Journey to The Farm
Took the above picture off the side of a semi trailer.
I know where Hippie Heaven is. In a remote area of south Tennessee, not far from Pulaski, Tennessee, the birth place of the Klu Klux Klan, in what I've heard is one of the poorest counties in Tennessee, which is probably one of the most unlikely places in the country sits The Farm. On 1750 acres of rolling hills is a commune started in 1971 and still thriving today. In 1971 the residents of the small country town of Summertown were very unsure of the long haired hippies arriving in buses. Today the two seem to be a part of each other.
Leaving Summertown you quickly arrive at the gate of The Farm. First thing I noticed was young people dressed in tie dyes and peasant dresses. I was immediately welcomed and after giving a little information was sent on my way to find my friend I would be staying with. It was like driving out of 1998 and into 1968. I was greeted with smiles and waves from everyone I saw. The land was beautiful. I drove past an apple orchard, grape vines and a horse peacefully grazing in a field. There were brightly colored buildings, barns and silos. At the little cabin I would be staying in I was greeted by birds singing. I was in Heaven.
The crowd for Unity Fest was diminished by the rain but it didn't dampen the spirit of the festival. It was organized by the youth of The Farm and they did a wonderful job. As you enter the area where the festival is held there are tents in fields and all through the surrounding woods. People wandered around greeting each other. I shared three days of good music and joy. There were vendors selling many handmade crafts and excellent vegetarian food. I met the founder Stephen Gaskin, his wife Ina May and others that were part of the original group. It was the young people that impressed me the most. Bright eyed and full of joy, the most common greetings I saw were hugs, Lots of smiles and laughter. And the dancing. I haven't seen it like that in a long time. Large numbers of people not dancing with anyone but somehow seeming to dance with everyone.
The Farm now contains many enterprising businesses. They have a Book Publishing Company, and a Soy Dairy where they produce soybean milk products. Icebean is an amazing non-dairy ice cream and was developed on the Farm. There's a company that produces radiation detection devices and another that grows shiitake mushrooms. There is a clinic and Ina May is one of the top midwifes in the country, teaching others from all over the world. They have a large school powered by solar energy and the Ecovillage teachers others to use solar power, build alternative housing and organic gardening. Vegetarian food products are produced and sold through The Mail Order catalog. There are also a number of charity organizations.
If you ever get the chance to visit you will be welcomed. Just call ahead and let them know you're coming. Be sure to go to The Store and have a gluten barbeque sandwich. You can buy tie dye shirts, food products or just visit. There is a book you can order called A Short History of the Farm that I highly recommend if you would like to know more about the Farm. Even the few short days I spent there left me with a peaceful inner feeling. It's still here and I believe every time I think about the Farm in the future the feeling will return. I will return to the Farm as often as I can. There are other festivals you can go to like Harvest Fest, Labor Day Weekend in September and you can visit even when there is no festival. If you're ever anywhere even close to Tennessee you should visit.
I have to say I had trouble leaving. I lingered longer than I planned and even as I drove through the gate I stopped. Then I slowly drove away, looking in my rearview mirror. It was hard leaving that day. Twenty-five years ago it would have been impossible.
Pictures I took at The Farm
The Farm Store The store is the center of the community.
Solar School This is their solar powered school. The solar panels are on the back of the slanted roof.
Old Bus When they first moved to The Farm most people lived in a bus. Some of the originals are still there.
Barn Many buildings are brightly painted by The Farm youth.
Wall Painting Any unpainted wall is like an empty canvas.
Silos More youth painting.
Ecovillage This is the main building at the Ecovillage. Notice the solar heaters on the roof.
Solar Showers These are at Ecovillage.
Straw House This a work in progress. You can see how they are building a house made out of straw at Ecovillage.
Created by The Old Hippie April 25, 1998
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