The Barley Jar – Urban Ecovillage and Spiritual Community

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  • Last updated: August 2, 2018 (1 second ago)
  • Listing created on: December 20, 2011

Mission Statement

Ecological, spiritual and social sustainability and permaculture.

Community Description

The Barley Jar is an evolving Plum Village inspired permaculture training and practice centre and development site, learning and practicing to live harmoniously with each other and the natural world. We aim to do this to the utmost degree possible. The community is also a kind of research and development laboratory striving to achieve the deepest level of social, spiritual and environmental permaculture based on the Plum Village Tradition and the best available science.
Our desire is to be the change we want to see in the world.

The tradition of Plum Village and Thich Nhat Hanh is a non-denominational spiritual tradition open to individuals of any persuasion ranging from atheist to Catholic, Muslim, Jewish or similar. This tradition focuses on mindfulness in daily life. Though they arise from a Buddhist vision for a global spirituality and ethic, it’s practices are nonsectarian, and their nature is universal.

We will give preference to individuals who are interested in training and deepening their practice at the Barley Jar and ultimately becoming longer term stable members of our community. We are also open to shorter term guests. Currently our community is typically comprised of 2-3 long term members and 3-4 shorter to medium term guests.

Training and deepening practice is possible through a program of courses and activities being developed at the Barley Jar in which residents and broader community members can deepen their practice of permaculture and the Plum Village and Barley Jar traditions. These also include reading and study groups and participation in local retreats and practice opportunities.

We share meals/cooking, groceries, cleaning/chores, music/art/ideas, joint parties, community dinners, collective space and household items, a mixture of privacy and community,…We have positive shared values / enthusiasm for sustainable transportation (bikes, no cars owned), local organic, vegetarian/vegan, natural materials (plastic free), fair trade …inclusion and diversity are highly valued and desired e.g. no labels / all ages / all abilities / queer-positive / all backgrounds / all social (including marginalized) groups etc.

Our house is medium to large, we really like having people around as well as having a balance of privacy, we like having guests.Our members positively contribute to our community and to the network of similar homes that we are a part of.

Physically: We live in a century home at the north end of Brunswick Ave, the house has 6 bedrooms. There are lots of shared spaces – a kitchen, 2 bathrooms, sunroom, dining room, living room, patio-deck, garden. We generally have 6-8 housemates including couples and kids…

Our members tend to be community activists, social change agents, artists and farmers.

We host:

– community wide sunday dinners once a month (last sunday of the month – potluck optional with a music jam) all are welcome
– workshops (anything and everything – politics, art, sustainability, social justice)
– music and art events (house concerts, readings and the like)
– guests from all over

Community Healing:

– The Barley Jar is engaged in a new exploratory healing journey which is making available a room for anyone seeking habitation in Toronto who might want to live and practice with us. The space is reserved for those who have been without a home for long periods of time ….ask for more from any of our members…


  • Type(s): Commune (organized around sharing almost everything), Ecovillage (organized around ecology and sustainability), Spiritual or Religious Community, Unspecified, or Other
  • Programs & Activities: Transition Town (post-petroleum and off-grid communities), School, Educational Institute or Experience, Volunteer, Internship, or Apprenticeship
  • Location: Urban


  • Current Residence Types: Room(s) in a house or building
  • Current Number of Residences: 1
  • Planned number of residences: 2
  • Planned Residence Types: Room(s) in a house or building
  • Housing Provided: Rental, Work-exchange, Included in Membership
  • Land owned by: Individual community member(s)
  • Additional Comments:

    it’s a downtown toronto house and property

    One individual is an owning member.

    We live together as a large single unit with multiple common spaces and we all have private rooms which some of us share when we are away.


  • Adult Members: 6
  • Child Members: 0
  • Non-member Residents: 4
  • Percent Women: 50%
  • Percent Men: 50%
  • Percent Transgender: 0%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    Contact us! Interested guests are asked to participate in the community as members with respect to our various intentions. We ask that visitors participate in contributing to food for longer stays and those who stay two weeks or longer are generally asked to share rent in some way with the collective.

  • Open to new Members: Yes
  • Membership Process:

    we are in a period of frequent turnover so members are frequently coming and going. We only consider inquiries about membership from those who have guested with us for a month and then left. Our membership process includes the one month guest stay, essay type questions and an interview.

  • Additional Comments:

    Our home follows the common spiritual tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh or engaged Buddhism, which is ecumenical in nature and each of us in addition to this tradition have our own individual spiritual beliefs. We are seeking members who are interested in learning and practicing this tradition together with other members of our community. All of us aspire to live by the community intentions and traditions which reflect or deepen our own personal committments to social, spiritual and environmental sustainability.


  • Decision Making: Meritocracy: individuals who have demonstrated greater committment to intentions and traditions are given greater decision making authority. Among those with a given level of decision making authority, decisions are made by concesus.
  • Identified Leader: Yes
  • Leadership Core Group: Yes
  • Additional Comments:

    We have a house coordinator who is the point person for the house.

    Individuals are invited to levels of membership by members with deeper levels of community membership. Depth of membership is based on observed commitment, interest and involvement in the community and to supporting the intentions and traditions of the community. Decision making and responsibility grows with level of commitment and depth of membership. Decisions are generally made in a friendly collegial way reflecting the friendship that we share.

    Most or all decision are generally made by consensus unless they involve the building itself, these decisions are made by the owning member in consultation with the rest of the membership.


  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: Yes
  • Regular Fee per Month: $634
  • Shared Income: None
  • Required Labor Contribution per Week: 4
  • Open to members with existing debt: Yes
  • Additional Comments:

    All members have chores and weekly cooking amounting to about 4 hours/week.

    We contribute to a common bulk items and food pot that we all draw from to pay for food and bulk items. The monthly amount includes rent, utilities and food.

    The average monthly contribution is $640. This covers costs for the room and all utilities (heating, water, phone, internet, losses etc.). Food costs are on average an additional $180. This comes to about $2 per meal. This is further adjusted to each individual according to how much they consume on average. Therefore the total for room, utilities and food is about $814 per month on average. The amount varies depending on the size of room that individuals live in. In addition to ongoing operating costs, the contribution pays for improvements to the house and infrastructure and growth of the community.

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We are connected to the grid.
  • Current renewable energy generation: 100%
  • Energy sources: Solar, Wind, Hydro-Electric
  • Planned renewable energy generation: 100%
  • Current food produced: 0%, or close to 0%
  • Planned food produced: 0%, or close to 0%
  • Food produced locally: Almost All, around 90%


  • Common Facilities: Common House, Garden(s), Internet
  • Internet Available: Yes, community provides it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, it’s fine.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for most people.
  • Shared meals: 2-5 times per week
  • Dietary Practice: Organic (no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers), GMO Free (only non-genetically modified organisms), Vegan Only (plants only, no animal products) – Please check this only if you are 100% Vegan., Mostly Vegan, Opportunivore (dumpster diving, nature harvesting, etc.)
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: Yes – we all share a common diet.
  • Special Diets OK: Sometimes
  • Alcohol Use: Yes, used occasionally.
  • Tobacco Use: No, this community does not permit tobacco use.
  • Additional Diet Comments:

    6-7 dinners cooked per week by members who each cook once per week…gatherings of members and guests include anyone who is home usually more than half of us…except for an intentional community wide once per month sunday dinner (last sunday of the month).

    herbs, berries, greens and some veggies.

    Communally, the house is vegan, however some members are occasional meat eaters and if they do eat animal products they will do so out of the house. We do occasionally consume honey and nutritional yeast, some of us occasionally use fish oil supplements and have leather belts, shoes etc.

    seldom to occasionally.

    No smoking in the house itself, otherwise it’s up to the individual.

    We strive to share meals and cooking and foods that we purchase. We have limited capacity to accommodate special dietary restrictions or people keeping their special food that they require for health reasons. We restrict such specialised diets to those that are prescribed by a medical professional with respect to specialized diets that are generally recognized by the medical community.

  • Common Spiritual Practice(s): Ecumenical (accepts all religions or spiritual practices), Buddhist, Our common spiritual tradition is the Plum Village Zen Buddhist Tradition as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh which is inclusive of individuals who practice any religion or spiritual tradition.
  • Spiritual Practice Expected?: Yes
  • Education Style(s): Up to each family or individual
  • Healthcare Options: Up to each family or individual

Additional Comments

2008 marked the year the community became fully intentional with only intentional community members. Prior to that the community was in slow evolution as housemates less interested in intentional community living slowly left.

As per comment in year formed, all members were intentional community members in this year.

Video Gallery

Community Network or Organization Affiliations

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC)

Community Affiliations

Plum Village (


plastic free, inclusive, environmental, sustainable, inclusion, car free, vegetarian