Written by Eve AnneckeJune 26, 2016

“When you can imagine you begin to create and when you begin to create you realise that you can create a world that you prefer to live in, rather than a world that you are suffering in” – Ben Okri

Lynedoch is a tiny hamlet on the southern tip of Africa, in the Stellenbosch region. Since 1999, it has quietly transformed from a dilapidated and derelict cluster of misused buildings and exploited people into a lively community centring on ecological learning, children, soil and place.

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A gritty journey, taking on a long history of colonisation, apartheid and inequity, the Lynedoch ecovillage now includes the following:

The first mixed-income ecological development in South Africa

  • Sustainability Institute
  • Montessori preschool for 65 infants and pre-schoolers (Lynedoch Early Learning)
  • Excellent quality, independent community primary school for 160 mainly farmworker children with bursaries provided by the SI (SPARK Lynedoch)
  • Livelihoods skills and personal development for an average of 45 local youth (Lynedoch Youth Hub)
  • Agroecology Academy
  • Masters programme in Sustainable Development (all students attend at the SI, run by the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University)
  • Indigenous and food gardens (Lynedoch Land Conservancy)

On-site waste treatment, and 100% recycling of water, using a horizontally integrated wetland

  • Solar water geysers, cutting energy costs by approximately 50% each month
  • Waste recycling
  • 30 mixed-income houses built using appropriate building technologies
  • 102 year old guest house
  • Food focus, where as much of the food as possible is locally sourced, organic and home-grown

From 2006, much of this would not have been possible without Lexi lovers and The Nomad.

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This extraordinary partnership between the Lexi, the Nomad and Lynedoch, through the Sustainability Institute, has made possible significant and far-reaching changes. The ethos of generosity and justice happens every time the Lexi opens her doors to cinema lovers, and every time the Nomad journeys to another place. The volunteers demonstrate this generosity through their energy, commitment and enthusiasm. All this helps create a fairer world. In practice, the Lexi and Nomad attract a network of movie-goers who have created an entirely different reality at Lynedoch. The key features of this support include:

  • A new early learning centre building for the infants and pre-schoolers (mainly farmworker children)
  • Initiating a youth hub, focusing on working with adolescents, especially in completing school and job creation
  • The beautiful Lynedoch Land Conservancy, home to over1000 indigenous trees, shrubs and vegetable gardens. The financial investment in this Conservancy made possible assistance for homes for 10 previously disadvantaged families
  • Ongoing support for Lynedoch Early Learning, a Montessori based approach to high quality education for 65 tiny humans
  • Water capturing and 100% recycling in a water-scarce region

“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a country” – Nelson Mandela


In troubled times, perhaps now more than ever, the importance of what people do to make a difference is all there is. Not saving the planet, not great speeches. Just simply leaving a place better than when one found it. Strange things happen when people connect, and when people connect with nature. Lexi and Nomad audiences show that what we dream is possible. So dream big. While extraordinary stories are told on the big screen, Lynedoch lives are changing.