Svanholm is a prosperous and highly functional commune. (pp. 94-7) Most members live in small “home groups” in this enormous 1749 manor house.

In summer, the entire community has a big picnic in front of the manor house.

Meal prep for nearly 150 people, as well as processing food grown on site, makes for a bustling kitchen.

Svanholm’s sharing economy, which includes a 400-acre farm and shared food shopping, cooking, and cleanup, makes for sumptuous low-cost meals.

Much of Svanholm’s dining room doubles as a play area for toddlers. Older children play upstairs in the mezzanine.

At Svanholm, self-governance and income sharing start at an early age.

Animals contribute fertility to Svanholm's farmland, but they also play a key role with the children.

Svanholm’s farms grow both crops and livestock. Sheep provide high-quality meat and wool for the community and local residents.

Svanholm enjoys fresh milk and yogurt every day from its herd of 100 dairy cows.

Like virtually everything at Svanholm, the cows are integrated into Svanholms’s rich social environment.

These pygmy ponies are more fit for babysitting than farm work.

Many residents of this child-centered ecovillage work on site. This wood-carver has a business building creative playgrounds at Danish schools and parks.

The trampoline, with all the attendant safety and fairness concerns, offers Svanholm's children the perfect arena for self-governance.

Although many residents are “allergic to spirituality,” their logo depicts two swans, black and white, facing each other like yin and yang to form a red heart. The green background highlights the community’s ecological focus.

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Svanholm is a rural Danish community of 85 adults and 56 children.

With nearly half of its 988 acres devoted to organic farming, Svanholm’s farms dwarf those of most ecovillages and its farmers have played a pivotal role in setting Danish—and therefore EU—organic standards.

What most interested me, though, was this commune’s 30-year commitment to income sharing. The vast majority of the back-to-the-land communes of the 60s and 70s failed but this one has flourished. If sharing is the essence of ecovillage life, then surely full-on financial sharing deserves our attention—especially when the community is as prosperous as Svanholm.

One key to Svanholm’s economic and social success is its lengthy entry process that selects for new members who are economically capable and psychologically mature.

Svanholm also places a very high priority on integrating children into the everyday life of the community—in contrast to the norm of children spending most of their time in school and daycare because both parents work outside the home. While children live with their parents, they interact on a daily basis with many other adults and children.

Learn more about Svanholm’s approach to economics and child rearing. [Most photos from Svanholm website.]

Official website:

Svanholm Photo Gallery

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