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Off-grid ...because freedom is the ultimate goal

Freedom. That is the ultimate goal in life, isn’t it? The freedom to go where you want. The opportunity to make valuable connections with other people or with nature.

As humans we are connected to this society and that is great, but sometimes it can also feel oppressive. Do you sometimes feel like you want a bit more independence? Do you want to be more in charge of how you live your life? Then off-grid might be your way to go!

Disclaimer: Living off-grid is the most wonderful thing there is, but it also involves an adventure. So start with small steps or just give this lifestyle a try first.

Off-grid means that you live almost completely independent from society. You are free to decide how you want to stay connected to society. Some people are fully committed, others choose to go off-grid for energy or food only.

You may choose to live off-grid, you may just as well buy a plot of land in the Pyrenees and have no other choice or perhaps you have a holiday home where you just want to get completely connected. Why you do it is not important, what is important is that you do it. We will help you with every aspect to make this dream come true

Off-grid, back to the Middle Ages?

 Off-grid, back to the Middle Ages? Not at all!

Some people are afraid that if you want to live a self-sufficient life, you have to give up a lot of comfort. Although it requires a different mindset, you can still perfectly lead a life of luxury off the grid.

High-speed Internet: check.

Sauna or hot tub: check.

Heating: check.

Hot water: check.

Electricity 24/7: check.

Dream life: check

Experience true freedom

Freedom is in your mind. Full stop. But you will feel much more free when you are sitting in your hot tub under a starlit sky with a glass of homemade wine. Soon you forget the gloomy, but never really dark, nights due to the polluted air. In the beginning, you have to get used to the wonderful silence after years of enduring city noises.

Do you really plan to do this? In the beginning, it is possible that people around you will say you are crazy. After all, it is a confrontation for them that you are the one who dares to do it.

It is true that sometimes it is a challenge to go in a direction that may be the opposite of the people around you. However, the people that are true friends will encourage you.

Launching an off-grid project is more than buying a plot of land or, if you have any, converting a house and land to off-grid. You have to examine your life in every aspect and we are there, as designers and coaches, to develop together an off-grid strategy that is best for you.

Off-grid strategy

Do you choose to go off-grid from the electricity network first? Or do you want to go completely off-grid right away? These are the things to consider.

Electricity supply: sun, wind, water, biogas. It is better to hedge your bets and important to concentrate on electricity storage.

Waste: we do not only rely on society for inputs. It also helps us with waste collection and the processing of grey water and black water. There are different options for this as well, ranging from zero-waste living to composting toilets.

(Drinking) water: there is no life without water. Thanks to ancient and modern techniques, it is possible to have access to drinking water almost anywhere in the world. Depending on where you are, it can be very easy or rather difficult.

Food: this is our speciality. How can you get (a large part of) your food without too much effort? We look at your eating habits and determine together what is possible. From keeping animals to planting food forests and growing vegetables.

Growing your own food

Growing food can be very demanding. For some people, it is an intensive activity. Is it possible to produce enough food considering the surface of your plot? Is it first of all necessary to provide all your food? Perhaps a nice supplement from the garden will be enough for you.

Growing food from the comfort of your own home: we are strong supporters of food forests. In a food forest, we mimic a natural forest ecosystem, with the difference that almost everything is edible. You only have to plant a tree once and it will provide food for the rest of your life. Our modern diet consists mainly of annual plants. When growing your own vegetables, you know that you have to start all over again at the beginning of each season. With trees or perennials, you have a steadier food supply and no need to start from scratch every time.

The pitfall of off-grid living

Sometimes we may want to cut all ties and isolate ourselves completely from the outside world, both literally and figuratively, out of frustration.

However, we cannot ignore that as human beings we are social creatures. That we need other people for our personal development and well-being, no matter if you are an extrovert or an introvert.

Self-Sufficient or autarkic living does not necessarily mean that we do everything ourselves. That is not the point at all. It is the interconnectedness that makes an off-grid experience so strong.

It is better to have lots of interconnected and incomplete islands than lots of isolated entities. This will not only feel safer, but it will also make you feel good.

It may seem contradictory, but when you go off-grid you actually create your own grid with other people.

Most of our clients choose to remain dependent on others for certain things. But this shouldn’t stop you, as well as other clients, from going for complete independence.

The strengths of Commensalist®​

Soil experts: we choose the right plants and planting schemes for your specific soil type

Edible plants: we have been working with edible plants for humans and animals for many years

Aesthetic design: from ornamental gardens for celebrities to food forests and horse paradises

1:1 coaching: a good design is an extension of your personality. Good coaching is essential

Strong team: landscape architects, business experts, agricultural engineers and horse therapists

 

What other commensalists* say

* Commensalism: when two living organisms help each other without being dependent on each other. A horse gets nutrition from a plant, in exchange it spreads the seeds of that plant all over the pasture. Commensalist® clients automatically become commensalists: a constructive relationship is created between Commensalist and its clients. We help clients create a paradise on earth, you help Commensalist® to have an even more positive impact on this planet.

Ilke from Bruges

Out of the box with attention to specific wishes. Starting from the existing, you have submitted a suggestion that immediately gave a “wow” feeling!

Annelien from Leuven

We really enjoyed our collaboration and would definitely recommend you to other clients. We really liked the enthusiasm and the “fresh” ideas. Also the willingness to adjust where needed. The cooperation went very smoothly for us.

Tim & Nathalie uit Ruisbroek

What a personal, informative, professional and warm approach the Commensalist team has! We chose their expertise to transform our land into a food forest. Louis and his team exceeded our expectations!

Kirsten and Peter from Steenhuffel

The idea of having more flowers and a paradise for insects and birds is why we chose you. Definitely recommendable because of the ( environmental) approach.

Sabine from Bruges

We had been looking for a long time for someone with a future-oriented vision of garden – nature – biodiversity to help us with the transformation of our garden… After reading an article in De Standaard, I knew that Louis was the person we were looking for. We instantly connected during the first meeting. Louis made a fantastic design for our garden, completely according to his and our vision. In the years to come, we will see our garden change step by step into a garden that suits our way of life and our vision on gardens/nature/biodiversity. Thanks Louis and many congratulations! Warm greetings Sabine

Our Mission

Commensalist® has a threefold mission:

Heal the earth

Our goal is to create as many hectares of land as possible that are sustainable, regenerative and healthy.

Inspire people

You can only plant a seed if it has first germinated in people’s minds, which is why our second mission is to inspire as many people as possible.

Have fun

Sustainability is only really sustainable if everyone who participates in the project also truly enjoys the design process and the project meetings. That is why the third mission is: to enjoy life as much as possible’.

These are the three conditions that we set for our employees as well as for our customers. We consider all three to be equally important; one cannot exist without the other.

Louis De Jaeger's persoonlijk paardenverhaal

Louis De Jaeger, oprichter van Commensalist®, is zelf een enorme paardenliefhebber. Ondanks dat hij van zichzelf vindt veel te weinig te paard te rijden grijpt hij de kans zodra die zich voor doet. In zijn jeugd volgde hij paardrijlessen op een manege. Later ging hij mee met een vriendin en haar paard de velden in.

Hij genoot van paardrijtochten in de voorlopers van het Himalaya gebergte nabij Tibet, alsook in Finland en in het zuiden van Frankrijk. Het gebeurt tegenwoordig nog wel eens dat Louis een boer helpt koeien te drijven in een natuurgebied, te paard.

Op deze foto is hij te zien met zijn vrouw op de grens van Texas en New Mexico, in de Verenigde Staten, kort nadat ze in het huwelijksbootje zijn gestapt.

 

Author & Public Speaker

Louis De Jaeger, founder of Commensalist®, has written a book about the future of agriculture and land management. Europe used to be one big patchwork landscape. Today, we have degraded this to single-crop farmland as well as (horse) pastures. It is the mission of Commensalist® to restore this patchwork landscape.

This means that we work with as many layers as possible in a horse pasture. We start under the surface by working on a living soil. On top of that we have a healthy grass mix. Higher up, we will have medicinal and nutritious herbs, edible bushes. We finish with small and bigger trees, which are also edible for a horse.

The natural habitat of horses is an open forest or steppe. We try to recreate this environment as much as possible with the unique Commensalist® design method.

Grants & aids

Commensalist® assists in the search for grants and aids if possible. For planting trees, grants of up to 80% can be obtained. For planting hedges and digging ponds, grants of up to 80% can be awarded.

If you live in a territory where wolves are a risk, you can apply for a grant to install a wolf-proof fence.