The “grid” is short for “electrical grid,” a network for delivering electricity to people from utilities. Thus, someone who lives “off the grid” lives independently of the electrical grid and, by extension, other utility services like sewer, water supply or natural gas. A person or community living off the grid may get their energy from renewable sources like solar or wind power, and they might get their water from a well or lake.
Communities that live off the grid also try to be as self-sufficient as possible. In addition to having its own infrastructure, an off the grid community will often be a farm whose members try to lower their impact on the environment. Consider the following examples:
1) Twin Oaks
Located in central Virginia; the Twin Oaks community is arguably one of the oldest off-the-grid communities, for it was established in 1967. It covers 450 acres and is home to over 100 people, including 15 children. The members use a combination of solar power and locally harvested firewood to heat their buildings. They have their own farm on which they raise cows, chickens and various fruits and vegetables. They also have an apple orchard and an herb garden in which they raise medicinal herbs. Many of their fruits, vegetables and herbs are native to the region.
2) Greater World Community
Located in Taos, New Mexico, the Greater World Community is the first off-the-grid community to have “Earthships” or houses made from environmentally friendly materials like adobe or recycled tires. Earthships are also fueled by wind and/or solar power. Residents harvest rain water. The only utility most people have a propane tank for heating water and cooking. The Greater World Community, which was established in the 1990s, covers 634 acres and is home to over 140 people.
3) The Rainbow Gathering
The Rainbow Gathering describes any of several temporary communities assembled by members of the Rainbow Family of Living Light. The first Gathering took place in the US in 1972. Since then, there have been Rainbow Gatherings in Russia, Europe, Mexico, and Canada as well as the US. The Gatherings usually last about a month and can have thousands of attendees. Rainbow Gatherings are inspired by Native American traditions and stress environmental stewardship and non-violence. Accordingly, they use hand tools and devices powered by wind or the sun.
4) Torri Superiore Ecovillage
Located in Italy, the Torri Superiore Ecovillage began life as a hamlet back in the 13th century. It was eventually abandoned, and the buildings began to fall into disrepair. In 1989, a group called the Torri Superiore Cultural Association formed, and they decided to repair the buildings and then moved in. The Association used only natural and locally available materials for the repairs, and they also established a farm that includes goats and olive trees. Three years later, they began inviting visitors to various workshops and events devoted to eco-village living and environmental stewardship.