Autonomy… We all dream of it while we remain dependent on the system. How to get out of it? Brigitte and Patrick Baronnet’s experience is inspiring, its reality gives us hope. It is a story of harmony with the four elements… or how Man at its centre can align himself with the environment to achieve balance and self-sufficiency.
Brigitte and Patrick Baronnet blew it all off 48 years ago to settle down in a small French village in Loire-Atlantique. They have since become pioneers in food and energy self-sufficiency and claim a “happy sobriety”, while having a TV, refrigerator, mobile phone and computer.
When they arrived almost 50 years ago, the audacious gamble of the two Parisians made the villagers smile and mistake them for sweet utopian dreamers. Since then, the couple has welcomed nearly 50,000 people who are curious to learn the techniques and processes that have allowed them to live almost completely independently on half a salary. “We replaced the salary by direct production and we eliminated the needs induced by advertising, we replaced the supermarket by a garden, the electricity bills by solar and wind energy autonomy, the wood with heating bills, we eliminated banks, loans and interest… We chose our dependence, the one with the 4 elements! Sobriety must be happy,” adds Patrick. We do not give up, we choose a way of life that does not obey the injunctions of the consumer society.
This is what their self-sufficient home allows them to do from floor to roof. A roof on which you can see the solar panels with the wind turbines in the background. Autonomous in water for 48 years and in electricity for 21 years, energy efficient, with a Mandala garden cultivated in permaculture and vegetables shared with the 6 inhabitants of the eco-hameau who joined the couple some time ago. Here nothing is lost and everything can be recycled. The sun and wind supply the house with enough energy to run the household appliances. Rainwater is collected, stored and filtered naturally. Finally, the land feeds the inhabitants with the organic vegetables it produces. Man contributes to this ingenious system by producing quality fertilizer. “What an idea to deposit our organic matter in drinking water! This is absolutely absurd, whereas dry toilets save a lot of water, but above all, once transformed by compost, faeces become a humus almost as rich as that of the forest. »
The habitats built in participatory projects offer innovative architectures. Terra, a young woman architect who recently joined them, built her 30 m2 round house with… straw, earth and wood for only 10 000 euros! But the nerve of the war will always remain, as Patrick Patrick humorously points out, the PFH – to hear this Fucking Human Factor – which, in a community life, represents the main obstacle. But in the eco-hameau, harmony reigns. Everyone lives in their own sphere of intimacy, while common spaces make it possible to share initiatives, to understand each other, to defuse conflicts in order to live well together. Le Zom, a large domed house welcomes the inhabitants of the eco-hameau for meetings but also the outside public for yoga, dance and other activities in accordance with the peace of the place. Patrick and Brigitte Baronnet have no other goal than to spread out, to make known a perfectly reproducible way of life, yet it is necessary to be ready to leave a consumerist way of life to decrease serenely and live happily its sobriety!