My experiences as a volunteer in the Hideghegy eco-community.
I arrived in early May to Hideghegy. My first days were about moving in and settling a little into this new environment and getting to know the people living in the mountain, as well as discovering the neighbourhood, including Barnag, the Zádor castle and the well where to community is sourcing their water from.
My first works included building a compost toilet, and helping to move the community kitchen to the outdoors summer kitchen. I also got acquainted with the plants in the garden, and once I knew them, I was confident enough to start weeding.
In the upcoming weeks, we kept planting seedlings, mulching, weeding and watering the plants. I had lots of kitchen duties, including securing water from the well, but I also had time to get to the lake sometimes and take a good swim!
During my stay I learnt how to preserve things, we made elderberry syrup, conserved spinach, sour cherry, cherry, cucumbers, tomatoes and many other products.
I learnt about fermentation and foraging, how to harvest rainwater, a lot of practical things about gardening and how to cook in large quantities. I had also tasks around the chicken and the pigs. I even had my own small kitchen garden.
I also got to work also with the beehives and we were also making the guestroom and the yurt for the guests ready for visitors.
I also took part in the preparation works of the Gyüttment Festival, the Treemap Camp and a Permaculture Design Course, including the creation of information boards, raising tents, cooking, and also how to pack away and rearrange things after such large events.
One of the highlights of my stay was the group volunteering event with 10 other volunteers, where I was already an ‘insider’, who was hosting and guiding the group.
As the community is off-grid, our only source of electricity was a bunch of solar panels. Thus, I had to learn how to live off-line, as well, as internet was scarce, and we could power our laptops and phones - or even use a washing machine, during the day, when there was enough light.
Overall, it was definitely a life-changing experience, where I had time to reflect upon my past and future, it shaped me and helped me to appreciate a simple, slow life. Also, I became - even though temporarily- a member of an amazing community. I learnt a lot about self-sustainability and about how much nature can offer and our responsiblity to preserve all the beauty of the Earth.