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Quick Jumps


What is The Farm?

Where is The Farm?

Why Tennessee?

What are our religious beliefs?

How is the community managed?

How do people support themselves?

What was "the change over"?

What is the economic commitment of membership?

Why is it called The Farm?

What about visitors?
What is The Farm?
The Farm community is a cooperative enterprise of families and friends living on three square miles in southern middle Tennessee. We started The Farm in hopes of establishing a strongly cohesive, outwardly-directed community, a base from which we could, by action and example, have a positive effect on the world as a whole. Learn more about the History of The Farm, and The Farm Today

Where is The Farm?
The Farm was settled near Summertown, Tennessee on 1750 acres of rolling hilltops. It is 30 miles from the nearest hospital, 50 miles from the nearest interstate highway, and 75 miles from the nearest major city. It is also 35 miles from the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan.
The early community settlement was built entirely from salvaged, recycled, and local materials. A $1 road grader cut the roads, and a $1 railroad tower provided the public water supply. Scrapped school buses and army tents provided shelter from below-zero temperatures until the sawmill could begin milling native oak and salvage crews could harvest old tobacco barns, factories, and condemned houses.
On a budget of $1 per person per day and no grants, no foodstamps, and no welfare - the original 320 settlers bought the land, erected the buildings, and became agriculturally self-sufficient within 4 years.

Why Tennessee?
In the mid-1960s, many people went through a cultural change that took them away from their roots and cast them adrift, searching for something better. Disillusioned by the Vietnam War, disturbed by increasing violence and injustice in the nation, encouraged by the successes of the Civil Rights movements, and empowered by the strength of their numbers - many gravitated toward the West Coast looking for alternatives. A hysterical nation reacted to the Hippies by pursuing them in their homes and workplaces, and locking them up in prison - where many remain today. In 1970, a caravan of more than 300 of us left California to start an experimental community where our ideals could find expression in our daily lives. At $70 an acre, Tennessee gave us access to a large amount of land at an affordable price.

What are our religious beliefs?
The Farm is a nondenominational church. We like to call ourselves "free thinkers", because we discuss religion and philosophy in terms that do not exclude any possibilities. People come to The Farm from a variety of religious traditions and disciplines, and find those views treated with honor and respect. While individual practices may vary, our group practice is an on-going, free-ranging discussion. We consider ourselves to be a spiritual community. In keeping with our deep reverence for life, we are pacifists, conscientious objectors, and most of us are vegetarians. On Sunday mornings many of us like to gather for group meditation and church services out in the meadow.

How is the community managed?
All members of The Farm are expected to contribute to the financial upkeep of the community through their earnings. Since our community operates like a small town, it has some of the same needs. We maintain our own roads, municipal buildings, and public water system. Community policies are arbitrated and implemented through an elected board. Important questions are discussed at town meetings and decided by community votes. We don't always reach complete consensus, but we generally try to have a high level of agreement in everything we decide.

How do people support themselves?
About a third of the adults in the community work in nearby towns to support themselves and their families. Some work as independent contractors, while others work in local shops and industries. The rest of us make our living within the community, working for homegrown cottage industries like  The Book Publishing Company, The Birth Gazette, Village Media, The Farm Catalog, The Mail Order Company, The Soy Dairy, Dye Works, The Tempeh Lab, and Mushroom People. Others are involved in community services like The Farm School, The Farm Store, The Welcome Center, The Farm Clinic, WUTZ-FM, and our community government. Some of us work in global transformation efforts through Farm-based charities.

What was the "change over"?
By 1980, the population had swelled to over 1200 people, but a series of reverses in agriculture and other enterprises led to a scaling back in the early '80s. "Human-scale" for that size parcel of land had been exceeded. Aware of their impact on the surrounding forest, the settlement cut its agricultural acreage by going to more intensive and permacultural farming methods, relocated outlying neighborhoods that impinged too deeply into the hardwood forests, and zoned off more than half of its acreage from all development other than management designed to encourage biodiversity.
From 1971 to 1983, The Farm had a traditional communal economy like the Shakers or the Hutterites. After 13 years, a financial crisis forced the reorganization of our economy.


What is the economic commitment of membership?
All members of The Farm pay monthly dues which contribute to the upkeep of the community. We call it our "rent". The level of individual contribution, which is usually between $75 and $125 per adult per month, is based on a budget that is drafted and re-drafted at town meetings and voted on, line-by-line, once a year.

Why is it called The Farm?
Like most things on The Farm, people called it just what it was, with little embellishment. For examples: Farm Road, First Road, Second Road, etc.; The Book Publishing Company, The Soy Dairy, The Tempeh Lab, The Farm School, The Farm Store, The Welcome Center, etc. Today The Farm is less a farm and more like an ecology of systems.

What about visitors?
We enjoy having visitors who write ahead to make arrangements. We have many accommodations available and  The Farm Store has an assortment of foods and supplies. Visitors are asked not to bring weapons or pets. Swimming is available in our swimming hole at a guest rate of $5 per day per adult, $3 for children. We can also make arrangements for groups to include a tour and a vegetarian luncheon. Retreat and conference services are also available. To get in touch for more information, visit our contact page.

The Farm
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Alicia Bay Laurel

What Did the Hippies Want?

We wanted intimacy--not a neighborhood where you didn't know anyone on the block, or you competed, kept up with the Joneses.  

A hunter-gatherer or early agricultural community meant that people lived, worked and sought deeper contact with the holy spirit as a group, and they all knew one another, from cradle to grave. I used to call my hippie friendships "a horizontal extended family," as opposed to the ancient tribal extended family, which was multi-generational, and therefore, vertical.

We wanted a culture which acknowledged the human body, not just for sex, but to hug each other, to be naked without shame, to revere the body with natural foods, beneficial exercise, herbs, baths, massage, deep understanding. This was not part of the culture from which we came.

We wanted a culture that thrived on gift-giving. We hitchhiked, shared our food and drugs, gave away our possessions. People who could afford to buy land invited others who could not to live there.
We opened free stores, free clinics, free kitchens, not just in the Haight, but everywhere we went. We wanted be living proof that God was taking care of us and therefore there was no need to hoard.
We wanted to live without the constraints of time. We wanted to wake up each day and decide what would be the most fun to do that day--or just find out as it went along. We wanted to go with the flow, follow our bliss, be here now. This was in complete opposition to the culture from which we came.
We wanted new ways to value one another, rather than by wealth, status, looks, achievements, machismo, as our culture of origin had taught us, and continues to teach us through the media. We wanted to value one another for being lovable and real.
We valued spiritual depth, which we referred to as "heavy." We admired one another for being happy. We admired those who offered selfless service or peaceful resolution of conflict.We wanted a spirituality that actually caused you to grow as a person, not one in which people attended religious gatherings for social status. We wanted to be guided by our own Inner Spirits, rather than by priests.
We thirsted for the spiritual awareness and grace we experienced on psychedelics, without psychedelics, or in addition to them. Many hippies would spent their last cent on a weekend workshop that promised to "change your life forever." That was how so many gurus found followers in those days.
We wanted to live in harmony with the earth, the plants and animals, the indigenous peoples of the earth, with each other, with ourselves. We were the fuel behind the rapid expansion of the environmental movement. We experimented with living arrangements that we thought would harmonize with nature. We sought out indigenous tribal elders as our teachers.
We wanted to make the things we wore and used with our hands, grow our food and medicine, feel all kinds of weather--all the experiences our modern urban lives had excluded in the name of convenience and comfort. We wanted to live on the road, have adventures, build things that hadn't been built before, and live in them.
We wanted to live our mythic selves, give ourselves names that resonated with our souls, dress in costumes that expressed our dreams, do daring deeds, dance as if no one was looking, decorate our homes with magical things, listen to music that took us out of ordinary reality into altered states of awareness.
We wanted to see life without violence. We wanted media that contained truth. Some of us risked our lives to find out what the government was doing and let the underground press know. We wanted to talk about things in print that we were not allowed to discuss in our culture of origin.
We wanted to live without stupid, arbitrary rules, either for ourselves or for our children. Some of our children, as adults today, say they wish we had been more protective of them, or offered more structure. We only knew what we endured, being as culturally different from our culture of origin as Chinese are from Italians, and punished for it, and wished to spare our children these experiences. However, some portion of kids raised by hippie parents grew up to be hippies themselves. At that point, one can say, a new culture was born and continues.

...Alicia Bay Laurel

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A short History of the "Back to Nature" Movement

What is The Farm
Where is The Farm
Why Tennessee
What are our religious beliefs
Community Management


There was a massive change of consciousness in the 60's. No one knows just what caused it, although there were many theories -- ingesting of psychedelics, a natural evolutionary shift, minds zapped from extraterrestrials, the astrological changing of ages (from the age of Pisces, to the Age of Aquarius), the government altering of consciousness through secret experiments, Native American Prophesy fulfillment, the Second Coming of Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Captain Kirk, etc. etc. etc. etc.. Whatever the reason, it couldn't be denied - there was a new awareness of Life and Thought that was sweeping the planet and radically altering the thoughts and lives of an unsuspecting and grateful generation. Seeming to be centered in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco and spreading in rainbow colored waves, the Hippie phenomena turned into a global revolution of the Spirit, a mass rising of Consciousness and Sharing of the Truth. It was an Awareness that filled people with feelings of Love and Peace, Kinship and "Connectedness," with a newfound Thankfulness and Awe at this beautiful planet Earth they Found themselves on.

People that were deeply involved in the new evolution/revolution were given by society and the media the identifying (and they where pretty identifiable) label of "Hippies," a people, or tribe of people throughout the World, that suddenly "dropped out" from the current society, which caused the natural creation of a new and very colorful and powerful society of their own. Every Hippie felt a tribal closeness to one another, and homes were open to each other in Love, as sacraments were shared and feasts abounded. During those days, much Knowledge was spread and much Music was shared as the Hippies set about their quest to find "the Way" and Share their Lives, and with the strength that comes from being a part of a "People," and the Joy of being a part of a very special "Happening," the Hippie Revolution tumbled and flowed from people's hearts and souls, spreading like sonic ripples across the land, Awakening - Enlightening - and as Minds expanded, and Love abounded, the Hippie Revolution Rocked the Planet, and totally changed the world.

As change and transformation during those magical days took place on the inside, the effects of those changes could also be clearly seen on the outside, as many folks let their hair grow long, wore colorful, comfortable and unique clothing, and even traveled in a different style, with such charismatic rigs as painted trucks and busses, old Volkswagen bugs and vans, and assorted other cars that rattled and popped their way over highways and byways as Hippies far and wide took to the road to see the wonders of Nature, meet each other, and find their place on this great Earth. Some Hippies hitchhiked, carrying backpacks and signs, singly or in groups with sometimes a dog or two or occasional cat, kids or guitars as a transformed generation set out full of newfound wonder ready to experience their Planet and to Spread the Love .

As people began to see their relationship to the Earth and each other in a new way, a strong tribal unity developed which was amplified as Society and the Media set about to "squash the Revolution" and "do away with the Hippies." This tribal Consciousness filled people with a natural need and welcome desire to share and care for each other. From these feelings The Diggers were formed, with a "vision of society free from private property, and all forms of buying and selling." They were a true Blessing to many, as they fed their brothers and sisters by gathering donations, and making and distributing meals and clothing to many grateful Hippies. The Diggers were an energetic group. They spoke of Solidarity as they shared their Love. They still do.

The natural effect of the new Awareness was a heightened Earth Consciousness, and as Hippies began to feel the mystical connection of their very Beings as being intertwined and interdependent with that of the Planet, they began to be able to see their World as the enchanted land it is - a loving Mother Nature that nourished their very lives, and concern for the environment grew and information and "shining examples" of the new ways of living and thinking quickly spread. Ironically, the new way of living was in many cases a return to the old way of living, as people began to turn away from the high-voltage, high-powered tools and gadgets, poisons and medications of modern society, and to cherish the simple and natural, the homemade and homegrown.

Proof of the Revolution abounded. In 1968, the informative Whole Earth Catalog was born, a cherished publication that offered information on not only how to live Life more naturally, but held an extensive list of goods and services available with which to do so.

Another great source of Earthy information of the"Back to the Land Movement" of the day was Alicia Bay Laurel's " Living on the Earth." Written on Wheeler's open land ranch, It was a delightfully illustrated and in-depth how-to-survive in the country manual "for people who would rather chop wood than work behind a desk." The book was also a milestone marking the height of a Hippie way of living that was close to nature, with a focus on sustainable living and communal consciousness.

Word spread quickly around the world of the awakening awareness of the intense damage that had been done to this planet, whose natural resources had been depleted to a critical stage by the destructive forces of an ignorant and greedy society, and people began to come together and spread the news. The slogan "think globally, act locally" was a popular one during those days, and on March 21, 1970, the first Earth Day took place in San Francisco. It was soon celebrated across the planet by over 20 million individuals, including students from 1,500 Universities. Getting more popular and with more impact each year, it brings Fun and Environmental Enlightenment while renewing our awareness of and our relationship with our precious "Mother Earth."

A book that gained popularity at the time and was, as the book itself suggested, passed from hand to hand to alert people to the worldwide danger of nuclear weapons, was "The Hundredth Monkey," written by Ken Keyes Jr. A quote:

"Since the future of both you and your family is at stake, turn on the immense resources of your mind. Find the ways in which you can flow your energy into increasing worldwide awareness that the nuclear bomb mentality must be eliminated. We are the bearers of a new vision. We can dispel the old destructive myths and replace them with the life-enriching truths that are essential to continued life on our planet. "


As people began looking for ways to become involved and help "Save the Earth," membership in such groups as the Sierra Club climbed, as people joined in the hopes of helping the plight of the World through direct action. In 1971 the organization Greenpeace was formed, to help put an end to nuclear testing and to help bring "Green Consciousness" to the Planet. Many Hippies began reading of the wonders of nature from the viewpoint of the renowned California naturalist John Muir, and Thoreau's Walden Pond gained a newfound following.

With the regained interest in nature there also arose a new respect for native cultures, whose ideals and ceremonies stirred the hearts of many as could be seen in the Hippie's Love for feathers, beads, sweats, tee pees, bones, drums and visions. At one point, during the years 1969-1971 Native American activists occupied Alcatraz Island, the famous San Francisco prison known as "the Rock" to "reclaim the island for the Indians." It was quite a powerful statement. Native American books were read and shared as Hippies felt a special kinship to a people that lived with such Consciousness of Earth and Spirit. One Native American book that enlightened many a Seeking Hippie during the time, which can be read here online, is Black Elk Speaks.

During the days of the New Awareness many members of the Hippie Tribe and others started changing their diets, and turning away from the meat, potatoes, white sugar, white flour, and canned food staples of the typical American diet. The knowledge that food was not only important in Healing and Well-Being, but also as Spiritual fuel, created an awareness of the body being the "temple of the soul," as well as a respect for food as being a direct product and gift of nourishing "Mother Earth." The phrase "you are what you eat" became popular, and while some began raising their own livestock for meat, dairy and clothing, many became Vegetarians and Vegans, and a new interest in organic, home-grown foods and healing herbs arose.

Books on diet and healing abounded, such as Jethro Kloss' herbal Back to Eden and Frances Moore Lapp�'s "Diet for a Small Planet," which showed how meat eating was inefficient from an energy point of view. As the book stated, "Livestock eat over 80% of the grain eaten in the U.S. If Americans cut their meat consumption by just 10%, there would be enough grain to feed all the starving people in the world."

In 1962 Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" was serialized in the New Yorker magazine (and later published as a book). Most Hippies were aghast at how much poisonous pesticides were being dumped on our food crops, adding to the many reasons for people not only to protest the insanity, but to eat organically.

The popular book by Euell Gibbons on how to find and prepare wild edibles, "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" was studied and discussed, and many a times Hippie meals were comprised of such things as Miner's Lettuce, Dandelion Greens, fresh Watercress or assorted mushrooms. Herbs were also treasured by most Hippies as smokeable Bliss as Marijuana and Hash smoke drifted hazily through the years.

Many Hippies also found interest in the Eastern Diet of Macrobiotics, which included eating with a reverence for food and an awareness of the balance of the Yin and Yang. Two of the more famous and loved Macrobiotic authors at the time were Michio Kushi and his friend and colleague George Ohsawa.

Health food stores and restaurants opened near and far, and many a home-cooked meal was not complete without brown rice, whole grains, and fresh vegetables. The Moosewood Cookbook , from the famous Moosewood Restaurant and the Tassajara Bread Book were some of the manuals found and revered in many a hippie kitchen, as people learned about and delighted in a new way of preparing food with healthy, natural ingredients. It was in 1969 that the well known Celestial Seasonings company first got it's start, with a small group of hippies happily gathering and packaging herb teas for local health food stores.

As people began to take a really good look at the way the Earth around them was being treated, most hippies were upset at the reality of the destruction of the rainforests and rampant extinctions of whole species of living things. Many cried out in horror and anger, sadness and disbelief as old growth redwoods were being destroyed, and forests far and wide were being leveled through the practice of clear-cutting, primarily to get materials for sprawling suburban homes which were being built without environmental concerns. Alternative forms of housing became popular, and it wasn't long before it was common to hear of Hippies living in such structures as home-made cabins, teepees, domes, yurts, and even converted vehicles.

The call for a natural way of doing things also resulted in many Hippie children being born outside the rules of the structured, doctored world of the hospitals. Instead, women were having more drug-free natural births, and home births, sometimes accompanied by warm audiences of family and friends, as midwifery schools and training were set up to assist the assisters. Women became empowered in childbirth and learned to alter the experience of hospitalized trauma and pain through such things as breathing exercises, yoga and herbs.

Today the children born then are grown and are adults of this world. Their lives, and the lives of the entire Planet were altered and transformed by the impact of the Hippie Way in those Earth Conscious days, and though there is no one explanation for the reasons for the Happening, one thing's for sure, no one can deny or ignore the fact that those days existed and that they were, beyond a doubt, incredibly Magical and very, very "Groovy" days. What a Divine Gift.

An Afterthought ~

Though the 60's were begun with a psychedelic revolution, an "opening of the mind to the wonder of it All" with a basic move "back to nature," things took an outwardly downward spiral as "the establishment" tried to put an end to the Hippie Lifestyle. Much of the freedoms, through such means as enforcing building code violations, limiting camping and cracking down on "hitchhikers" made it harder for hippies to thrive, as many got lost in other "highs" or the dramas they produced, such as hard drugs, alcohol, and the lure of material success. The revolution had gotten sidetracked.

Or so it seemed.

As we look at the world today, we can see organizations and individuals continuing to live "the Dream." And we can see all around us a resurgence of the spirit of the 60's . It's again become "hip" to be "hip" ~ and the thoughts and ideals that comprised "the days" are coming back in style. The spirit never left. It's been alive and well and growing all the time.

The Revolution once stopped a War.

Now it's saving a Planet

......and the Beat goes On..... !

Why is it called The Farm
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