||A- Most of the early settlers of The Farm arrived with only the clothes on their backs and a pocketful of dreams. Many life savings had been spent to get to Tennessee, find and acquire the land, and make the first land payment. Racially, religiously and ethnically diverse and spanning as much as 90 years of age, the original group of 320 were occasionally harassed by racially intolerant neighbors and the clandestine infiltration of state and federal law enforcement authorities.
Guided by ecumenical spirituality and an abiding sense of the utmost importance in their mission (the slogan on the lead bus of the caravan into the land was “Out to Save the World), the group persevered through its adversities. The first winter was marked by an outbreak of infectious hepatitis from a polluted stream. The second–known as “wheat berry winter”–is remembered as near-famine.
But within 4 years The Farm had gained self sufficiency in food production and established a construction company with more than 80 skilled craftsmen. The Farm built schools, greenhouses, dry goods and grocery stores, and automotive, welding, woodworking and machine shops. It established child nutrition and sanitation standards, fire codes, and electrical, heating, lighting, and housing safety standards.
Within 5 years it had founded a clinic, laboratory, dispensary, neo-natal ICU, and infirmary with more than 60 community medical personnel and wide range of innovative programs in preventive medicine, serving not only The Farm, but the medically underserved area out to a 20 mile radius.
The midwifery program, born in 1971, has delivered more than 2000 babies with outcome statistics vastly better than hospitals (Caesarean rates are only 1.8% versus 20% or higher for hospital delivery). In large measure this is due to a comprehensive, family-based support program in prenatal and postnatal education, nutrition, and care. And because of early support and intervention for individual family problems, there is no poverty, little domestic violence, and virtually no crime within the community.
Establishing a close working group with a good sense of fair process, acquiring land, incorporating and writing bylaws, and creating a means of support are less difficult than finding a common vision that will carry you over obstacles. No one can predict what those obstacles will be, only that they will be there. Our “glue” is our shared determination to make a difference in the future of our tiny blue home in space