The Farm Community in Summertown, Tennessee

Summertown, Tennessee, United States

  • Last updated: January 28, 2016 (1 year ago)
  • Listing created on: December 31, 1999

Mission Statement

Sustainable Living, Spirituality & Social Change

Community Description

The Farm is an intentional community of families and friends living on 1,750 acres in south-central Tennessee. Since its inception in 1971, the purpose of The Farm community has been to provide a secure, ecologically healthy, commonly held land base for its members and succeeding generations. It is a place where we can relate to each other and the natural environment in a sustainable way, draw upon the collective strength of the community, and contribute to the positive transformation of the world.

The Farm is a spiritual community but follows no specific doctrine. Founded on the principles of nonviolence and respect for the earth, there is general agreement that all world religions share essential truths that are the moral guideposts for sanity and happiness.

Over its 40+ year history, The Farm community has established numerous nonprofit organizations as part of its mission to create positive change in the world. These include Plenty International (international relief and development), Kids To the Country (brings at-risk children to The Farm), The Ecovillage Training Center (sustainability education), Swan Conservation Trust (1425-acre nature preserve), PeaceRoots Alliance (global peace movement), and More Than Warmth (students creating peace quilts sent to children around the world), and many more. The Farm is probably best known for its midwifery program in which the sacrament of birth is considered as an inherent right of all women, newborns, and families. Both basic and advanced midwifery workshops take place throughout the year.

Approximately 200 residents and over 20 Farm businesses contribute to the maintenance and operation of the community. The community is managed by an elected board of directors along with a variety of committees staffed by volunteers. The Farm Education/Conference Center hosts conferences and is the umbrella organization for the Farm School, which offers alternative education to both resident and neighboring school-age students. GreenLife Retreats is the host of The Farm Experience Weekend and a variety of other events and activities that give visitors a more in depth way to learn about community life.


  • Type(s): Spiritual or Religious Community
  • Programs & Activities: School, Educational Institute or Experience, Volunteer, Internship, or Apprenticeship, Organization, Resource, or Network, Festivals, Conferences, Events
  • Location: Rural


  • Status: We have land we have developed on
  • Area: 1750 acres
  • Current Residence Types: Single-family homes, Multi-family homes, Tiny house, Mobile homes, RV’s, converted buses, Natural built structues, Lots to build on
  • Current Number of Residences: 85
  • Housing Provided: Purchase, Rental
  • Land owned by: Independent land trust (not controlled by the community)
  • Additional Comments:

    Several residences utilize a co-housing model


  • Adult Members: 180
  • Child Members: 30
  • Non-member Residents: 35
  • Percent Women: 51-60%
  • Percent Men: 41-49%
  • Percent Transgender: 1-10%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    We welcome scheduled visits and tours. Please write or call. The community is actively seeking new members and residents. Check us out! The best way to visit is to participate in one of our Farm Experience Weekends and other events by GreenLife Retreats, which include a history slide show, tour, community work project, workshops, and entertainment.

  • Open to new Members: Yes
  • Membership Process:

    Visit often – Live in the community as an extended visitor – Live in the community as a Resident, usually for a minimum of 1 year. Live in the community as a Provisional Member for a second year. Voted in by 2/3 of the community as a Full Member. Pay $3000 membership fee to become a Permanent Member.

  • Additional Comments:

    Broad agreements but no single spiritual doctrine. Open to all religions and practices.

    Hippie Zen Buddhism

    Parents pay an annual fee per student to attend The Farm School. Work/teaching exchange is also utilized in lieu of payment.


  • Decision Making: Voting (majority or super-majority rule)
  • Identified Leader: No
  • Leadership Core Group: Yes
  • Additional Comments:

    The majority of residents have lived in the community 20+ years. However new residents are able and are encouraged to participate equally.

    We use consensus whenever possible, especially in smaller committees.


  • Join Fee: $3000
  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: Yes
  • Regular Fee per Month: $110
  • Shared Income: None
  • Required Labor Contribution: No
  • Additional Comments:

    The 1750 acre property is owned collectively a Trust to benefit the community members. The community has an extensive infrastructure that is maintained and operated through monthly member dues. All buildings and residences are owned by the Trust, but members generate equity in their homes through personal investment.

    All membership applications include a financial review.

    Participation in community projects and events is very encouraged.

    $3,000 per adult is requested after a an approximately 2 year provisonal membership period

    Members and residents contribute monthly an amount ranging from $85to $125 per person

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We use both systems.
  • Current renewable energy generation: Up to 25%
  • Energy sources: Solar, Clean Energy from the Grid
  • Current food produced: Up to 25%
  • Planned food produced: From 50-75%
  • Food produced locally: Between 26-49%


  • Common Facilities: Common House, Garden(s), Workshop, Outbuilding(s), Swimming pond or pool, Large Scale Kitchen, Tractor & Farm Equipment, Stage or Auditorium, Fire pit, Swingsets & play areas
  • Internet Available: Yes, individuals provide it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, it’s fine.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for most people.
  • Shared meals: 1-3 times per month
  • Dietary Practice: Omnivorous (plants and animals), Paleo (no grains, dairy, processed foods, or legumes), Local (food sourced within 150 miles), Organic (no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers), GMO Free (only non-genetically modified organisms), Vegetarian Only (no animal meat; dairy and eggs okay) – Please check this only if you are 100% Vegetarian, Mostly Vegetarian, Mostly Vegan, Raw or Mostly Raw, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: No – people may eat however they wish.
  • Special Diets OK: Sometimes
  • Alcohol Use: Yes, used occasionally.
  • Tobacco Use: Yes, used seldomly, or ceremoniously.
  • Additional Diet Comments:

    Meals are prepared during the school year by students and parents as a fundraiser for the school or other nonprofits.

    The community tries to avoid rules and restrictions.

    The community was founded on a .vegan diet and many members are currently vegetarian or vegan. No animals may be raised for slaughter on the property.

    Tobacco and alcohol is up to personal choice but abuse is discouraged.

    The community avoids the impositions of rules, however tobacco use is considered unhealthy and was prohibited in the early years.

  • Common Spiritual Practice(s): Ecumenical (accepts all religions or spiritual practices), Eclectic (integrates multiple religious or spiritual beliefs), Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Wiccan, Quaker, Sufi, Native American, Paganism or Earth Religions, Mixed Eastern Philosophy or Practice, Agnostic
  • Education Style(s): Home Schooling, Private Schooling at the Community, Public Schooling, Up to each family or individual
  • Healthcare Options: Up to each family or individual

Photo Gallery

Video Gallery

Community Network or Organization Affiliations

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), Ecovillage Network of the Americas, Global Ecovillage Network – North America (GENNA)

Fair Housing Laws

This community acknowledges that their listing does not include any potential violations of the Fair Housing Law, or that they do not provide housing. For any questions about this topic please see our Content Policies and contact FIC with any questions or concerns: [email protected].


hippie, midwifery, Ecovillage, solar, retreats, workshops, Stephen Gaskin, Ina May Gaskin