Models of Repopulation

As you may know, alongside making yurts and other tents and supplying replacement yurt covers for a big chunk of the UK campsite industry, we also are looking to create a sort of multi-use site in the centre of Italy, yes juggling many balls may be demanding at times,

Lately we have had a short break from making yurt covers that has allowed us to focus on a model for repopulating rural villages in southern Europe.

We are now working on the creation of a cultural association called Heartland (like the site we are building), whose aims are to promote eco-tourism, organic agricultural and low impact ways of building, as ways to repopulate the abandoned lands of southern Europe.

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The abandoned church of Valley Piola

In Italy there has been a very strong trend of rural depopulation: whole villages on the Apennines are now empty, one example is valley Piola now for sale as a whole village and in other places, you can be given an old house for free if you agree to renovate it. The historic centres of quite a few villages in south Italy are drawing investors that way.

We felt that we want to find a way to give something back to the region of Abruzzo and the best thing we can focus on, is to help this amazing region to introduce systems of sustainable tourism and green building legislation. Italy, as a whole, is still behind Northern Europe when it comes to the green tourism wave: yurt campsites, holidays on working farms, low impact building etc., even though the Italians love going on holiday and have lots of it.

Anyway we are getting off track here, the issue is that many places in southern Europe have become depopulated, due to economic issues (mainly), a change in life style and the hardship of mountain living and agriculture –  the village contracts inwards so to speak, the land furthest from the village core, at times become totally abandoned, the dirt roads fall into disuse.

The model we are developing currently is one in which those lands which are furthest from the village get developed as a sort of green belt, – we realise that the fact the village contracted inwards, (meaning that most people from the surrounding countryside now live inside the village), means that change in the centre is hardest. The Italian village is like a fortress. In the mountains it usually has a very strong identity, people still mill around until late at night in summer, sitting on benches and having coffee. It is hard to bring change to local communes – the village people are welcoming of course (it’s Italy after all), but the strong identity of who they are also serves to inhibit change, the traditional way which is so attractive, serves to keep things as they were.

So instead we are focusing on developing the furthest reaches of rural communes in the mountain region where we want to create the Heartland centre as the place where new movement will come from.

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yurt campsite

The focus is on creating an eco-centre in each commune, it could be a green tourist attraction, a small yurt village or maybe an organic farm where you can stay, maybe a place that studies new organic farming methods one that can be implemented in the fields of the old farmers, crops like giant bamboo, truffle growing, ancient grains.

Or it could be a small mobile saw mill focusing on km zero production in this region where massive mountains oaks grow wild. The only forestry the locals know is called firewood. Anyway you get the point, endowed lands gets developed into a green zone, that serves as some sort of responsible and ecological attraction.


mobile saw milling

Next we are looking to the Region to establish new laws to help green building and low impact structures to be built in that green zone, with the hope to attract those green operators: the people that will come like pioneers to dig the ancient hills and plow it into an organic paradise will get an incentive The back-to-the-land movement is strong, if a bit under publicised, in Italy.

There has been so much in the area – growing ancient varieties of grain, fruit and vegetables, there is so much nature, amazing mountains, in fact Abruzzo has more national parks than almost anywhere else in Europe, walks between caves in the mountains, wild life to dream of, but yet it is still falling into abandonment. It is amazing, because, being specialists in alternative tourism and professional campsite builders, we feel we are able to help this region take a leap into a sustainable future, away from creating hotels on the mountain and paved walking paths. We envisage more old stone houses becoming Alberghi Difusi, yurts serving as small places to stay, safari tents as places to holiday on working organic farms, small dirt roads that lead from one small mountain municipality are tied together green area to neighbouring green area, what a dream right?!!.

There is a lot of work to do that is for sure, but it’s nice seeing the first seeds starting to grow, people coming to the region in a responsible manner, no more of selling whole villages to some foreign investors. Rural communities need to maintain their identity not to sell their soul, if you too are looking to help the sustainable future of southern Europe we urge you to get involved, thinking about having your own campsite?, your own little bit of paradise where you grow organic produce? The situation in a lot of rural Southern Europe is similar to that in Abruzzo, Italy.

Little by little we see how our small area of activity has already made a difference, our centre building is already forming new relationships, already bringing energy and people to an abandoned area, and its amazing to realise that the whole side of the local hill would turn back into jungle if it wasn’t for our efforts, to know the olives are cut again, the wells are all clean, to know that the thousand year old road is now being resurfaced by us in conjunction with the local commune. It feels good to be able to make a difference and help those mountain people of southern Europe come back to their roots in a new people, a new generation of green mountain people.

abruzzo road building

Building old roads

If all of this speaks to you too feel free to contact us, you can also become a member of the Heartland Association or subscribe to the mailing list (button at bottom of page) to keep abreast of new development of the association and our tent making activity.

Acrylic Canvas

Yes, to most tent people, the idea of acrylic canvas, sounds strange and unnatural, on these beautiful, traditional nomadic structures. But, the truth is, of course, that to make cotton and polycotton able to withstand the elements in a European climate, various chemical products need to be applied. Don’t worry, all have passed safety tests.

If you have lived in or worked with canvas, you are well aware of the black spot mould which appears and the inevitable deterioration of the fabric. We recommend, every year, to clean the canvas with a soft brush and mild detergent and then to reproof the canvas with a reproofing solution (we can supply a paint-on FWR (flame, water and rot-proofed) solution). Acrylic canvas, however, doesn’t rot.

8 years ago we made this yurt cover for Tithe Farm B&B in Lincolnshire, England. They chose to have acrylic canvas, rather than the usual cotton canvas we were working with at that time, for longevity.

After standing outside for 8 years in Britain (to quote Biff Vernon, the yurt owner): “The fabric is still completely waterproof. The only problem we had was that where the six ropes that hold the top star down rub on the canvas at the roof/wall angle little holes have been worn. We stuck patches on with fabric glue to reinforce these and wrapped the ropes in a fabric sleeve to reduce the pressure. That might be less of a problem with curved roof poles but ours are straight so there’s quite a sharp angle”. (This issue can be prevented by threading a small piece of clear plastic hosepipe onto the star ropes, to sit on this shoulder of the roof rafter).

(Guess which is new and which is 8 years later).


A more natural fabric like cotton or even polycotton would have well perished long ago in these conditions. The synthetic fabrics are woven and look very much the polycotton, only hang a bit more stiffly.

And here is the lovely little wedding pavilion at Cornish Tipi Holidays which we made 7 years ago, which we have heard, is still fine, only a bit ‘not perfect and wedding’.FullSizeRender-4


These fabrics were PU coated, but we are now working with a FWR (flame, water and rot-proofed), fabric in which the proofing is in the fibres themselves, so is permanent, and can’t be removed.

Acrylic canvas is expensive, and not for everyone, but weighing up all the odds and external conditions, may be worth the investment, especially for a more upmarket look.

The circles of the soul, a healing seminar 19th-24th July

The lure of mother earth  manifests itself with the need to be closer to nature. Getting in touch and communicating with the Earth allows one to become more sensitive, awakening the body’s capacity for deep listening, listening to the vibrations which resonating with our cells allow you to bring out the souls real message, bringing them to the level of consciousness, using them for our evolution, in other words finding our inner voices.

During the days stay at Heartland, where nature has restored its balance, we would get in tune with the rhythm of nature and to listen to the voice of our soul, reestablishing communication between the body, consciousness, mind and soul.

Heartland in Torricella Peligna is a space near the “sacred” mountain “The Majella”. The seminar will take place in the space of Heartland where the land has a high vibration, and where once stood the Temple of ARTEMIS, Athena.

Accommodation in yurts allows us to tune on the rhythm of mother Earth during the night when we are open and we are able to accept unconditionally all we need. This will allow us to purify us from pollution and regenerate.

The program of the event

arriving on July 19 from 09:00 to 11:00
12:00 Opening circle of seminars .

Healing the Heart
seminar Usui Reiki and Karuna Reiki .

The Runes of Magic
Preparation of Runes with clay.
Introduction in divination .
recommended book to buy
Rune -Tomo 1 Norak Odal and Fjord White

The Tree of Life – a human symbol of the soul
bioinformative technologies Arkady Petrov
besides illusion of duality , male and female .

We will conclude the event program with a sweat lodge to purify ourselves and bring us back to the everyday clear and ready.

The event will be run by Angela Schmel and Pina, it will be a bilingual event so a good way to learn some Italian, and a one in a lifetime chance to experience the healing of the mountains of Abruzzo

Group Work

Wow, long two weeks of events and having people in Central Italy, we started by building a masonry mass heater stove, a week of hard work with a master stove brick man called Martins Brikmans, between laying bricks in sand and call mortar we got to work on some inner realm, mainly dreams, it was interesting to see how people move in connection to our energy and place, also learning to work within our own group much more, the stove took place bit by bit layer by layer, it is constructed of an inner shell of fire bricks, covered by normal clay bricks, the heat is diverted to a masonry bench, it than crosses the wall, and passes to another masonry bench, and only than it goes up the chimney.


Masonry stove work

masonry stove

The bench at the other side of the wall

The high energy and work week meant there were moments it was hard to keep up with all that was happening, working with power off-grid, running the camp, building and keeping a level of energetic clarity through it all, we felt like we lost the space one night, than a quick turn around and we started our next event of yurt making, a small group this time and so it was easier to get going.

It took a few hiccups until we got the momentum going again, it was nice again to be making yurts and teaching to people that actually plan to live in one later on.

We had more time to practice holding the campsite for a group, and oiling the dynamics we have within ourselves, learning how our own group work tends to spill over into the event if we aren’t on top of it but seeing how its important to keep things in the open rather than create a false front.

drilling the yurt wheel

Drilling with the brace

Beduin bread

Making bedouin bread

Beduin bread

Beduin bread comes out of embers

burning the yurt wheel

Burning the yurt wheel


Pizza night




The warrior pastoral nomads of Abruzzo and yurts for free

I live in an open field in front of the sacred mountain.
In front of me the the valley of the plain is stretched open, an ancient tribal land of the Samnites. Living here in their ancestral land is a special experience, the Earth speaks of their beliefs, their memories Below the land there is ancient spa, it has been there for a thousand years, only to collapse down to the ground after the Second World War – a tunnel feeds a pool, and a stone pipe made out of square stones each a meter wide, with a massive hole in the middle, the pipe and the stone wall drop down some 8 meter to a larger pool, below which there are small rooms, I call it the spa of the Samnites. It’s a healing place, I know this land has been chosen over a thousand years ago for its healing.

I wonder how many of us get to touch that, the slow pace, the ancient, the mountain in front of me is filled with hermitages, with caves, were the Samnites used to offer to their mountain deities, there is an intensity here, everyday is different, the wind blows hard, the rain, the sun, the mountain disappears in cloud, I’m growing to love those rocks, those people, their strength, the warrior nomads, and their ever present mother the mountain.

There is an old custom that those people used to follow, they had a sacred animal, and it would lead them on their migrations, when it stopped in a place so did they, I can see them traveling those valleys behind a white bull, a deer, a special boar even, with their white Abruzzan shepherd dogs, it is said they used to shave all their bodily hair and do so in public in order to frighten the more “civilised” people of Italy.

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The white Abruzzean shepherd  leading the way.

I wonder if this is how they found this place, following their sacred animal, which led them to the sulphury waters coming out the mountain, I can imagine them walking their herds, with swords and baggage, shaved and dressed scantly walking down the dirt paths of the mountain, the view of the mountain opening before them all of a sudden, just as it does for us nowadays, and suddenly the whole southern face of the Majella, their sacred mother is in full view.

On A more practical note, we will be holding another event on the last day of may, it is called “yurts for free” – we have had been trying for a while to establish a system where one can make a yurt for free, using a contionus system of workshops.

The idea is simple we aim to teach you how to make a yurt, but not only we hope you will understand how to make a yurt workshop yourself, so basically one pays for going on the first workshop, than goes back home and organises a yurt workshop, which in turn pays for the materials to make his own yurt, so each yurt is thus “free”.

We will cover all the elements of yurt frame making, peeling coppiced poles, drilling the walls. steaming roof and wall poles, making the wheel, and how to put it all together, tying the walls, etc.

The event will take place in our land in central Italy, in the county of Abruzzo, by a small village called torricella peligna, from the dates of 31st of may to the 5th of june, with the first and last days are mainly for arrival and leaving.

follow this link to read more, or contact us directly if interested, the costs are 35 euros a day or 150 euros for the whole event, this is mainly because we like to keep the costs as low as possible while allowing us to feed whoever comes in style, we would be living outside in yurts, in one of the most beautiful places in Italy. this is a special opportunity for you to learn how to make your own yurt for free.


yurts for free

Yurts for free