I have written on many an occasion about Elies the small village in the Western Troodos mountains and in the book of the same name as this site, I describe how my first trip to visit my cousin Androula there in her guest house To Spitiko tou Archonta, inspired me to start writing the book. Androula has lived in the village for fourteen years or so after falling in love with the place after her first visit. She recognised the village and surrounding area as a little gem, its assets quietly hidden under a cloak of greenery overgrown and neglected like sleeping beauty in her bower. But there is much here that if approached sensitively could enhance the area immeasurably and supply a relaxing and attractive destination for those seeking solace from the stresses of modern day living as well as providing employment for those wishing to settle in the area.
In these modern times mountain villages all over Europe are suffering from increasingly older populations as well as decreasing ones due to the exodus of the young to find work elsewhere, lured by city lights and an easier way to earn a living. Governments are concerned to find ways to attract people back to these rural areas and create a means by which these villages can come to life again, hence eco- tourism was born. Encouraging and assisting those who wished, to restore old buildings and use them as hotels or guest houses meant that tourism could be promoted to these places encouraging visitors to explore beyond the beaches to discover the wealth of delights that abounded in these areas. For those interested in historical buildings and structures there are the Byzantine churches and Venetian bridges, for those interested in nature, wildlife and geology there are numerous nature trails to take one over some unique terrain where rare plants and rock formations can be found. For those in pursuit of more strenuous leisure activities mountain bikes or horses can be hired and used over some exhilarating rides.
Apart from all these delights Treis Elies has other assets, one of them being Sulphur springs, In the past people would come to bathe here and take the waters for their health, there still remains the framework of a large bathing area and close by a small kiosk where refreshments was served on the outskirts of the village. The village at its height had a population of more than 400 people now reduced down to an ever decreasing 20 or so permanent residents. When I first visited only five years ago there were three coffee shops now reduced to one. All the properties have a garden,allocated which is a small plot of land on the outskirts of the village that have been terraced out of the hillside to provide an area where crops can be cultivated. Water is laid on to irrigate these areas with a river running close by. Cherry trees abound in this area as well as apples, pears, walnuts and strawberries as well as other berries grow well here due to the milder climate. Many of these terraces are overgrown now and abandoned although clearly visible as are the tracks and stone walls, albeit needing repair and maintenance. Walking around the village it is easy to imagine how this village when fully functioning could be a real paradise.
Androula had always had a vision of the village thriving once more and populated by like minded people who worked as a community to grow their own organic food and the village becoming an eco village. After so many years of nurturing this dream but having no idea how it would come into reality amazingly in the last year it has actually started to become realised. Treis Elies Eco village is born https://www.facebook.com/EcovillageTrisElies.
Many people in the present climate are looking for an alternative more self-sufficient way to live,with the world in ever more turmoil, large corporations dictating the rules and personal freedom becoming eroded it is no wonder that many want to find a way to drop out of the system. A group of young people from different countries have heard through the ether, it almost appears that way anyway, about Treis Elies and have formed a small community whose mission is to work together with each other and the environment in a self sustaining way by using a permaculture method of cultivation. Androula has been a key part in helping them find accommodation and land to work and live as well as supporting them in any practical way she can. Already a tour operator is involved in bringing visitors to Treis Elies to learn of this project and the young group lay on a breakfast for them at the newly cleaned and painted coffee shop and tell them of their mission. They have started to cultivate the land and produce their own food following a steep learning curve about all things permaculture, in fact a permaculture course was held at Treis Elies a few days ago to pass on what has been learnt from experts in this field. Here is a the outline of the ethos of permaculture taken from their Facebook page:-
” Ethical design
The main focus of the workshop will be to look at how to take care of your basic needs without exploiting other people, animals or our planet and its bountiful resources.
By studying nature, we will learn patterns for creating resilient and abundant systems, which we can apply to our lives
This will include everything from looking at how to take control of our food supply, through to designing how to create a more peaceful fulfilling stress free life.
Subjects covered will include
– A brief history of permaculture and the birth of green movements
– Successful urban and community food growing
– How to nurture and create a resilient community
– How to observe and learn from nature
– Understand and make effective use of natures patterns
– Exploring the intricate and essential connections of life (why we should value diversity)
– How to simplify complex systems, so we can understand and redesign them
– How to design effective solutions for urban and rural living
– Effective permaculture design tools and methodologies
– How to use the ethics and principles of permaculture to make abundant and resilient designs
– Reduce energy consumption, and increase quality of life by intentional design of your day to day activities
The workshop will culminate in putting all these tools and principles into action by making real designs
This 2 day course is part of a full 12 day certified permaculture design course, which will continue for the subsequent 2 weeks”
From this you can see that it is an all encompassing way of life to lead to a much lighter footprint left by man if any footprint at all. Recycling, up cycling, and inventive ways of using what is already available has been an intrinsic way of life for Cypriots for centuries so in a way this way of living is returning to what was until very recently the norm. This group is connected to other groups around the island with a similar vision and mission so they can help, learn from and encourage each other. Peter and Maria from Parhelia organic market garden that I reported on in March here https://androulaskitchen.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/sunny-side-up/ are making ready to join the group in September permanently in fact. They have no government funding in place at present although it seems that a scheme like this should have their backing as well as being eligible for a hefty payout from the EU to allow the framework to be put in place for the various schemes that have been draughted to revive some of the neglected parts of this village and inject new life into the area. There are no shortage of ideas and skills in this group that can bring in money to support as time goes on but their immediate needs are lacking funding at present. I for one am excited that such a movement has taken hold on the island as many people before me have said, if nature was respected here and its occupants lived in harmony with it, Cyprus could be a self-sufficient paradise.