snowy hill in winter! The eldest daughter of Natalia is also eager for the city. An animal lover, she dreams of building a dog kennel on her hectare. Fortunately, there is enough space!

Settlements develop in their own way, they are not gardens or cottages

So far, Natalya has only put up a wooden frame. When they arrive, they live with their daughters in a temporary house. She says that she would finally move even now, but she needs to bring the house to mind. Everything that she manages to earn, Natalia invests in construction. She acquired the land at the very beginning of the founding of Blagodatny, 12 years ago. I immediately planted a pine fence. Now, in addition to pines and birches, cedars and chestnuts are taking root on Natalya’s site, and in some incredible way, Japanese quince has been brought to her.

“Growing trees is exciting. In the city, everything is different, there life revolves around the apartment, when he came home from work, he turned on the TV. Here you are constantly at liberty, around nature, trees, you come into the room only tired – to sleep, – Natalya shares. – In city gardens, in summer cottages, everyone huddles close, close on several acres, you rest your eyes on the fence of a neighbor, it is impossible to walk around the site without fear of stepping on planted crops.

According to Megre’s book, for a harmonious life, a person needs at least one hectare of land. Initially, each settler is given exactly this much, large families expand further.

However, Natalya, despite her burning desire to be in the open, admits that there is a fear of being left without a permanent income, at least until the house is completed. At the same time, she, like Evgenia, already knows that living in the settlement significantly reduces costs.

– There is a lot of propaganda in the city – buy this, buy that. We are “forced” to constantly spend money, this is also facilitated by the fragility of modern things: everything breaks down quickly, you have to buy again, Natalya argues. “The costs here are much lower. Many grow vegetables, and we do not use chemicals. All vegetables are healthy and natural.

Learned to do without the modern benefits of civilization

As a child, Natalya spent every summer in the village with her grandparents – she worked in the garden. The love for the land remained, and at first Natalya even thought of buying a house in the village. However, she did not like the mood prevailing in the villages.

– The general mood in the villages that I met: “everything is bad.” Most residents complain that there is no work. Tell me, when would there be no work in the village?! Of course, I understand that historical circumstances have played a big role in the current situation, when the village was put in such a difficult situation. Be that as it may, I did not want to stay there, – says Natalia. – Megre’s books just came across, apparently everything was written there very convincingly and argued that it had an effect on me. I think that everyone realizes in due time that it is necessary to live reasonably, environmentally friendly. We are not escaping from reality, we just want to live more spaciously. In the West, everyone has been living in their own homes for a long time, and this is not considered something incredible. But still, cottages, dachas – this is also narrow, I needed expanse! 

Natalya says that the bulk of the settlers come for ideological reasons, but fanatics are rare.

– There are those who, for every controversial issue, begin to read excerpts from books from memory. Someone lives in a dugout. But, basically, people still try to look for the “golden mean,” Natalya emphasizes.

Twelve years is not too old for a settlement. There is a lot of work ahead. While the lands are by default in agricultural use. The settlers are thinking about transferring them to individual housing construction in order to be able to qualify for state subsidies in building the infrastructure of the settlement, but they understand that the transfer will significantly raise the land tax. Another issue is communication. Now the settlement has no gas, electricity or water supply. However, the settlers had already adapted to farming without modern conveniences. So, in every house there is a Russian stove, even according to old recipes, bread is baked in it. For permanent use there is a stove and a gas cylinder. Lighting is powered by solar panels – there are such in every house. They drink water from springs or dig wells.

So whether it is necessary to spend huge amounts of money on summing up communications is also a question for the settlers. After all, the way they live now allows them to be independent of external factors and save on maintenance at home.

The experience of other settlements helps to develop

There are no huge incomes in Blagodatny, as well as general earnings. So far, everyone lives as it turns out: someone retires, someone sells the surplus from the garden, others rent out city apartments.

Of course, Evgenia says, there are estates younger than Blagodatny, but already fully provided for – no matter which way you look at it. They sell on a large scale products produced and collected on the estates – vegetables, mushrooms, berries, herbs, including Ivan-tea that returned from oblivion. As a rule, in such promoted settlements there is a competent and wealthy organizer who runs the economy along a commercial path. In Blagodatny, the situation is different. Here they do not want to chase profit, being afraid to miss something important in this race.

As Natalya rightly notes, the settlement still lacks a leader. Ideas arise in one place, then in another, so it is not always possible to bring them to implementation.

Now Natalia is conducting a survey of the residents of the estate in order to find out the needs of the residents, find out what is missing and how the settlers still see the development of Blagodatny. Natalya got the idea for the survey at a seminar for residents of family homesteads. In general, all active settlers of Blagodatny, if possible, study the experience of other settlements, go to visit them in order to peep some interesting and useful practices. Communication between the inhabitants of the settlements of different regions takes place at traditional large festivals.

By the way, there are holidays in Blagodatny too. Events, which are held in the form of round dances and various Slavic games, are distributed throughout the calendar year in a certain sequence. So, at such holidays, the inhabitants of the settlements not only have fun and communicate, but also study folk traditions, show children how to treat wildlife with respect and awareness. Natalia even underwent special training to hold such themed holidays.

Help will come, but you need to prepare for difficulties

Beginners who want to join life on earth usually first talk with Evgenia Meshkova. She shows them a map of the settlement, tells them about life here, introduces them to the neighbors. If some kind of settlement holiday is coming, he invites to it. 

“It is important for us that they realize whether they need it, whether they are comfortable with us, and, of course, to understand for themselves whether we are comfortable with the new settlers. Previously, we even had a rule that a year should pass from the moment of the decision to build and until the moment of acquiring the land. People often do not think it over, on some kind of upsurge of feelings and emotions, they make a decision, as practice shows, then such plots are sold, – says Evgenia.

– This does not mean that people are cunning or something else, they sincerely believe that they want to live here. The problem is that many do not know how to assess their capabilities and needs, – Evgenia’s husband, Vladimir, enters into the conversation. – When it comes down to it, it turns out that life in the settlement is not at all the fairy tale that they expected, that they need to work here. For a couple of years until you build a house, you live a gypsy life.

Spouses say that the decision must be made carefully, and not hope that everyone around will help you. Although the inhabitants of “Blagodatnoye” have already developed their own good tradition. When a new settler is preparing to put up a log house, all residents come to the rescue with the necessary tools, having received an SMS message in advance. Half a day to a day – and the log house is already on the site. Such is the reciprocity.

“However, there will be difficulties, and we must prepare for them. Many have gardens, dachas, but here in open areas the temperatures are lower, perhaps not everything can be planted and grown at once. Of course, it will be psychologically difficult to rebuild for another life. However, it’s worth it. You know what is the main bonus of life on earth – you see the result of your work. Plants are very grateful when everything around is blooming, rejoices, you see where and what your life is spent on, – Eugenia smiles.

As in any team, in a settlement you need to be able to negotiate

For many outside observers, the tribal settlement is perceived as a large family, a single organism. Still, this is not a horticultural cooperative, people here are united not only by the desire to grow a rich harvest, but also to establish a harmonious life. It seems difficult to find so many like-minded people… However, Evgenia believes that one should not build illusions on this matter, a reasonable approach is also needed here.

“We won’t be able to find 150 families who think the same way. We need to come together and negotiate. Learn to listen to each other and hear, come to a common decision, – Evgenia is sure.

Anastasia even believes that life itself will put everything in its place: “I think that those who are not on the same wavelength with us will simply “fall off” over time.”

Now all the thoughts and forces of the settlers are directed to the construction of a common house. There is such a room in every settlement, all residents gather there to discuss pressing issues, deal with children, spend some holidays, etc. While the building is under construction, there is already a summer kitchen. According to Natalia, this is a megaproject, its implementation will require a lot of investment and time.

The settlement has many plans and opportunities, for example, the settlers argue, it is possible to arrange the sale of willow-tea, which is very popular today and is sold at a good price. In the future, as an option, it is possible to build some kind of tourism center where people could come to get acquainted with the life of the settlers, to be in nature. This is both information work with the townspeople, and profit for the settlement. In general, all my interlocutors agree that for the stable development of the settlement, it still needs to establish a general income. 

instead of an epilogue

Leaving the hospitable home and the wide expanses of the settlement, located on 150 hectares of land, out of habit, I mentally sum up the results of my visit. Yes, life in a settlement is not a paradise on earth, where everyone lives in peace and love, holds hands and dances. This is life with its pros and cons. Considering that today a person has lost all his skills, laid down by nature, it is even harder for us to live in conditions of “liberty and freedom” than in a narrow urban framework. We must be prepared for difficulties, including domestic and economic ones. However, it’s worth it. As, smiling, Vladimir said goodbye: “And yet this life is undoubtedly better than that city life.”     


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