A 70’s commune turned modern day intentional living community…
Visiting The Farm in Tennessee was one part of the trip I had really been looking forward to. Months in advanced I had talked to a coordinator at the farm about attending a Farm Experience Weekend. Unfortunately, when the time rolled around, I was flat broke. Still determined to see The Farm I decided to show up on my own and give myself a tour. I’m so glad I went this route instead of the traditional commercialized visit.
Lets back up and explain what The Farm is for those who do not know. Stephen Gaskin was leading inspirational teachings in California in the 70’s and ended up leading a caravan of converted school busses packed with hippies spreading wisdom around the western United States. At the end of the caravan, all these souls would be lost and unsure of where to go. So Stephen decided to pool money with a group of original founders and purchase a piece of land for them to live together as a community.
Stephen was an extremely intelligent individual and had no problem managing this unchartered territory the group was embarking on. A member of the community today even stated “He was a genius, think about it, he up and started a cult that’s lasted more than 40 years.” Though before you start stereotyping, you should understand that this community is far from a cult.
Today The Farm is where individuals go to live who do not see regular society as the best fit for them. This is a place like-minded individuals can live together and create an example of how a community of people can live harmoniously in peace while bettering themselves, others, and the world around them. There is no slaughter of livestock on the farm, there is no violence, and no GMOs. They work together to maintain the massive lot of land they have acquired over the years. All members share a fair portion of ownership of everything in the community. They grow their own food, brew their own wine, and harvest their own energy. Members can apply for grants from The Farm to start projects that will generate revenue, intelligence, or raise morale. There is a swimming hole, a sauna, weekly drum circles, morning yoga, and an endless amount of workshops available from energy efficient home building techniques, to midwifery and vegetarian cooking.
Before I even got past the map at the front gate of The Farm I was approached by a member who offered to show me around. I got to walk through buildings made of clay and straw. I was able to hangout and meet other members in the ecovillage, which had to be my favorite building on The Farm. The outside looked quaint and small but upon entering you were introduced to a warm vibe induced by darkly colored wooden walls and décor under a high-top ceiling.
I was driven throughout the lot where I was able to see the brew house, the dome where the weekly drum circles are held, many of the various styles of homes, and even got to meet some students on an agricultural internship from a university not far from the one I graduated from myself- North Western University. We then headed down to the swimming hole where we sat in the sauna and enjoyed the aroma of burning sage while burning green ourselves.
We got a bit adventurous and snuck down to the late Stephen Gaskin’s home where we found the back door jarred open. You could feel his spirit just walking through the door. Mosaic tiled floors drew you upstairs and into the living room which was piled from wall to wall, ceiling to floor, with books. This house had more books than a library. It is no wonder this man was a genius. He had books on every topic you could ever imagine. There were stacks of colored tiles piled everywhere books weren’t- indicating that he had cut the designed mosaic floor pieces himself. Upon entering his bedroom we found pictures of him back in the day, old typewriters, and an influx of John Lennon-style sunglasses… you know the ones.
We spent the remainder of the day sipping a few brews by the pond enjoying the sounds of nature and feeling quite amused at the random chicken that would mosey by time and again. In the end I am so grateful I came on my own instead of with a tour. Sure I would have spent more time and met more individuals with common interests to mine, but I really got a first hand experience of what real life on The Farm is like and got to make friends with a truly beautiful soul who I stay in contact with today.