Mark Boyle, better known as the “Moneyless man”, is bringing his message of unconditional giving to a permaculture project in Ireland called An Teach Saor; Gaeilge for “the free house.” When it’s complete, Boyle’s community center will offer workshops and lectures; food from the on-site orchards, gardens, and greenhouses; performances; accommodation; and a pub called The Happy Pig—the majority of which won’t cost guests a dime.
Boyle and a team of dedicated volunteers are currently building the property from natural and recycled materials. Anything that isn’t free will be crowdfunded. Boyle has already raised the funds to build The Happy Pig pub from an old pig shed, and volunteers have flooded in to learn how to construct inexpensive buildings from materials like straw bales and cob. The structure of the pub cost 11 percent of a conventional build—now the team is raising funds for the interiors, and people who donate could receive gifts ranging from a one-day workshop to a weekend on the property with 10 friends.
This labor of love is based on the idea of a gift economy, in which those who receive favors are encouraged to pay them forward. Boyle was studying economics when he encountered Gandhi’s teachings and realized that the social and ecological destruction the world is facing stems from greed and a separation between people and what they consume. “If we all grew our own food, we wouldn’t waste as much,” he says.
Boyle lived for more than three years without spending a penny. In addition to growing his own food, he lived in an off-grid caravan, and either walked or cycled to get around. He’s given lectures and a TED Talk on his vision for unconditional giving and the importance of community over money.
Related: Help the Food is Free Project transform your community
After The Happy Pig’s interiors are complete, in what Boyle hopes will be early August, the free house will begin its mission to offer a space for people to learn, create, share, and give. “We want The Happy Pig to become a place where people can freely explore wild food, forest gardening, gift economics, art, free education, home-brewing, music and language, philosophy, beekeeping, circus shenanigans, herbalism, perennials, natural building, no-dig annual vegetable production, writing, coppicing, storytelling, bushcraft, off-grid living, and much more,” says Boyle.
What a beautiful place it will be.
Photos courtesy of Mark Boyle’s Facebook page.