The truth is, we get a lot of questions. On a daily basis, our lives don't seem all that different or radical from most rural folks. We grow food, kids, relationships...we try to keep it simple and live a good life. The divergence occurs mostly in the ethics and ideals behind what we've got going on. Listed below are a handful of the more common questions, please feel free to contact us if you'd like more information.
What's the basic vision?
Finney Farm is an intentional community focused on education, sustainability, homesteading, and stewardship. We intend to grow as much of our own food as possible without having to clear our forested land which we hold as a nature reserve. We have a wide range of social and educational outreach components and participate a great deal in our surrounding rural community. The farm operates on a fairly low budget, and each resident makes a monthly financial contribution to cover our annual expenses. Through our homesteading efforts and affordability due to group contribution, we hope that individuals are able to eliminate wage slavery from their lives. We do not necessarily eschew working for wages, but we want it to be a choice--and for our members to have the opportunity to take paid work less often, and to create their own cottage industry endeavor if they wish. We want housing to be accessible and affordable; without bank loans and high mortgage payments which never go away. Finney Farm uses the permaculture model in our land use plan and utilized shared connections and resources whenever possible. We have a large commons area that includes gardens, orchards, outdoor structures including a barn and shop, a community house with an office/library/kitchen/bathroom, private bedrooms, and more.
Your website mentions anarchism. Doesn't that mean bombs and black masks?
A publication from Crimethinc says "Anarchism is the revolutionary idea that no one is more qualified than you are to decide what your life will be." We like to be in charge of our own selves and we think we're pretty good at it. We would rather be able to choose how we live each hour of our lives, learn from and deal with the consequences of our actions, and be the masters of our own reality. So yes, it probably could mean bombs and black masks, but that isn't what we're doing here.
Sometimes we tell our kids that fair is everyone getting what they need, not everyone getting exactly the same. We think it's the same way with being an anarchist. Sometimes in order to get what we need, we might choose to let someone take a leadership role but because we are choosing this, it becomes a blessing rather than a burden...and it's fair.
Living in a rural area, we find that our local community affects us a great deal. We place a high value on connection and accountability-two key elements for a flourishing society. We create our own reality of a healthy community environment by growing and distributing thousands of vegetable and herb seeds at no charge every year; by donating goods for local charities or fundraising endeavors; through hosting free community events; by doing our business locally and participating in local economy; by plugging in with labor, goods, and ideas for a variety of community needs, and by volunteering. A lot. We feel that we deserve a good life, so we aim to create it.
How do you make decisions?
We use consensus decision making. Generally speaking, we meet once a month for a business meeting and one weekend a year for our annual meeting. We use those opportunities to make decisions on everything, from the garden watering schedule to our annual budget. We have all received NVC (Non-Violet Communication) training which we find to be helpful in navigating the decision making process, and an asset in our daily lives.
Who's in charge?
Us. Finney Farm is egalitarian community, which means that everyone get equal rights and opportunities. That being said, we recognize that in order for us to reach our goals, it's not always in the best interest of the group to operate under the least common denominator. We see this a lot with communities like ours. A garden project begun by a group of individuals with experience ranging from absolute beginner to organic farmer with 20+ years of experience will get so bogged down in process and decision making because the beginners have the same decision making power as the farmer. We try to remember that our skillset does not define us and we try to keep our egos in check. At Finney Farm, the farmer would try to offer knowledge and be open to new ideas and the beginner would understand and embrace the role of an apprentice, with both participating to the best of their abilities and without holding up process.
We get a lot of praise for being more productive than most similar egalitarian communities, and we believe much of our productivity is due to placing the higher vision of the collective above individual tasks or activities. We might choose to have a garden manager, name someone to lead a building project, or allow one person to build a website...but we don't allow our roles to define us and make one person more important than the others. We are all equally valuable as people and members of Finney Farm and our roles are just a game we choose to play.
What's it like to live at Finney Farm?
Sometimes it's a veritable Shangri La and other times you're ankle deep in mud and conflict. So...pretty much like living anywhere else except that we find the blessing to burden ratio much in our favor. The land is gorgeous and lush, we have a lovely creek, an amazing forest, and beautiful gardens. We usually spend some time each day working outdoors throughout most of the year, most of us work for wages in some capacity (primarily self-employment/cottage industry), some of us unskool/homeschool our kids, we try to do what we love every day. We have very minimal electricity-typically 5 to 15 amps per household (most American homes have 200) but through conscious effort we're able to make good use of it and don't want for much if anything. We use root cellars for food storage, use gas or wood stoves for cooking, source our own firewood for wood heat, grow much of our own food, and generally have a pretty nice life. Most of the time we have 6-10 year round adult residents, a small number of children, and 2-5 volunteers from March-early November. Some residents have cottage industry efforts on the farm. There are some phone lines and highish speed internet available at some sites, cell phone reception is generally decent.
But really, the land is amazing and we feel pretty lucky to be here.
How do I find out more? Can I visit?
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information or to schedule a visit. But...and we have to say this...we get a lot of inquiries. Which is great, but please know that one very busy person volunteers to answer all of the farm email. We may not always respond as promptly as we'd prefer. If you are interested in the farm, please take that into consideration and do not send multiple emails a day until you hear from us. This will not make a good first impression. Also, this same person schedules all of our visitors and is responsible for arranging their stay with the community. Please do not schedule a visit unless you are sure you can actually commit to visiting. Coordinating with the residents for one visit often means multiple conversations and working the the calendars of up to 10 adults. This can take A LOT of time, so we greatly appreciate your consideration before booking a tour/visit.
If you are trying to visit with the idea of possibly moving here...please check in to see if we will have any openings in the near future unless you have your own portable dwelling before scheduling a visit. We do often have seasonal rooms for let in the community house over the winter months, but open cabins are pretty rare. Also, we are currently full up on dogs and are not able to host more.
It's helpful if you read through the website thoroughly before contacting us. When you write, please indicate why you are contacting us:
-I am interested in moving to the farm in the next 6 months or so
-I am interested in your project and may wish to do something similar on a different piece of land/with a different group
-I am kind of dreaming of a different life and just making some initial contact
Or just let us know whatever your specific interest or goal is. This helps us determine how to proceed.
We try really hard to answer all the emails, and have hosted so many visitors...but we have limited time and resources. If you can help by being really clear about what you want to know or what you'd like to get from a visit, we'd appreciate it.