This Oasis is part of ‘Oasis en Tous Lieux’ founded by Pierre Rabhi. The so called ‘éco-hameau’ or ecological hamlet was founded in 1995 on a terrain made available to this project by the ‘Centre Ecologique de Vaugran’ in the Cevennes, the owner of the domain. The domain consists of 15 hectares, of which 12 in usufruct and 3 in collective ownership (in a Groupement Foncier Agricole). The name Carapa comes from a tree in the Amazon, which is highly appreciated for its oil and has many applications.The people (see a short video on Oasis Carapa in French) that founded Carapa wanted to create a place that is ecological, collective as well as consistent in everything they do. It is about going to the roots of things. The project is part of what would be called ‘radical ecology’. This means that they do not use any nuclear energy, refuse superficiality and consumerism, the notion of ownership, no breeding of animals, and eating vegetarian. Furthermore this small community applies permaculture in its forest garden. At a human and spiritual level this small community (originally 6 to 7 people) created not only a place of ‘convivialité’ (a word that does not have a synonym in English!, but means positive and friendly relationship between people), but also connecting to the earth and the cosmos.
Habitat – yurts
The vision of this project also embraces ecological building and using handcraft skills and knowledge. The buildings in this project are yurts. I meet with Fabienne Gaitte who lives here since 11 years. She was looking for a place where she (and her daughter) could recognise herself and live in harmony and in her own rhythm with nature.
She was inspired by what she calls the ‘peuples primiers’ and the way they connect to the ecosystem and the cosmos, and celebrate live. She organises workshops in the forest, where nearby several cascades can be found. Indeed this flowing water has a magical and spiritual effect on the soul.
The building of her yurt took 3 years. With the help of many volunteers they used only local materials, such as reed to cover the roof, chestnut wood and straw and earth for the walls. As part of the project’s philosophy, they didn’t use machines for the construction. As her yurt is on a hill in the middle of the forest, this meant they had to carry all materials by hand up-hill!
Association ‘La vie au grand Terre de Cevennes’
Carapa is also part of an association where people help each other on the farm. In France you need to organise this through an association in order to avoid being accused of working in black! In a circle of about 25 km in this mountain area with many small farms some 75 farmers take part. Each Monday they help out (those that are available) on one of the farms (with a rotation system). This means the help of many hands for tasks that cannot be done alone or would otherwise take too much time. Apart from the useful help this is also a way of meeting and socialising with people in the neighbourhood; so ‘convivialité à la française’. This is a pleasant alternative to meeting at a café, not very much present in the country side.
We spent a lovely day together with about 14 people at the farm of Jean-François at 600 meters in the mountains of the Cevennes among others busy with gardening and cleaning chestnuts, and chatting!
Transition of a project
During my visit at Oasis Carapa there were also two young French travelling around and making a film on ecological projects in France and for that also interviewed Fabienne.
They were very enchanted with the place. Currently Carapa is going through a transition. The owner of the land (86 years of age now) wishes to stop the activities on his land and other founders of Carapa have moved away – paths of live simply change. So a new generation is ready to get involved in this project. Fabienne will stay at Carapa and with all her experience, openness, positive energy and connection to many young will be able to regenerate Oasis Carapa, as there is still about 2 hectares to continue the activities. As we discussed, this is part of natural changes and new dynamics will certainly occur.