What’s Happening with those Beatniks in Summertown?
ITS BEEN OVER SIX MONTHS now since our arrival in Southern Middle Tennessee and it feels to us like it’s time to introduce ourselves more completely. We like it here a lot and we’re thankful to be so warmly received. We also realize that we’re a large and rather unusual group and that there are many questions that we could answer. In order to answer some of those questions we have taken this page in this newspaper to inform you of our intentions and progress and to describe the nature of our community.
FOUR HUNDRED OF US, including our children, live on The Farm. One Sunday morning in San Francisco last February Stephen said. “Let‘s go to Tennessee.” and we all thought it was a good idea. For five years before that Stephen had been teaching a weekly class where people came together to hear and speak the truth. We learned that that was how you held communion. and we became a Church.
Most of us had originally come to San Francisco from all parts of the country and the world because we‘d heard that religion was being revived there. Stephen’s Monday Night Class and Sunday Morning Service were at the center of that spiritual awakening. A community evolved over the years, until last year we left San Francisco in a
caravan of remodeled schoolbuses and trucks to follow Stephen on a tour of speaking engagements at colleges and churches around the country. After twelve thousand miles and four months on the road, we returned to California, only to decide after a week that all of us who had been living and traveling together wanted to go on living together on a farm, and Tennessee had been a place where we had felt welcomed by the people and the land.
EVERYONE who lives on The Farm follows Stephen as his or her personal spiritual teacher and values his counsel on how to change. Stephen believes that all men are capable of change. and he teaches them how to improve their lives by being peaceful and honest. Living with him requires a willingness to have not just your outward actions but your innermost thoughts always illuminated by the clear light of spiritual purity. It works out that The Farm is a non-
denominational family monastery with Stephen as the head of the household.
GOOD HEALTH is important to us at The Farm. From among our we have evolved a medical staff which administers first aid and dispenses medical supplies. If a member of The Farm becomes ill or is injured he can go to the medical staff for immediate diagnosis and treatment. If necessary the patient is sent to town to see the doctor. We like to be self-sufficient but we also appreciate the cooperation of the County and State Health Department. Our nurse gives all of our children their childhood inoculations.
“…We did a whole bunch of this stuff on purpose, set out to do a thing and do it right and all that. And it’s still happening, and what we’re doing is we’re making the assumption that people everywhere like the same things, that we all really are all one, and that nobody’s such a stranger that he’s going to have radically different ideas of what he likes. So we’re saying that most people are going to like the same kind of things we like, and what do we like? Peace?
and quiet, something to do that means something, a chance to grow, a chance to do something.”
— Stephen .
Monday Night Class ”
18’ October 1971
THERE ARE EIGHTY-TWO MARRIED COUPLES living in the community. Our Church is recognized by the State of Tennessee and Stephen performs the sacrament of holy matrimony. He has married forty-six couples since June, with marriage licenses and certificates issued by Lewis County. “You can look in books on how to carpenter or old-fashioned books about how to weld by hand with a hammer, and you can find a usage of the word marry, and it means to take two things and put them together so that they be one thing. It means Union. Union is one.” (Stephen — Sunday Morning Service, June, 1971
Our marriages are lifetime commitments and married couples are faithful to each other and raise their children together.
WE HAVE A SPIRITUAL AGREEMENT to keep peace-With the animals, so we don’t eat meat. “Somebody with’a Bachelor’s in chemistry and a doctorate in biology is helping us work out our diet. We’re complete Vegetarians. No cattle, all we have is the horses to work. But we don’t use any animal foods at all, even dairy products. Because we should be able to make it on our own life force. Like that cow, can make it on alfalfa. We ought to be able to make it on vegetation too, not necessarily alfalfa either, a rich and a varied and a balanced diet.” (Stephen — WGTV, Athens, Georgia, 15 November 1971) A typical meal for us: black-eyed peas and cornbread, collard greens, sweet potatoes, mint tea and sorghum cookies.
THERE ARE SEVENTY-FIVE KITCHENS on The Farm including our School cafeteria and the community kitchen,’Which feeds about forty people three meals a day. Each Of these kitchens gets all its food from our store. Much of our food is purchased in quantity from local wholesale grocers and farmers. Sometimes we send a truck out with some pickers. We worked for wheat in Kansas, picked apples in Michigan, pecans in Georgia, and peppers in Lewis County. We’ve also harvested several crops of vegetables from our gardens. Some of our ladies have been canning and dehydrating fruits and vegetables for the winter store.
ONE OF SEVEN HOUSES UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Foundations for eight more are started. The design we’ve chosen for our first houses is the Dutch frame, with added dormers to make the designs more flexible for larger families. We’re using local materials like stone and rough-cut oak and poplar. Some of our men are working at nearby sawmills in exchange for lumber. The rest of our lumber and hardware is purchased from local suppliers. The roof, wall and floor joists are pre-cut for each house by a crew using power tools and assembled at the site by a carpentry crew. The foundations consists of stone and unhewn logs or railroad ties set in concrete. Plywood and roll roofing form a structurally rigid weather seal, and a Nashville plastics firm gives us its rejects of styrofoam, which provides noble insulation. When we get caught up with our housing we’ll build a church.
THE SCHOOL has seventy-two students ranging from kindergarten to the tenth grade. There are six accredited teachers, a principal, and teachers for the specialty subjects – art and music. The school meets five days a week with regular school hours. Each day begins with a half-hour meditation and physical exercises. We use the required state texts for reading, mathematics, science, health, biology, American and Tennessee social studies.
Square Dancing – We don’t go for the kind of entertainment where you just sit down and be entertained, but we like to get together now and then for music and sometimes square dancing.
WE’RE WORKING OUT A TECHNOLOGY as we go along. None of us ever tried to build a town before. It’s keeping us busy. If we decide we need something, the first thing we do is see if anybody might have one under their bed or somewhere. If not, we want to know if we can get it used or possibly make it. We’ve got a heavy-duty old 1946 Diamond “T” that used to be a lumber truck. it cost a dollar from the company. We’ve used it to haul from as far away as New Orleans. We cut a bus off to just below the windows and made a giant pick-up truck out of it. Then there’s the jeep, a big four-wheel drive International that was Used by a Hollywood studio in army movies. That’s some of our motor pool.
FARMING — Although we’d been saying tor a long time, “As you sow, so shall you reap,” we found out when we got our piece of dirt that none of us had ever really farmed before.
Our aim is to grow as much of the food we consume as we can. In the time from our arrival to now we have brought under cultivation nearly one hundred acres. We’ve purchased two old tractors, rebuilt one, got a hold of a bush and bog, a two-row planter, a transplanter and cultivator. We’re trying to build and improve our soil. Sorghum pumice is returned to the field in the form of sheet compost. Our late cane fields are covered with winter legume.
When we first got into farming we thought we might like to try to do it all with horses and hoes. We soon found out that for a community of our size that would mean about a horse per family to do the lob. So right now we’ve got two Belgian mares and two tractors and we’re buying another tractor. We have electricity in the schoolhouse and office and other places of work like the barn and the mill, but we light our homes with kerosene lamps and cook with propane. We still take our laundry to town, but we’re building a laundromat where we’ll have electric wringer type washers.
Quarterly Financial Report for the months of Aug, Sept. & Oct. 1971
Balance brought forward from previous quarter (inheritances, savings. etc.) $53,500.00
Investments (inheritances, sale 5 of stocks & property, savings, etc.) $20,424.42
Book sales (Monday Night Class) $7,871.48
Hay bailing 578.75
Pepper picking 1660.00
Apple picking 1974.40
Total: 4213.15 4213.15
Hay sales 107.00
Loan for bail 15,000.00
The Book Publishing Company
Photographic Supplies 377.10
Tape recording 64.51
Book distribution 132.79
Total 975.95 $975.95
Community kitchen $85.50
Tools & tractor 995.41
Lady bugs 24.00
3 acres of sorghum cane 75.00
Total 2071.18 $2071.18
Adobe apartment building 125.00
Bath house 1537.66
Community kitchen 320.37
Dutch-frame housing 2111.05
Road & gate 711.26
Sorghum mill 3581.09
Store building 155.18
Misc. const. & hardware 551.80
Total 9617.44 $ 9617.44
Medical expenses 3991.12
Vehicle registration 319.67
Post office 404.86
Trash & Compost 10.00
Total 2590. 76 $2590. 76
Total 10,274.42 $10,274.42
School cafeteria 40.00
Total 434.86 $434.86
Sorghum operation 3121.00
Canning & dehydrating 244.22
Army auctions 281.00
The Foundation Expenses
Bail money 20,000.00
Office supplies 150.00
Total 20,150.00 $20,150.00
Farm Payments 38,086.32
Registration of deed 197.10
Marriage licenses 384.00
Drivers licenses 400.00
Telephone calls 180.00
Personal gear 600.00
Total 1564.00 $1564.00
Tomatoes 5300 lbs.
Sweet Potatoes 4100 lbs.
Cucumbers 3300 lbs.
Turnips & greens 2400 lbs.
Okra l900 lbs.
Beets & greens l250 lbs.
Winter squash l200 lbs.
Green peppers l050 lbs.
Summer spinach 590 lbs.
Summer squash 770 lbs.
Cabbages 840 lbs.
Collards 400 lbs.
Canteloupes 380 lbs.
Dry peas 360 lbs.
Mustard greens 300 lbs.
Lima beans 100 lbs.
Green beans 40 lbs.
Kohlrabi 40 lbs.
Lettuce 40 lbs.
Sweet corn 2300 ears
Sorghum cane 500 gal. finished syrup
Field corn shelled 300 bshl
(est. in 6-acre field)
Crops Still Growing
Winter garden: 2 acres
Cover crops 11 acres
The Farm Report – Page Two – June 1972
HERE ON THE FARM we’ve marked the first anniversary of our residence in Lewis County. We’d like to say again how grateful and happy we are to be here. It really feels like a home. We’ve been getting to know more of the neighbors who, by the way, are always welcome to come over and visit and take a tour. We had the ministers and twenty or so members of some of the local Churches of Christ out for six straight Sunday afternoons and Monday nights and we had some lively discussions about everything from diet to religion. We wanted to say more in this Report about what kind of a Church we are, because that’s the first thing we are is a Church, a Spiritual Community. So we took some quotes of things Stephen has said at Farm meetings and meetings in various cities around the country where he has spoken since our last Farm Report. The financial statement covers two quarters and shows that our spending is holding a steady course – consistently outrageous. It works out to about $30.00 per person each
month, but that includes a lot of large initial expenditures for the books and records we’re making. Next up is another nationwide tour — Stephen with The Farm Band.
Our population is now 500 people with over 200 married couples and 115 children, including 48 born since we’ve been in the county.
The basis of our church is soul communication. We believe that to pray means to communicate with. You can pray with your fellow man, or you can pray to God. It’s to communicate by soul communication from heart to heart, without having to speak. We believe in that really a lot. In fact, the reason we are so gathered on this farm is not because of anything that anybody ever said aloud as a reason for us to be together but an agreement that we have come to somewhere beyond speech, somewhere past speech.
“I feel that every religion has to perform for its people the same act of making the connection for them to the Inﬁnite,
to God. And that everybody’s religion that performs that for them is a true religion. And I feel that there is only one real religion, as yet unwritten. All attempts at religion are attempts to bring that one true religion into man’s understanding. But that all people everywhere, whatever language, whatever time, hundreds of thousands of years ago or now or in the future, will have to make their peace with God and the way they do it will have to be the same because people, whatever kind they are, are pretty much the same. And I feel that the world has become a village. And that we can’t say that the people on the other side of the village don’t know where it’s at. And that we have to recognize that all mankind should be saved. And that there shouldn’t be any artificial stumbling blocks in the way, that salvation is dictated by compassion, and compassion puts no riddles in the way of salvation.”
We found through our collective experience that there were levels of experience that man is heir to, that man is supposed to be able to experience, and that these are Spiritual things, and that in times when there’s a lot of material success in the world, a lot of materialism afoot that folks sometimes forget to tune into those finer things and that they sometimes lose the knack, maybe for generations at a time. And whenever it comes back, it’s always a big flash.
Those of us who have parents of different faiths, we try to make ourselves be so that nobody has to break his father’s laws. We don’t want to injure anyone’s faith. We respect all faiths. We know that if people have something that works for them that it’s a holy thing.
The foundation ad floor are complete for the new community kitchen and meeting hall. The hall will be under a dome 75 feet in diameter and 30 feet high. The 18 shower bathhouse is finished, as is the laundromat and a six family apartment house.
This year The Farm’has 60 acres under cultivation in 35 different crops including seven acres of peanuts, three acres of soybeans, three acres of sweet corn, three acres of popcorn, 8,800 strawberry plants and 10,000 tomato plants. So far, (August) with the good rain, we’ve harvested over 15,000 pounds of tomatoes, squash, beans, peas and carrots. Of our winter grains we got in three tons of wheat and five tons, all together, of rye, oats and barley. Also, we are partners with several neighbors in growing 140 acres of sorghum cane. We start cooking Old Beatnik Lewis County Sorghum beginning in September.
We’re continuing to develop our vegetarian diet for nutrition, economy and taste. Soybeans make a good substitute for cows. For one thing they take up a lot less room. Our soy dairy which consists of a coffee grinder and institutional size double boiler, a washing machine and a bulk milk cooler ($250.00 for the works) produces 250 gallons of delicious soymilk every week. A quart of soymilk supplies the same protein as cow’s milk, twice the iron and half the calcium (which can be added). Forty pounds of soybeans for $2.00 makes fifty gallons of milk. We’re adding a soy milkshake bar to the sorghum mill.
THE FINANCIAL REPORT
for the six month period of January through June 1972
Balance Brought Forward From Previous Financial Report 1,543.46
Investments and donations 57,179.63
Book sales (Monday Night Class) 10,093.30
Advance from Random House for The Caravan 15,000.00
Bail Refund 8,000.00
Vehicle sales 1,171.51 Stephen’s speaking gigs 480.00
Off The Farm work crews 346.00
Sorghum sales 121.09
The Book Publishing Co. 18,633.44
Saw Mill 202.19
Motor Pool 7,600.79
Office Supplies 176.30
The Store (food) 16,270.62
Legal expenses 3,108.60
Off The Farm work crews 388.00
Sorghum Mill 29.50
Debts (individuals) 1,802.69
House maintenance 225.86
Public Relations 370.17
The Farm Band 3,538.94
Marriage licenses 400.00
Farm payments 2,317.62
Misc. (personal needs) 2,678.09