Repeated experiences with people who are in danger of drowning in isolation lead the founders to the idea of founding a multi-generation community, where old and young work together in a natural way and where through our diversity we relieve and support each other. Our shared enthusiasm inspires and promotes growth from its very own source! These ideas are quickly accepted and lead to a first meeting with like-minded people.
Now monthly meetings take place on the topic "Living together in a new form". Soon there will be over 70 people from different generations in the card index and the atmosphere at the meetings will be filled with the common need for friendly coexistence and the desire for human support and relief for the the environment. A new WE is developing among us. The power of the heart becomes stronger with each meeting.
After a long search it becomes clear that such a project is very expensive in Switzerland and it is almost impossible to buy a property with farmland. Now the focus is on France. Not everyone is ready for this step of leaving Switzerland, the group divides. Near Carcassonne (southern France), a property called "Font de l'Orme" sparks the courage to emigrate in the hearts of a pioneer group. From then on it meets - reduced to a dozen - as a "France group" and grows together to form a larger unit. At the beginning of 2017, a decision is made to expand the group.
In response to various advertisements, more than 50 new people visit the presentation of the project on one weekend. More than 20 of them join the founders’ group! To everyone's great surprise, the new and the old quickly merge together to form a stable association. As if they had known each other for much longer! The sentence "Those who are there are the right ones" becomes a noticeable strength and gives confidence in the process and our inner guidance. Once again it becomes apparent how great the need for community life is!
The estate "Font de l'Orme" is suddenly no longer for sale. A delegation travels again to France and discovers the Mongrenier property. The enthusiasm for it is enormous and the resulting concrete work on the purchase brings the participants together breathtakingly fast.
After a second group has visited Mongrenier and is completely convinced of it, the decision is made to purchase the property and found an SCI (Société civile immobilière).
Foundation of SCI, conclusion of pre-purchase agreement The foundation of a cooperative for the business to come is laid. Procurement of the remaining purchase amount.
The first ones move to France. For the time being as tenants.
The sales contract has been signed. The estate Mongrenier now belongs to our SCI.
The group on site counts 11 adults:
Peter Renate Herbie Dominique Regina Tom Beatrice Gertrud Karin Kieran (Lasse Bettina Ines René Lotti are partly there).
At the beginning of February, the inauguration will be celebrated with everyone.
Everything is new! We are pioneers, immigrants, new residents, and have only known each other for a few months.
Life is filled with:
Getting to know each other as people, structuring our life together; mastering immigration in France; discovering unknown houses and their infrastructures; nature does not wait, the cultivation of gardens and fields is started in an unknown climate and its soils; running a large household, where do we shop here, where do we find craftsmen; taking out social insurances; hiring employees; keeping accounts; accompanying volunteers; recruiting, accommodating and looking after tourists;
Renate and Gertrud leave the group after only a few months.
In the fields the red poppies are blooming beautifully - where has the grass seed gone?
The huge roof of the "Caves" is being repaired.
The harvest from the gardens is enormous and is being processed. A harvest festival gives expression to our incredulous amazement and great gratitude.
We meditate - dance - celebrate and eat well together.
Kieran, the youngest of us, starts a 2-year apprenticeship as a farmer.
In October we do a systemic constellation together for several days, which binds us more strongly together and shows many interesting aspects of our system within the group and as a group with the place.
Together with young friends from Switzerland we dance into the new year :-)
The first animals - 2 donkeys (Reno and Laura) and a pony (Zaza) join us and in spring a family (Estebean, Charlotte, Llaco, Kaya) from France with 2 children (4 and 6 years old) moves in. The animal herd is expanded with the first sheep.
Dominique leaves the group and settles in a neighbouring village.
The Montessori school from Carcassonne starts a forest school on our grounds and takes the children out of the houses into our woods one day a week.
A chicken coop is being built and soon the magnificent rooster will be clucking and crowing.
In late summer, the cultural group "Mongrenier en culture" organises its first event. The Cave is transformed into a great exhibition hall for works by group members and 3 visual artists from France. The exhibition will be accompanied by music and culinary delights.
In January the weather shows a new side and a torrential rain turns our ditches into overflowing streams. Fortunately, the houses are on a small hill.
The first almond blossoms in February testify to the flourishing of the new tree orchard in the south garden.
Covid breaks out into the world, bringing different attitudes to it there, as it does here.
The guest house is spontaneously rented for 2 months by a family from Toulouse. So now 4 children live on the farm and since the schools are closed and their adults do not go to work but work in the home office, they experience their parents much more intensively and vice versa. Chicks are hatched and little lambs are born, an animal paradise for big and small. This urban family will decide through this experience to sell their house in the city and move to the Pyrenees.
Through Corona, unfortunately, the forest school closes, the finances for it are no longer secured.
Mongrenier gets a new sewage plant with which the waste water is treated and purified by two septic tanks.
The family leaves again as a result of an internal family problem. In no time at all the children are gone from Mongrenier L.
Kieran has passed the 2-year training to become a (French) farmer to our and his delight! But he has no intention to install himself as a farmer on our farm and returns to Switzerland.
However, Bettina is finally and definitely moving into Mongrenier. She and Lasse have built a great extension on the east side of the main house.
Advertisements are placed looking for contributors and many people come forward. The communication with them, their reception on the occasion of 2 large-scale "open doors" with information and many conversations takes a lot of time and energy. A large number of those interested have the hope of being able to get by here in the community without wage labour.
Since the beginning, the collective has been supported by 3-4 people who have been living with the group without financial contributions. One was the farmer-apprentice and then there were many volunteers. As a matter of fact the community cannot support more than that.
Conny comes to Mongrenier as a new contributor.
The houses are patched up and beautified here and there, the work on tourism pays off, the great work in the gardens yields nice harvests. The poppy meadows have long since become good hay meadows. Our own lamb is delicious and we are grateful for our great quality of life on the farm.
The ruins of the old forge are being restored by René and Lotti and converted into their living space.
In the east garden, a large water pond is being dredged, which will in future feed the irrigation of the garden crops.
The collective life takes a lot of time for group meetings, decision-making, conflicts, celebrations, dancing and eating - just a normal community life.
People all over the world are being shaken by the pandemic and nothing that happens in the world simply passes Mongrenier by. Even though we have been spared illnesses so far, different attitudes to the measures imposed are having an onerous effect on our group.
We feel the burden of the departures. Those who are still here take on the work and the financial obligations as well as the further development of the project. The pioneering energy that has carried us so far is to be transformed into a sustaining energy of consolidation.
In addition, some of them have obligations towards their families of origin and this leads to longer absences from the farm.
In spring and autumn, together with Judith Goldblat (from "Schloss Tempelhof" in Germany), we do two WIR processes of several days to strengthen our sense of community.
Tom and Karin leave the community.
The Müller Lüscher family moves here in the summer to try out living here. After much deliberation, however, they decide to move on in November.
Pierre, who has been living with us as a volunteer, takes on a newly created so-called project membership. He becomes responsible for the vegetable gardens, the sheep, the maintenance of machines and repairs. The East Garden is getting a new shape that will make it easier to work and water in.
Structurally, 2 major projects are planned and implemented:
- In the large communal kitchen, the open fireplace will be replaced by a large seat stove with fireclay bricks. With the help of laid water pipes, additional heat will be fed into the existing central heating pipes.
- The beautiful with time rather dilapidated pool is renovated.
Conny returns to her family in Germany.
We move the theme of "finding new contributors" into focus for this year.
All of us, except Pierre, are older than 60, some well over. We come to the conclusion that a new crew is needed on Mongrenier. As the old farmer hands over the farm to the young, we want to hand over the project. That is why we are now focusing on groups who are looking for a project farm.
Or the individual applicants who are still visiting us in great numbers manage to form a new group and start one or several projects together in this location.