"Imagine all the people living life in peace." -- John Lennon

That was us. We had it going. Enter another world, a beautiful, peaceful bucolic world born out of the sixties. Come deep inside lush southern Tennessee woods to farm, build, eat, dance, sing, marry, make love and have babies. Observe and feel part of a 1,500-member collective community sharing labor, land, love, music, purpose and friendship in a Little Eden, a hippie Shangri-La.

The Farm, a spiritual hippie cult, lived on 1,764 acres for twelve years; all pacifist, vegan followers of self-proclaimed "spiritual teacher," "guru" Stephen Gaskin. Some thought the charismatic man was an intelligent head-copper, a charlatan. Others believed Gaskin was the next Christ, a living Buddha and New Age avatar in hippie form.

Prologue and Part One cover the years 1942-1969. The whole 422-page story is now also a paperback, Voluntary Peasants/Inside the Ultimate American Commune: THE FARM, available at

We include memoirs of my sixties adventures -- sometimes angsty, sometimes comical pursuit of enlightenment, fun, love and adventure -- enough back-story for viewers to see where I was coming from before undergoing dramatic transformations triggered by psychedelics and the spirit of the time.

In the sixties, I was a young journalist working as an editor and reporter for UPI and covered demonstrations and the Grateful Dead's first free New York concert. I worked a stint as a Madison Avenue publicist. Weekends I smoked marijuana and got high and soon found myself following irresistible energy over the edge to live the story of the times.

Voluntary Peasants is the story of a daring, ripe for change group of spiritual sixties people who formed a pact to follow Stephen Gaskin to live together collectively, to pool all resources, energy and talents to create a peaceful, back-to-the land lifestyle, a happy, safe, sane way of living the whole world can afford.

Our main characters are:
Stephen Gaskin -- a six-foot-five, long-haired, Jesus-looking, Marine Corps combat veteran and former college semantics teacher, who claimed he was enlightened by LSD, a charismatic leader who led a free weekly San Francisco class on energy, telepathy and how to have a good trip. Stephan gathered followers and led an audacious, round-the-country, 100 colorful refitted bus and van caravan, started The Farm, founded a New Age religion based on psychedelic experience, mystical Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and world wisdom teachings. Stephen was inducted in the Counter Culture Hall of Fame and is recipient of the Swedish Right Livelihood Award "For caring, sharing and acting with and on behalf of those in need at home and abroad."

Ina May Gaskin -- Stephen's wife, is an author and major force in midwifery and home birthing and recipient of the Swedish Right Livelihood Award.

I was one of Stephen's fully-committed spiritual students, a devotee, remarkably head-copped and brain washed, who eventually saw the light after years of dedicated service and performing challenging, sometimes dangerous assigned tasks. Also, Stephen, put me on a "vow of chastity" for two years.

I was one of 300 founders of The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee. We lived collectively for twelve years and grew to be an amazing, friendly community of vegan, pacifist, spiritual hippies, and other varieties of like-minded people who all pulled together to make a difference in the world. I worked as a field worker, carpenter and mason; ran the community kitchen and bakery, was a flour miller, editor of the town newspaper, telephone repairman, auto mechanic, gatekeeper and a DJ on our community FM radio station.

After a devastating 1976 earthquake in Guatemala, I worked with a crew from The Farm and Mayans building schools, clinics and houses in remote mountain villages and built a clinic for Mother Teresa in Guatemala City.

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Additional Info

  • Publication Date: January 9, 2014
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Print Length: 129 Pages
  • File Size: 5,168 KB

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