The farm space is all about community. I want the farm space to facilitate community; to connect people with each other — that people would authentically connect, at a heart-to-heart level. That it would facilitate deeper relationships and intimacy, people sharing the highs and lows of life, and building rich interdependent relationships. It would be a place for people to dream together, to create together, to build together. A place for people to challenge each other and to receive support and care from each other.
As followers of Jesus, we would look to his teachings for inspiration and direction. He and his first group of followers modelled a way of life that was about living together and sharing everything. They spent their time living very closely, quite different to the isolation so common in the West. The early disciples listened to each other, loved one another, asked the hard questions, and had each other’s backs. This both scares me (as I won’t be able to hide my weaknesses as usual) and at the same time fills me with excitement at the prospect of deep love, care, and togetherness. In South Africa, where I lived for ten years, the word ‘ubuntu’ is used to describe this sort of belonging and oneness.
The farm would be a space for individuals and for families. While there will be a core group of people living on the farm, all should feel welcome to visit and participate, irrespective of age, race, gender, or knowledge of either faith or farming. I want the farm to feel like a family; a group of Mums, Dads, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. At the same time, there will be individual units within the whole — I am not envisaging everyone living under the same roof and sharing every meal. I see individual houses with their own gardens as well as the communal spaces and communal gardens. The private spaces will be important as we respect one another’s own needs and because intimate communal living is something that I think will take time to learn.
At the same time, it will be intentionally planned to have regular times of gathering as a larger community. For example, it would be great to share some meals each week and to have times of talking, singing and praying together. Of course, it will also be important for the group to join together for other activities on the land such as planting, maintenance, and harvesting.
A community hub is a massive part of the farm purpose. It warrants a much longer exploration of the outworking of these values. I haven’t yet mentioned finances or legislation as well as all the other aspects of living as community. More on these aspects in future articles.