ReGen Villages is a modern real-estate firm that has focused on developing off-grid communities, capable of producing their own food and maintaining decentralized electric grids.
ReGen’s founder, James Erlich, likens it to the Tesla of modern eco-villages. “Regenerative means systems where the output of one system can actually be the input of another,” he says, indicating a cycle where household food waste is composted and fed to flies, which in turn feeds the fish that fertilize the aquaponic gardens. From these gardens come the fruits and vegetables.
In addition to the aquaponic farms, each village has a seasonal garden that is fertilized by livestock, used to feed the citizens.
Rainwater is collected, stored and used to feed the crops and solar panels are all over the buildings, gathering electricity.
The endeavor was inspired, partly, by creating a disaster resistant community. Erlich’s family was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“My family was without power for three weeks, and it got real after about three days,” he said. “You run out of food, and your credit card doesn’t work, and even if you have cash, you go to the supermarket and the shelves are bare. It doesn’t take long for civilisation to collapse, for there to be chaos.”
This is why producing a community where farming is at its core is key. “It’s this concept that the way you look at a subdivision is edible, so you walk through the path and there’s berries and fruit trees and nuts and spices and all kinds of things to enjoy,” he says. “We don’t do lawns, we don’t do golf courses or tennis courts. That’s a good place to grow food, so we’re going to grow food there.”
Currently, ReGen, which was founded in 2015, has partnered with Copenhagen-based architecture firm Effekt to design all the villages. Two are currently in progress, with the first site in the Netherlands, undergoing archaeological testing to make sure the village won’t be built on top of any historic ruins.
Each village will house 100 families on about 50 acres. Each house will have an attached greenhouse for growing personal crops. The communal farms and livestock will be managed and run by ReGen staff.
The next step for the company is designing all of the specific houses for the development in the Netherlands and compiling a list of people that are interesting in moving in.