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Independence Farm

by Kirby Mason
Category
Community Forming
Location
Central Arkansas, United States
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We are looking for like-minded folks who are interested in forming a new intentional community for permaculture and related community-based activities. We are in the early stages of planning, and below you can find the basics of what we are looking to do though they most likely will evolve some as we go along.

Location: Central Arkansas – the area of the Arkansas river valley south from the Ozark National Forest to the north side of the Ouachita National Forest and between Ft. Smith in the west and Little Rock in the east. Ideally it will be somewhat near an urban center to take advantage of existing services such as internet, electricity and water. In the future though, we’d like to be able to produce our own electricity and water.

Size & Population: To start, we’re thinking of 20-50 acres and maybe 10-20 people but this could vary up or down.

Goal: To form a community of people that can take care of most of the needs of its members in as sustainable, self-sufficient and natural a way as possible. We, as the community, will provide to members: acceptance, belonging, housing, food, opportunities to live, grow and develop in a healthy farming environment, education or help in accessing education, freedom of choice and lifestyle while still offering meaningful service to our community, and probably many more things essential to healthy living that modern society fails to provide.

Membership and organization: We want to keep things as simple as possible while still maintaining flexibility and order. At present we are looking into forming a 501(c)(5) non-profit or an LLC, but other options may turn out to be better. Our goal is that the community is truly that, a community of equals without hierarchical organization or bureaucracy or formalized power structures – more like a collection of families who together form an extended family of community. Therefore we are looking for people who can make an investment of approximately $5,000-10,000 towards the purchase of land and necessary equipment and materials to establish “the farm.” Regardless of the form the group takes from a “legal standpoint,” all adult members will share equal standing in decision making and ownership. We’re thinking the total start-up cost might be $100,000-$200,000.

Mindset: All people from all walks of life are welcome without discrimination or judgment. However, we are NOT open to extreme views that throw life out of balance including the following: racism, gun culture, drug use, religious zealotry, exploitative or narcissistic beliefs and behavior and other stuff that makes people want to say, “Chill out.” If you can simply live a reasonably healthy lifestyle, accept others for who they are and the choices they make for themselves and generally tolerate and get along with others while making a regular and positive contribution to the community and the necessary work on the farm, then you’re in! One example might be that you are a Buddhist but while you certainly are free to talk openly about your faith, you do not try to impress it upon others who are not open to it, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, you do not hold others in contempt or deem them to be less valuable because their beliefs differ from yours. Another example might be that you come from a background as a systems analyst or some occupation where material efficiency is tantamount and while it may bother you that things on the farm are not done in the best possible and most efficient way, you put more value on humanity and community and social harmony than on achieving quantifiable results so that you temper your remarks and expectations and work with others as they are, realizing that sometimes the value of healthy living choices are not always in line with the value of ruthlessly pursued material efficiency.

 

Benefits and features of our “Dream Community”

Community: Modern society has left so many people isolated from community, from a sense of shared belonging and identity, taking a heavy toll on the people physically, mentally and spiritually. We would like to reverse this process through establishing a community of people who, quite simply, see each other as a unified group composed of many parts instead of as random, separate and even disposable individuals. The goal of our community will always be to nurture each other, and never to dispose of any member. Tangible benefits of community include: shared meals, communal space to enjoy leisure activities (crafts, projects, movies, games, stories, art, music and all manner of experiences), shared responsibilities, shared expenses and the peace and confidence that comes from knowing you’re not alone.

Little or no housing costs: Ideally, we hope to have enough group founders to acquire a farm and sufficient housing without having to get a mortgage.

Lower cost of living: In addition to using natural and environmentally sustainable farming practices, the group structure should also produce less waste and cost less for products we buy from outside the community.

Community & Privacy balance: A possible housing arrangement would be a central community space with large and comfortable kitchen, living, dining and socializing areas (the lodge), and individual family dwellings (the cabins) around the center spaced enough to give privacy and a sense of individuality. The lodge would also have internet and a library and other amenities that the community wished to develop. Community meals would be prepared in the lodge, but individual meals could also be prepared in the cabins. Members would have the freedom to choose when and how they participated in the community. Unlike the “community space” at corporate apartments, the members here will actually be a small group who live and work together on the farm, not a collection of hundreds of strangers who merely compete for parking spaces.

Better diet: of course the food grown on the farm will be organic, fresher and better quality than anything at the supermarket, but also, the larger group meals will be naturally more balanced and healthy.

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