The Farm Then and Now, A Model for Sustainable Living


The Farm Then and Now presents the story of a group that has defied the odds, blending idealism with a practical approach to intentional community and creating a model for sustainable living. Just as the Summer of Love opened their hearts and minds, The Farm continues as a school of change, demonstrating ways to operate collectively in terms of:

  • Community government, Resolving differences and disputes
  • Land stewardship and management
  • Health care, building and infrastructure
  • Cooperation, compassion and spiritual values.

For humans to survive as a species, we must re-learn the skills needed to work together; the lessons of The Farm can be applied in any community or organization. The Farm Then and Now addresses both the successes and shortcomings of this unique ongoing social experiment, showing how what was once the largest commune in the world has evolved into an exceptional example of living lightly on the earth.

In my book, "The Farm Then and Now, A Model for Sustainability," I examine the building blocks of community. It is my hope that people young and old will be inspired to follow their dreams and maximize their potential, using community as the catalyst and a way to leverage their efforts.

For my second book, "Out To Change the World, The Evolution of The Farm Community" I have tried to tell our story and history as accurately as possible to the best of my knowledge. I came to The Farm to be a part of something bigger than myself, to follow a spiritual path, to make a difference in the world.
Community has given me a very full life. I am honored to share The Farm's story...and my story, with you.

To learn more, please visit:

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Table of Contents

Excerpt: Living Green



Chapter 1 : Governance

Chapter 2: Earning a Living

Chapter 3: Health Care Taking Care of Each Other

Chapter 4: Health and Diet

Chapter 5: Housing and Construction

Chapter 6: Membership

Chapter 7: Community, Conflict and Compassion

Chapter 8: Tribal Cultures

Chapter 9: Following the Spiritual Path

Chapter 10: Ecovillages and Permaculture

Chapter 11: The Future Farm


Living Green – Permaculture and Ecovillages

Two words have come to represent the combined concepts of sustainability, human settlement and our relation to the earth: permaculture and ecovillages. More than a collection of ideas, both words have developed criteria that can be identified to measure how a community such as The Farm fulfills the standards embodied by these two terms.
Permaculture takes in design and planning that includes architectural engineering, food production, and structural organization modeled after natural ecosystems. Just as nature is able to continue in a revolving cycle of renewal, by emulating these patterns, new models of sustainability can be developed which emphasize the undeniable relationship between a healthy planet and healthy human existence.

Because The Farm was established decades before the term permaculture was created, its alignment with the outlook of permaculture was not the result of conscious planning, but came from an intuitive understanding of natural order. At the same time, members of the community were among the first to adopt the Permaculture school of thought, holding courses and offering internationally recognized certification in permaculture design.

Individual homesteads, neighborhoods and entire communities can benefit from the permaculture template. In this way The Farm makes an ideal subject that can be studied to examine ways in which it represents the design elements of permaculture, and areas where more could be done.

The Ecovillage Model

The word “ecovillage” implies a bond between people and nature, comprehending the unquestionable link between human settlements and the environment around them, going further to include the many layers of human relations. If anything, it is the disconnect from the natural world inherent in urban development that perpetuates the illusion that we are separate, isolated, and bear no responsibility to future generations. If we are to turn this spaceship earth in a new trajectory, the inspiration will come not from corporations or governments or begin on a grand scale, but will be found in the myriad of experiments in community pointing the way.  Ecovillages are like rhinestones, tiny jewels scattered across the wider fabric of society, reflecting back the light, catching our attention, a reminder that answers are often to be found in the smallest of things.

In addition to “ecology,” the “eco” in Ecovillage represents “ecological.” The purpose of an eco-village is to be a model of sustainable living, a way of life that is able to continue into the indefinite future because it fulfills the needs of the people who live there in a way that preserves, protects and even enhances its environment.


Douglas Stevenson
President, Village Media Services
Green Life Retreats / Farm Catalog
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