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Guy, Viki and Baby Leon live in a commune in Devon (Picture: SWNS)
A couple quit the rat race to join a shared living community – where they grow their own food and their neighbours help raise their baby.
Viki Erlacher-Downing, 29, and her husband, Guy, 27, bonded over their love of the great outdoors when they met in 2016.
But they soon grew tired of city living in Brighton – and made a drastic decision.
The pair quit their jobs and relocated to a sustainable living community just outside of Totnes, Devon.
Now, they live in a wood cabin on 44 acres of land alongside seven other eco-conscious families.
They grow their own food, with all the harvest shared between members. Residents also divide up the chores that need doing.They don’t plan on going back to their old life (Picture: SWNS)
Viki said: ‘A big reason we chose this lifestyle was because of our environmentalist beliefs.
‘But we also believe it’s better for us mentally to be out here closer to nature.’
Guy and Viki decided to move at the start of the pandemic.
Viki, who is originally from Austria, said: ‘We decided to take the plunge in March 2020 during the first lockdown.
‘We were living in Brighton but kept brainstorming on how we could live closer to nature.’
The couple spent time volunteering with other families already living down in the cooperative before they were offered a trial membership within the community in April of last year.
After moving to the plot, called Permaculture Co-op, the pair welcomed their son, Leon, six months ago. Baby Leon is looked after by the whole community – spending lots of time outside.
‘It’s been a joy to bring up Leon in this magical place,’ says Viki.They’re in the process of building their own home (Picture: SWNS) They currently live in a wood cabin on 44 acres of land (Picture: SWNS)
‘Living in a community meant that we had a lot of support from our neighbours in those first months when we became parents.’
Now, they live there full-time, and, with the help of their community members, they are building their own house from timber frame made form locally sourced wood.
They work ‘normal’ jobs three days a week, with the rest of their time spent on site. Guy is a charity coordinator, while Viki is an applied social science researcher – writing a PhD on climate change and mental health.
The community has seasonal tasks like gathering wood, and there is a rota for weekly tasks, like taking out the bins and cleaning communal areas.The commune grows food for everyone (Picture: SWNS)
Viki said: ‘Guy and I have a range of things we do on a regular basis, like planting and tending to our garden, pumping drinking water by hand from the communal borehole, collecting rain water for washing up and emptying our personal compost toilet.
‘A normal day at the moment might involve a little weeding and planting, then any weekly chores like collecting water or emptying the toilet.
‘We are working towards a realistic goal of growing a healthy majority of our fresh food.’
The couple say they have no regrets about escaping the rat race.Neighbours help the pair raise their baby (Picture: SWNS)
Viki added: ‘We both work jobs outside of the co-op and spend time visiting family and friends who all live in towns and cities.
‘But living full-time in a ‘normal’ flat would feel quite lonely, limiting and disconnected from nature.
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‘We can’t see ourselves going back to are old life unless we absolutely had to.’
Despite the green living, Viki, Guy, and little Leon still find time to chill in much the same way as any other family.
‘We might live off-grid but we still enjoy watching films and series, so we might finish the day by streaming an episode or two of whatever we are watching.’
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