The Tennessean, 2014 Historical Timeline

Stephen Gaskin, leader of a “spiritually oriented” community farm in Lewis County, Tenn., introduces The Farm Band during a concert in Neely Auditorium on Vanderbilt University campus Feb. 16, 1973.

Stephen Gaskin, leader of a “spiritually oriented” community farm in Lewis County, Tenn., introduces The Farm Band during a concert in Neely Auditorium on Vanderbilt University campus Feb. 16, 1973.

1968

Stephen Gaskin, a former English professor at San Francisco State College, conducts Monday Night Class, an open meeting discussing how psychedelic experiences relate to world religions.

Eventually classes attract more than 1,000 students a week.

1970

Gaskin tours the country to speak to congregations of various churches.

 

 

Two hundred regular attendees of Monday Night Class decide to accompany him and a 60-bus caravan forms. A video biography on Steven Gaskin can be found on The Farm’s current website.

Members of The Farm, a community living on 1,014 acres near Summertown, place sorghum stalks onto shocks late summer of 1971 for eventual processing at their molasses mill. The group, with 400 members, came to Tennessee to set up a communal life. They have been selling molasses in hope it will pay for the $70,000, 1,014-acre farm.

Members of The Farm, a community living on 1,014 acres near Summertown, place sorghum stalks onto shocks late summer of 1971 for eventual processing at their molasses mill. The group, with 400 members, came to Tennessee to set up a communal life. They have been selling molasses in hope it will pay for the $70,000, 1,014-acre farm.

1971

Black Swan Ranch: Summertown

After returning to California four months later, the caravan members decide to pool their money, buy land and stay together as a community.

They arrive in Summertown and place a down payment on the 1,050 acre Black Swan Ranch south of Nashville.

The Farm Community is founded with a population of 300.

Breaded Stephen Gaskin, standing, explains his religious beliefs to gathering of his own followers and some of the congregation of Sandy Hook Church of Christ at a joint meeting March 10, 1972 in Summertown.

Breaded Stephen Gaskin, standing, explains his religious beliefs to gathering of his own followers and some of the congregation of Sandy Hook Church of Christ at a joint meeting March 10, 1972 in Summertown.

Stephen Gaskin, leader of a “spiritually oriented” community farm in Lewis County, Tenn., and The Farm Band perform during a concert in Neely Auditorium on Vanderbilt University campus Feb. 16, 1973. A member of the group said the concert was held to improve the group’s image.

Stephen Gaskin, leader of a “spiritually oriented” community farm in Lewis County, Tenn., and The Farm Band perform during a concert in Neely Auditorium on Vanderbilt University campus Feb. 16, 1973. A member of the group said the concert was held to improve the group’s image.

1972

The Farm rocks

The Farm’s homegrown rock n’ roll band begins a series of coast-to-coast tours with Gaskin, playing in parks and student centers for free while promoting the community and increasing membership.

Then-reporter Al Gore writes about The Farm for The Tennessean newspaper. The Farm Clinic and The Farm School are founded.

Some members of The Farm are building a frame house near Summertown summer of 1971. The group, with 400 members, came to Tennessee to set up a communal life.

Some members of The Farm are building a frame house near Summertown summer of 1971. The group, with 400 members, came to Tennessee to set up a communal life.

1973

The Farm purchases “Hickory Hill”

The Farm purchases 700-acre “Hickory Hill,” adding to its land collective.

The Farm Bakery opens and The Rocky Branch Farm in Kentucky opens.

 

Robert Kollar / The Tennessean Stephen Gaskin, center, spiritual lead of a California religious cult, leaves the courtroom in the Lewis County Courthouse Nov. 10, 1971 in Hohenwald, Tenn. He and three of his followers are on trial for growing and possessing marijuana. The cult came to Middle Tennessee last spring from the San Francisco area and settled on a farm in Southeast Lewis County near Summertown.

Robert Kollar / The Tennessean Stephen Gaskin, center, spiritual lead of a California religious cult, leaves the courtroom in the Lewis County Courthouse Nov. 10, 1971 in Hohenwald, Tenn. He and three of his followers are on trial for growing and possessing marijuana. The cult came to Middle Tennessee last spring from the San Francisco area and settled on a farm in Southeast Lewis County near Summertown.

1974

Marijuana crops bring arrests

Gaskin and several others are jailed for one year for growing marijuana on The Farm property.
“Hey Beatnik! This is the Farm Book” is published. Good Tasting Nutritional Yeast mail order company started.

Plenty USA is founded as an aid outreach addressing hunger and communities in need. Several satellite communities start, including NY Farm in Franklin, The Virginia Farm near Louisa, and The Washington Farm.

1974

The Farm population grows

The Farm population grows to more than 750 people, including 160 married couples and 250 children. Over the next few years Plenty centers are set up in the South Bronx, Miami, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Chicago, the Caribbean, Guatemala, Central America, Africa and Bangladesh. The Rocky Branch Farm in Kentucky closes but other satellite farms are formed nationwide. The Farm Building Company is founded.

Dale Ernsberger / The Tennessean Several members of the cult of Stephen Gaskin sit in a circle on the courthouse lawn in Hohenwald, Tenn., and snack on apples for lunch Nov. 10, 1971. The group came to Middle Tennessee last spring from the San Francisco area and settled on a farm in Southeast Lewis County near Summertown. They indicated that they want to grow an organic garden.

Dale Ernsberger / The Tennessean
Several members of the cult of Stephen Gaskin sit in a circle on the courthouse lawn in Hohenwald, Tenn., and snack on apples for lunch Nov. 10, 1971. The group came to Middle Tennessee last spring from the San Francisco area and settled on a farm in Southeast Lewis County near Summertown. They indicated that they want to grow an organic garden.

Midwife Ina May Gaskin, right, teaches students how to assess a newborn during a midwifery workshop at The Farm May 1, 2003. Students Judith Thompson, left, of Phoenix, AZ and Christie Jangen of Canada take notes during the class. Gaskin and her partners at The Farm Midwifery Center host women from all over the world who want to learn more about midwifery.

Midwife Ina May Gaskin, right, teaches students how to assess a newborn during a midwifery workshop at The Farm May 1, 2003. Students Judith Thompson, left, of Phoenix, AZ and Christie Jangen of Canada take notes during the class. Gaskin and her partners at The Farm Midwifery Center host women from all over the world who want to learn more about midwifery.

1976

Midwifery at The Farm

Ina May Gaskin’s “Spiritual Midwifery” is published; the book on home birth introduced a generation of women to the concept of natural childbirth and earned Gaskin national and international fame.

Peter Jenkins at the end of his 2 1/2 year journey across country in a 57 Chevy, at his Spring Hill home, July 20, 2012. Samuel M. Simpkins/The Tennessean

Peter Jenkins at the end of his 2 1/2 year journey across country in a 57 Chevy, at his Spring Hill home, July 20, 2012. Samuel M. Simpkins/The Tennessean

1977

The Farm receives national attention

National Geographic article “Walk Across America,” publishes with Peter Jenkins’ visit to The Farm.

Chicago Farm opens and Georgia Farm closes.

1978

Hepatitis temporarily closes The Farm gate

A hepatitis outbreak closes the gate at The Farm in Tennessee to new members, causing populations to rise at some satellite farms. The first swimming hole opens at The Farm.

swimming hole 1986

Shelley Mays / The Tennessean The Radiation Alert Inspector device, shown here Oct. 26, 2005, is manufactured on The Farm in Summertown. The business is one of the most successful on The Farm.

Shelley Mays / The Tennessean
The Radiation Alert Inspector device, shown here Oct. 26, 2005, is manufactured on The Farm in Summertown. The business is one of the most successful on The Farm.

1979

Solar Electronics

Ham radio crew develops the “Nuke Buster,” a handheld Geiger counter now called Radiation Alert that continues to sell internationally. Solar Electronics starts up.

“Walk Across America,” with Peter Jenkins’ visit to The Farm is published as a book.

school 19881980

Raid inspires festival

State police raid The Farm at night looking for marijuana plants and converging on a field of ragweed, thus beginning the annual July 11 Ragweed Day Festival;

Stephen Gaskin and The Farm’s Plenty International win the first Right Livelihood Award, which has been presented annually in Stockholm every year since to honor and support those “offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.”

Most of the 17 existing satellite farms sell off and many of those residents move to Tennessee.
The Phil Donahue Show hosts Gaskin.

ike DuBose / The Tennessean John Sharlet, second from right, teaches campers the value of teamwork as they carry a canoe to the lake during the Kids to the Country summer camp at The Farm July 19, 1991.

Mike DuBose / The Tennessean
John Sharlet, second from right, teaches campers the value of teamwork as they carry a canoe to the lake during the Kids to the Country summer camp at The Farm July 19, 1991.

1982

Kids to the Country program

Kids to the Country program begins on New York Farm, bringing at-risk and urban youth to The Farm to enjoy nature and study peace education.

P. Casey Daley / The Tennessean Sadie Ibur, 8, and her teacher, Bonnie Holsinger, tackle math at the ground level April 15, 1988. Teachers at The Farm School say they provide individual attention to each student and form partnership with parents to help children learn.

P. Casey Daley / The Tennessean
Sadie Ibur, 8, and her teacher, Bonnie Holsinger, tackle math at the ground level April 15, 1988. Teachers at The Farm School say they provide individual attention to each student and form partnership with parents to help children learn.

1982

Increase in visitors

The Farm population grows to more than 1,200 members, half of whom are children; the annual number of visitors increases to more than 10,000.

P. Casey Daley / The Tennessean Joan Thomas, right, discusses the cob construction of the Ecovillage Visitors Center on The Farm near Summertown with Kathryn Hutchens Oct. 20, 1998.

P. Casey Daley / The Tennessean
Joan Thomas, right, discusses the cob construction of the Ecovillage Visitors Center on The Farm near Summertown with Kathryn Hutchens Oct. 20, 1998.

1983

Transitions at The Farm

The “changeover” takes place, and The Farm transitions from being totally collective, where all things were held in common, to a cooperative. The land is held in common but monthly dues are levied for community expenses. The population decreases dramatically.

1984

Solar Electronics become S.E. International, Inc.

The Farm business Solar Electronics becomes S.E. International, Inc., a developer, manufacturer and distributor of Geiger counters, radiation detectors and more.

Shelley Mays / The Tennessean Joseph Thomas solders a surface board for an Inspector Plus radiation detector at S.E. International on The Farm near Summertown Oct. 26, 2005. The business is privately owned and generates more than $2 million in annual sales.

Shelley Mays / The Tennessean
Joseph Thomas solders a surface board for an Inspector Plus radiation detector at S.E. International on The Farm near Summertown Oct. 26, 2005. The business is privately owned and generates more than $2 million in annual sales.

Sam Upshaw Jr. / The Tennessean Sky Weinishke, a child of The Farm, takes a turn at leading a horse to demonstrate the skill for summer campers July 24, 1986. The Farm, founded in 1971 as a self-sufficient commune, has about 300 residents. At its peak in the 1970s, the community had a population of about 1,500.

Sam Upshaw Jr. / The Tennessean
Sky Weinishke, a child of The Farm, takes a turn at leading a horse to demonstrate the skill for summer campers July 24, 1986. The Farm, founded in 1971 as a self-sufficient commune, has about 300 residents. At its peak in the 1970s, the community had a population of about 1,500.

1987

Property paid off

Last payment made on The Farm property, which was purchased in 1971 at $70 an acre.

1990

Alternative Energy Fair

The Farm hosts its first Alternative Energy Fair.

Anne Paine / The Tennessean Inventor Darrell Murphy, in driver seat, gives Christina Clark, right, a ride in his solar-powered SunDriver during the Alternatives Fair at The Farm in Summertown Oct. 3, 1992.

Anne Paine / The Tennessean
Inventor Darrell Murphy, in driver seat, gives Christina Clark, right, a ride in his solar-powered SunDriver during the Alternatives Fair at The Farm in Summertown Oct. 3, 1992.

Midwife Ina May Gaskin likes to ride her bike to get to the clinic at The Farm May 4, 2003. Ina was one of the founding members of The Farm in 1971, which now is home to approximately 200 persons.

Midwife Ina May Gaskin likes to ride her bike to get to the clinic at The Farm May 4, 2003. Ina was one of the founding members of The Farm in 1971, which now is home to approximately 200 persons.

1992

Conservation protects land

Swan Conservation Trust is created as a means of protecting headwater forests and streams in the Big Swan and Big Bigby watersheds.

 

 

 

 

 

-TheFarm_org1993

Creation of Website

Creation of the first Farm website, with links to all the current business ventures and programs.

See the modernized version of the site here.

Ina May Gaskin walks through the Green Dragon, a building created as an experiment in eco-conscious and alternative building techniques by members at The Farm, July 10, 2013 in Summertown, Tenn. The Farm is one of America's oldest intentional communities, originally founded out of the counter-culture movement of the 60's in 1971.

Ina May Gaskin walks through the Green Dragon, a building created as an experiment in eco-conscious and alternative building techniques by members at The Farm, July 10, 2013 in Summertown, Tenn. The Farm is one of America’s oldest intentional communities, originally founded out of the counter-culture movement of the 60’s in 1971.

 1994

Swan Conservation Trust makes first land purchase, 100 acres near Summertown in the headwaters of the Big Bigby Creek, now known as “The Highland Woods Preserve.

Ecovillage Training Center opens as an immersion school on sustainable living.

Lily Rohrbach, with children Sienna, 3, and Sunny, 3 months, pick blueberries in the community patch at The Farm, July 10, 2013 in Summertown, Tenn. Rohrbach grew up on The Farm and lived elsewhere for a time, but returned because she wanted to raise her children in the community-spirited environment. The Farm is one of America's oldest intentional communities, originally founded out of the counter-culture movement of the 60's in 1971.

Lily Rohrbach, with children Sienna, 3, and Sunny, 3 months, pick blueberries in the community patch at The Farm, July 10, 2013 in Summertown, Tenn. Rohrbach grew up on The Farm and lived elsewhere for a time, but returned because she wanted to raise her children in the community-spirited environment. The Farm is one of America’s oldest intentional communities, originally founded out of the counter-culture movement of the 60’s in 1971.

2000

Conservation award

The Farm Yoga Studio opens.

Swan Conservation Trust receives the Natural Heritage Conservation Award from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

P. Casey Daley / The Tennessean Watching their teacher at The Farm School April 15, 1988 are students Jeff Ibur, 16, left, and Esther Traugot, 16. The pair are not old enough to have been original settlers on The Farm near Summertown, founded in Lewis County in 1971. But their tie-dyed shirts are reminiscent of those worn in the 60s and 70s. Ibur's family makes and sells the shirts, trendy again.

P. Casey Daley / The Tennessean
Watching their teacher at The Farm School April 15, 1988 are students Jeff Ibur, 16, left, and Esther Traugot, 16. The pair are not old enough to have been original settlers on The Farm near Summertown, founded in Lewis County in 1971. But their tie-dyed shirts are reminiscent of those worn in the 60s and 70s. Ibur’s family makes and sells the shirts, trendy again.

2005

Second generation graduates

Final second-generation Farm kid graduates from The Farm School.

2006

Are Your Experienced?

Through the Farm Experience program, visitors can enjoy all the features of The Farm.

2010

Population

Population of The Farm Community averages 200 people, including visitors, interns, birthing couples and temporary residents.

ina may 2003-10

Stephen Gaskin received the very first Right Livelihood Award in 1980, with his wife Ina May Gaskin receiving the honor in 2011, making them the only husband and wife team to both be recipients of the prestigious award.

2011

The Farm celebrates 40th anniversary

40th anniversary of the founding of The Farm Community. Ina May Gaskin becomes a 2011 Right Livelihood Award laureate for “her whole-life’s work teaching and advocating safe, woman-centered childbirth methods that best promote the physical and mental health of mother and child.”

Stephen Gaskin and his wife, Ina May, are founding members of The Farm, an intentional community in Summertown, Tenn. Dipti Vaidya / The Tennessean Stephen and Ina May Gaskin Farm,  July 10, 2013 in Summertown, Tenn. The couple are founding members of The Farm, one of the oldest intentional communities founded out of the counterculture movement of the 60's.

Stephen Gaskin and his wife, Ina May, are founding members of The Farm, an intentional community in Summertown, Tenn.
Dipti Vaidya / The Tennessean
Stephen and Ina May Gaskin Farm, July 10, 2013 in Summertown, Tenn. The couple are founding members of The Farm, one of the oldest intentional communities founded out of the counterculture movement of the 60’s.

2014

Gaskin dies

Stephen Gaskin dies at his home the morning of July 1, 2014.

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