One year volunteering experience in our ecovillage
About the ESC: What is the European Solidarity Corps?
The EU funded program „European Solidarity Corps“ (ESC) is open for young people between 18 and 30 years old from Europe and „partner countries“ of the European Union and gives the opportunity to take part as volunteers in projects throughout Europe. They live and work in charitable projects and have the opportunity to gain new impressions, ideas and perspectives.
Ecovillage Gemeinschaft Sonnenwald, in Germany’s Black Forest
We offer 4 different placement possibilities:
- Organic Vegetable Garden
- Maintenance & Infrastructure
- Regenerative Agriculture
- Community & Seminar Kitchen
See more information further below
POSTPONED: The NEW start is planned for June, 2022 *
* Gemeinschaft Sonnenwald is still in the process of being accredited as a hosting organization for the ESC. For this reason it isn’t yet possible to register as a participant on the ESC Online-Portal. You can begin the required registration by writing directly to us (see details further below).
About Gemeinschaft Sonnenwald
Gemeinschaft Sonnenwald e.G. was founded in 2019 in a tiny village on an elevated plain in the Black Forest. The property is divided into the Upper Farm, where 60 grown-ups, among whom one is a handicapped young woman, and 11 children live and the Lower Farm, where 40 hectares of grain fields, pasture and vegetable gardens surround our farm buildings. There are also a mobile chicken house, which we designed and made for ourselves, and a cow barn. These provide shelter for our herd of 35 cattle, our three pigs and our flock of 70 chickens. Our Bioland certified agriculture enterprise aims at the regeneration of the soil and includes an award winning pilot project in agroforestry.
The mission of Gemeinschaft Sonnenwald is to develop a sustainable way of life in which social, ecological, economic and cultural elements are holistically interwoven. Thus we offer space for diversity, creativity and inclusivity of individuals with different interests, backgrounds and talents.
● Interest in sustainability and community living in a rural location
● Openness to learn and to meet new people
● Motivation to be of service to the ecovillage
● Good language skills in English or German (optional)
Good to know:
Weekly working hours: 32,5 h (25h in assigned projects and 7,5h in individually developed projects)
Community & working language: German and English
Food and Accommodation: Vegan and vegetarian food, living quarters shared with other volunteers, including a shared kitchen and all the community facilities
Covered during ESC: Free food and accommodation, health-insurance, pocket money (150 Euro per month), international travel costs (up to limit).
Equal opportunities: Gemeinschaft Sonnenwald promotes equal opportunities and encourages openness and transparency. We welcome applications from persons with limited opportunities (e.g. low income, unemployment, learning difficulties, LBGT+, migrant background, health issues etc.). Please feel free to contact us to discuss your circumstances openly, so that together we may find a good placement match. We are happy to offer support within our limits.
Our ESC placements
Organic vegetable garden
Tending our garden both outside and in the greenhouses will be your daily task. The garden team grows about 50 different types of vegetables, fruit and herbs for the community. As you start in spring, you will experience a full growing season, starting seedling under the grow lights, preparing the soil, planting out, weeding and harvesting. You will learn to use a variety of tools and growing techniques. In the market garden with its smaller scale, most of the work is done with traditional hand tools. No big machines are used there. If you like spending your time outdoors, getting your hands dirty and having a full body workout, this placement would be for you.
Maintenance & Infrastructure
We are continuously working to reduce the ecological footprint of our buildings and infrastructure, as well as to maintaining what exists here. Therefore we repurpose rooms and remodel instead of building new. We look for creative solutions to problems instead of simply replacing old equipment. We use alternative, green building materials rather than conventional that damage the environment. And you will be part of the energy efficiency restructuring process that we started in 2021 by installing solar panels. As a member of the maintenance crew you will get to know our buildings from the inside out. Since the oldest house dates back to the 1890s and the newest to the 1980s, you will encounter a variety of sometimes surprising tasks. If using tools and adapting technologies is your thing, this placement would be for you.
As a member of this team you will experience the cycle of seasons. As the days grow longer, the cows will leave the barn, where they have spent winter and given birth to their calves, for the nearby pastures. Your tasks will change over the year from clearing the cow stalls and feeding them their hay to setting the fences and leading them to different pastures, selected according the principles of holistic management. You might also be involved in processing the cow’s milk or making cheese. Another everyday task is to feed the pigs and chickens. When the harvest season begins you will be part of a large group of volunteers and community members, who support the farm crew in tasks such as loading the wagons, sorting potatoes, repair and maintenance of tools. If you enjoy caring for animals and want to learn how to drive a tractor, this placement would be for you.
Community & Seminar Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of the community. If you work there you will prepare delicíous vegetables grown in our organic gardens that nourish our bodies and souls. The number of people gathering here typically amounts to 40 to 80, sometimes more for big seminars or festivals. This means a lot of scrubbing and chopping as well as cleaning up afterwards. And of course preparing salads and spreads, making deserts, baking bread and cakes and fermenting or canning foods. Depending on your experience you can take on more responsibility in the professional kitchen and pass on your knowledge to other volunteers. Since we organize these tasks in a collective way you will get to know different community members every day of the week. If you enjoy preparing food to the sound of cool beats and working in a team, this would be the placement for you.
You are free to choose personal projects that give play to your creativity and special skills. These projects will have either a direct link to sustainability or clearly contribute to our solidarity as a community. You can hook onto an existing project or start something new. This is a great opportunity to try something that doesn’t have to be related directly to your work placement and to discover or improve your individual skills. Projects could be: building birdhouses, making light fixtures with the help of our lasercutter, shooting films, painting and carving information signs, any kind of upcycling, building plattforms in trees, to name only a few.
Social life You will be part of the group of young volunteers, trainees and interns sharing your own living space with a kitchen. It is situated in a wing of our largest residential building. One evening per week a team of experienced facilitators will offer time and space in order to get to know each other. They will help you develop a set of skills for working on communication and inner processes.
Community activities & celebrations
Throughout the year the community hosts events and rituals which we welcome you to join and get to know the people living around you. Singing circles, community pub and dancing in the gym, meditation and qigong in the mornings are opportunities to participate in community life. We also celebrate traditional holidays like Easter and Christmas, Summer and Winter solstice, the Equinoxes and much besides.