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Voluntary Peasants

Life Inside the Ultimate American Commune: The Farm

This is a story about  life and times, a story I’ve been writing for over thirty years. Voluntary Peasants is my true story of remarkable experiences building, sustaining and living twelve years in a 1,500-member hippie commune in rural Tennessee.

Writing Voluntary Peasants has been a literary labor of love to accurately portray the lifestyles, adventures and misadventures of a grand collective formed with the intention to make the world a better place.

                     “A whirlwind journey toward enlightenment”

             —Peter Coyote, actor, author, Emmy Award-winning narrator, Zen priest

Melvyn reading Chapter 14: Peyote Meeting


Soon To Be a TV Series

A must read sixties book. Far-out high adventure, good vibes, warmth, humor, entertaining and uplifting. The psychedelic sixties come alive in this multi-level history/memoir, written by a journalist affected on assignments to cover anti-war demonstrations and the Grateful Dead who dropped out to live the story of the times and seek enlightenment—going with the flow—riding a powerful wave of energy that raised consciousness and shattered conventional paradigms around the world. Let your head soar free and take a mind-expanding trip.

An inside look into The Farm, an amazing 1,500-member hippie commune nestled in the backwoods of Tennessee. Enter what may seem another world—an audacious attempt to create a better way of living—an Earth-friendly, people-friendly, pacifist, eclectic, agrarian, vegan, spiritual community, cannabis church and home-birthing center.

“Imagine all the people living life in peace.”—John Lennon
That was us. We had it going.

An extraordinary journey from Greenwich Village beatniks in the ‘50s into the psychedelic ‘60s and ‘70s—heady, revolutionary times—times rich in lessons that can possibly help us now.

Melvyn followed the energy to San Francisco, sampled the spiritual smorgasbord of swamis, yogis and gurus and chose to follow hippie “self-realized spiritual teacher” Stephen Gaskin on a round-the-country, 100-colorful hippie bus caravan.

Hop aboard a hippie bus and journey with 300 New Age settlers on their way to Tennessee to begin a new life and a new lifestyle, a meaningful lifestyle the world can afford—to live collectively, build a town and live simple, close to nature.

Voluntary Peasants conveys sixties energy, vibes, mindscape and philosophy. Beyond sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll—beyond hippies, true tales of a remarkable experiment in collective living as thousands of high-minded people with heart join forces, pool resources and attempt to create a gracious, meaningful, sustainable lifestyle.

For twelve years the community grew from 300 to 1,500 as Melvyn came of age and learned new trades working as a farmer, carpenter and mason. He built houses, ran the community kitchen and bakery, was a flour miller, telephone repairman, apprentice auto mechanic, lumberjack, gatekeeper, editor of the town newspaper, and a DJ on the community FM-radio station.

After a devastating 1976 earthquake in Guatemala, Melvyn worked with The Farm’s hippie Peace Corps, Plenty International and Guatemalan Mayans building schools, clinics and houses in remote mountain villages and a clinic for Mother Teresa in Guatemala City. For this and other humanitarian projects, The Farm was awarded the “alternative Nobel Prize” the Swedish Right Livelihood Award.

Voluntary Peasants takes an up-close, critical look at Counter Culture Hall of Fame hippie guru Stephen Gaskin—dubbed by High Times: “the Gandhi of the counter culture”—and examines the author’s remarkable student-teacher relationship with him and with his wife, Most Influential Women Hall of Fame midwife Ina May Gaskin, author of Spiritual Midwifery. Voluntary Peasants examines the whole guru trip and the insidious workings of the phenomenon known as “groupthink.”

Voluntary Peasants is available as a 422-page paperback with 40 photos and includes the author’s backstory: Enlightenment/What’s It Good For, available only at www.voluntarypeasants.com.

Voluntary Peasants ebooks are available at Amazon Kindle.

Voluntary Peasants is available as an audiobook at Amazon Audible.

Voluntary Peasants TV series is coming soon.

We built our own little town—a village complete with houses, roads, farming, construction, motor pool, soy dairy, clinic, lab, doctors, midwives, bakery, cottage industries, FM radio station, solar-heated school, a dozen satellite communities and humanitarian outreach projects around the world. At peak—1,450 people enjoyed Zero Unemployment, Universal Healthcare, and all necessities on a little more than $100/person a month!”

Stephen Gaskin, who taught and preached about the true nature of God, “how the Universe works,” telepathy, energy, and the common ground of the spiritual paths of Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha and Allah. The pot-smoking, magic mushroom-eating, self-sanctioned purveyor of truth cast a broad world wisdom eclectic message to capture the hearts and minds of desperately searching, disenchanted Christians and Jews, turning conventional people into hippies.

Melvyn is available to speak to classes, groups and organizations interested in learning about communes, The Farm, living collectively, veganism and going back to the land.

      Message Melvyn newbeatbooks@gmail.com

Voluntary Peasants is also available as a 6-part ebook series here

and at Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01A7INM2W