Print Books
This Fall

Voluntary Peasants Labor of Love
 True  behind-the-scenes stories, anecdotes, impressions of America's biggest commune to come out of the 60s, THE FARM.  
A fun, entertaining, revealing, non-fiction novel and portal
  into a far-out world of Zen beatniks, back-to-the-land,
 eco-friendly hippies, communes, gurus, LSD, peyote,
 magic mushrooms, telepathy, energy and cannabis spirituality.
The Farm in Tennessee was one of the most significant attempts
  to create a better, green lifestyle to come out of the sixties—
a far-out experiment in Aquarian Age, spiritual collective living—
reported by a former UPI journalist seeking enlightenment and adventure,
 who followed the 60s over the edge and joined 300 hippies
 to create The Farm—a far-out, eclectic, agrarian, vegan community,
 globally-affordable lifestyle and cannabis church in rural Tennessee.
A Six-Part Ebook Series
Coming All in One Book This Fall
At peak, The Farm's population was 1,500 resident-members,
 and had a dozen satellite communities and humanitarian projects
 around the world. America’s biggest, most storied commune—
The Farm was awarded the Swedish Right Livelihood Award—
 “For caring, sharing and acting with and on behalf of those in need
 at home and abroad.”
A psychedelic odyssey from Greenwich Village beatniks in the 50s
 to Woodstock, the San Francisco spiritual smorgasbord of 1969;
 Stephen Gaskin's round-the-country, save-the-world, hippie school bus caravan—landing in the boondocks of Tennessee, up Moonshine Alley—
FBI, KKK and vigilantes all watching to see what we're up to.
Our intention was to get back to the land, work together,
 share, be friends and create
 —a lifestyle the whole world can afford.

Voluntary Peasants Labor of Love

is a 30-year-in-the-making,  deeply personal, literary
labor of love about an historic, 13-year,  collective
labor of love of thousands of people dedicated to create
a gracious, sustainable way of living
—good for all life on the planet.  

Soon Taking Preorders
for Print Books

Other formats such as mobi are also available.
You can request format in PayPal checkout.
Same Day Delivery

Enlightenment—What’s it Good For
Voluntary Peasants Labor of Love 

 $1.99 for Pdf or Amazon Kindle
A real life Mad Man story.
The author's backstory from 1942-'69, from Greenwich Village
beatniks to California hippies. A refreshing Zen joy ride with Peter Coyote and 
A Gypsy Good Time.
Just like Mad Man's Don Draper, the author worked a stint
as a Madison Avenue publicist on the Lucky Strike 
cigarette account and had a spiritual identity crisis.
 Melvyn worked also as  a reporter for 
United Press International, the young guy
 UPI sent to cover the Grateful Dead  and  Vietnam War
demonstrations.  The young reporter  was caught up
in the energy  and followed  the story  of the times  over the edge
 to live  the story himself.

Voluntary Peasants Labor of Love
Part 1
Genesis of The Farm Commune

Genesis of America's biggest commune. Includes the psychedelic,
San Francisco Spiritual Smorgasbord of 1969, Stephen Gaskin's
teachings on Telepathy, Energy and How to Have a Good Trip,
Being Enlightened Here and Now, and the Great, Follow-the-Guru,
Round-the-Country, Save-the-World, School Bus Caravan  to
rural Tennessee, where the stage is set with the
FBI and KKK and watching to see what the hippies do.

Buy PDF here $2.99 




Voluntary Peasants Labor of Love
Part 2

The Farm Commune, Year One

Landing in the boondocks of Tennessee, up Moonshine Alley,
300 intrepid hippie pioneers attempt to get back to the land,
learn how to farm, survive, and build a village and lifestyle
the whole world can afford. The challenge is for city people
to learn to farm and be self-reliant, while maintaining
spiritual hippie practices.
We get raided.

 $2.99 PDF ebook  here


Voluntary Peasants Labor of Love
Part 3

The Farm Commune Pioneer Days

Community population explodes to 500. We build our own school,
 clinic, houses, roads, soy dairy, flour mill, bakery and cottage industries.
Despite a valiant legal effort to beat the case, on the grounds that
marijuana is the sacrament of our church, h
ippie Guru,
Stephen Gaskin and three other men go to jail, and The Farm
goes through changes. Undaunted, true hippies,
The Farm population continues to grow and celebrate life.

Buy Part 3 ebook PDF and all formats here $2.99  


Voluntary Peasants Labor of Love
Part 4
Mayan Adventure

Volunteer, hippie peasants from The Farm meet the real deal.
A year of grassroots earthquake reconstruction in remote
Guatemalan villages—working with Mayans, building schools,
clinics, houses and a clinic for Mother Teresa—humanitarian
outreach of  America’s biggest commune—a remarkable
experiment in collective living—reported by a former UPI journalist,
 who followed the 60s over the edge to join a tribe of spiritual hippies
in the creation of a “better way to live.”

$2.99 for PDF here

$2.99 at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PV7H546

Mayan women wearing traditional traje, carrying goods to market.
Photo by Melvyn Stiriss

San Andres Itzapa, Guatemala, reconstructed after the
devastating 1976 earthquake, a pueblo rebuilt with the help of
\the author and other volunteer carpenters from The Farm
commune working with Mayans in remote mountain villages.
Photo by Melvyn Stiriss

Who knew humanitarian work could be so much fun, such adventure
and be so rewarding? I always found the Peace Corps appealing
—helping people in exotic places—but I did not want to work
 under government rules. Then, along comes Plenty International
—a hippie Peace Corps. No-brainer. Sign me up!

February 4, 1976—3:01 a.m., a powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake
 shook central Guatemala. For barely one minute, the ground
heaved and rolled in waves. 23,000 people died; 80,000 were injured,
and many thousands were left homeless.

Fifteen hundred miles north, at The Farm—long-haired,
ham radio operators picked up calls for help from Guatemala
—“Terremoto!” Earthquake! The Farm’s humanitarian
outreach program, Plenty International sent a team of three hippie
carpenters to help with earthquake reconstruction.
I was one of those carpenters.

Voluntary Peasants Labor of Love, The Farm Commune—Part 4,
Mayan Adventure—describes my thirteen-month departure
from The Farm to do volunteer earthquake reconstruction in Guatemala,
working with Mayans—building schools, clinics, houses and
a clinic for Mother Teresa—work that earned the community
the Swedish Right Livelihood Award—“For caring, sharing and
acting with and on behalf of those in need at home and abroad.”

Voluntary Peasants Labor of Love 
    Part 5
Utopia Myopia

The Grand Finale.
Most revealing. Includes the action-packed,
last seven collective years of the commune, audacious projects, adventures,
 a bogus raid, "Big Changeover," Reflections, Conclusions and Updates.

$2.99 Ebook at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WH77F98
or Pdf here

Voluntary Peasants Labor of Love begins at the dazzling San Francisco,
spiritual smorgasbord of 1969—yogis, swamis, communes,
self-proclaimed messiahs; people from all over—experimenting;
meditating,  being here and now—to change their lives—to evolve, mentally
and spiritually; to transform magically into free spirits—flower children
 and hippies. I  was one of these—in that dynamic wave of people
who came to California in search of enlightenment and a happier lifestyle.

Melvyn Talks 

Contact Melvyn to Speak to your group, blow conch, show photos, answer questions, tell stories of the sixties, communes and shift in consciousness. 

Entertaining, informative, transportive. Author, publisher,
audio book producer, actor, musician, social historian
Melvyn Stiriss
speaks about his remarkable experiences living in  alternative lifestyle, intentional community, farming, building, world outreach humanitarian projects,  world wisdom teachings, spirituality, marijuana, survival in the twenty-first century,  gurus, second careers, memoir writing and self-publishing. 

 To have Melvyn speak to your group

Voluntary Peasants Labor of Love
Parts 1-3
Genesis, Year One, Pioneer Days
The Farm Commune


"Powerfully accurate."
"The book is very well written.”

"Entertaining and heartfelt. Full of details that make you feel you are there,
at the mindblowing experience of establishing a successful 'hippy commune'
in the deep rural south in the 1970s. The author shares a lot of 'inside' information
 that illustrates to what a great extent the Farm was a groundbreaking,
and largely successful, social experiment."

"Love the writing style."

"Great read and leaves you wanting more."

“My interest is certainly piqued.”
“It makes me want to go live there.”

"I really loved reading this book. I heard of the Farm many years ago,
 and I was always curious how it operated. This book gives a very
detailed personal account of how the farm was created and how it operated.
The book is very well written. I felt like I was there. It’s not a sugar-coated story.
Beside Melvyn, Stephen Gaskin, the spiritual leader of the Farm, was the central
figure in the narrative. It’s clear that the author, like everyone else on the farm,
revered Stephen. However, some of Stephen’s flaws were very subtly revealed
as the narrative progressed. It was interesting to me how a leader with absolute
authority exercises his/her powers. I can’t wait to read Melvyn’s continuing
account of the Farm in his next book."

"I can't wait for the next installment. As I was reading, it was the proverbial
"couldn't put it down." I read it in a few hours, and will probably re-read it soon.
Melvyn is a gifted storyteller who takes you on a journey into the past to a time
and place that never existed before and may never again. Melvyn was able
 to take me right into his world and make me see it though his eyes.
I can't wait for the next installment. I always read each one in one sitting."

"This book is so good. It tells the tale of a generation pushing for change a
nd looking for a path to sanity through spirituality. The author does
a great job of telling this tale in a very accessible manner.

"I listened to the audiobook, read by the author, and I was surprised at
his exceptional skills of delivery. And even though this tale describes
an entire movement, the author does a great job of giving us a personal story
 we can relate to. By doing this, he gives us a way in the door to a movement
we may have been too young, too old, or too shy to participate in.
Kudos for the great job! Looking forward to the next installments."

"What a great window into a world that previously we could only see through
shallow attempts by mainstream media. Don't miss it !"

"Great stuff. So honest. It really invokes the acid visions, the whole feeling
 of what it was like back then at Monday Night Class and Sunday Services.
I don't know how it sounds to anyone who wasn't there,
but for me you totally capture it."







Hippie guru, Stephen Gaskin blowing cow horn to start an OM at Goddard College, 1970 on the Caravan.  Photo by Neal Warshaw

Often when we hear or read the word commune we think of a lot of people
all crowded into one big house. We were that—times 100!  At our peak, 
The Farm had 1,400 people living in 100 houses. I lived two years in a
house with 36 people—men, women, children and babies. 

We believed in marriage and family and worked diligently to be quite
the opposite of the lazy hippie stereotype, and we got good results—
clean, well-groomed, clear-eyed, on-deck, productive people who
gave up all drugs and alcohol, except “the organics,” chiefly—marijuana.

In the sixties, Pandora’s box burst open
and suddenly
all things were possible. Music, art literature—Everything was saying—
This is a new age, and all things are possible.
I followed clues,
energy and vibes
to Woodstock and San Francisco;
dropped LSD;
enlightenment; got telepathic; went over the edge and found
—"Hippie Pope," Stephen Gaskin, High Times calls
“the Ghandi of the American Counterculture” and a woman who would
become Women’s Hall of Fame midwife.

We also examine pros and cons of having spiritual gurus and  pitfalls of

“Group Think.”
The Caravan landed in Tennessee boondocks
300 wide-eyed, hippie pioneers hot to build a model village and lifestyle
 and make a difference in the world—right dab, smack in the
middle of moonshine country, with the FBI, KKK, vigilantes with shotguns
 all watching pot-smoking, city greenhorns attempt to farm and survive

Over 13 collective years, more than 4,000 people lived at The Farm;
learned skills and trades, went through changes, fell in love, married,
 had babies, and worked green and humanitarian projects around the world
 at a dozen satellite farms and aid projects.

About the Author

                                                                                                   Melvyn Stiriss

Entertaining writer, storyteller—Melvyn collected much grist for the mill
 as he worked a remarkable variety of jobs—reporter, radio announcer,
publicist, carpenter, mason, farmer, miller, baker, vegan chef, movie extra,
set and props builder, roadie and stagehand, and the co-director of a nonprofit.

Melvyn  created New Beat Books in 2011 to report The Farm social experiment
 and his experiences. Melvyn is a colorful print and oral historian;
enjoys writing, publishing, and speaking about his experiences, memoir writing, self-publishing, producing audiobooks and his remarkable journey out of the box, building community.

A “Space Age Baby,” Melvyn was born the same day the first V2 Rocket
 was launched, inaugurating the Space Age, October 3, 1942. Melvyn grew
 up in a blue-collar family in Edgewater, New Jersey, in view of New York City and the Hudson River, his playgrounds

The author attended the University of Richmond in a segregated South,
 then worked as a newspaper and UPI wire service reporter in NY and
Chicago; worked a stint as a Mad Ave. Mad Man, ran into the 60s,
smoked marijuana, tried LSD and Zen, went to Woodstock and followed
 the energy and telepathic clues to
the great San Francisco
spiritual smorgasbord of 1969. Here, Melvyn found a “psychedelic Zen guru,”
Stephen Gaskin, and went down the rabbit hole in search of enlightenment.

"After living years in a quasi-cloistered society, returning to
civilization feels like being that character in the James Hilton novel
 and movie, Lost Horizon, as he attempts to describe life in Shangri-La
—a fictional, telepathic paradise hidden in the Himalayas.
Our Shangri-La was real—in the backwoods of Tennessee.

Was it paradise?
At times The Farm was paradise. Thousands concur, but not always. We ran on a shoestring, and sometimes, farm life was tough, but every day on America's biggest commune was far-out adventure of body, mind and spirit.



Perhaps the most enjoyable way to experience Voluntary Peasants—A Labor Of Love—is to hear the author read the book to you.
Feel vibes, energy and subtleties impossible to convey through print alone.
Melvyn, an actor and musician as well as a writer, worked as a broadcast
journalist in the 60s.

Listening Length: 4 hours and 36 minutes

Part One Audiobook at Amazon,  iTunes and Audible.com

    AudioBook Sample
            Beforewords and San Francisco Spiritual Smorgasbord
of 1969  
            Audiobook now at Amazon, iTunes, Audible.com  
                           Listening Length: 4 hours and 34 minutes

                                                                  (Prices vary slightly)

Stephen Gaskin speak to The Farm 10/2/77 



Photos by Melvyn Stiriss

Dedication  I dedicate this book to all the brave, hard-working,
good-natured men and women of the Farm Community, who selflessly
devoted years of their lives to build a model village and globally-affordable,
sustainable lifestyle for the sake of all life—and to all good souls everywhere
who work daily to make the world a better place
There are many beautiful myths about The Farm, some a shade or two
rosier than reality. Reality was mostly very nice, often beautiful but
 of course, The Farm was populated with real people, and real people are
 neither angels nor superheroes. Bad stuff happened. Power corrupted.
 People changed. To be fair and balanced,
Voluntary Peasants
 “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

To this day, forty years later, The Farm still carries wonderful cachet.
Just hearing about The Farm gives people hope; makes people feel good,
 and I never want to diminish that. Wherever I go, when I mention
The Farm, people light up, smile and say
"WOW! The Farm!
I heard about that place." Or, they saw it on TV, or someone they know
lived there, or maybe they picked up a hitchhiker who told
amazing tales about a wonderful place.

What exactly are
voluntary peasants? Voluntary peasants are
everyday people from all walks of life, who choose to live simply—
close to the earth, growing food and community—for the sake of the planet,
their families and their own souls.

The Great, Round-the-Country, Save-the-World Hippie School Bus Caravan, 100 buses, 12,000 miles, Columbus Day, 1970-May, 1971.

                                         The author baking bread in The Farm Bakery, 1983
                              Photo by Joe Silver

Five days a week, we baked 350 hand-shaped-with-love loaves of bread for the community. We also made bagels, cookies, granola, cake and vegan pizza.


Voluntary Peasants
Website Builder