‘Tis a Gift To Be Simple
Compared to that of mainstream America, life at Alpha is drastically different. We heat mostly with wood, and do not have some of the amenities that are frequently taken for granted, such as broadcast television. The farm does have WiFi, electricity, and running water. We live comfortably. Hard work is a way of life – even a way of expressing ourselves. The day begins around 8 AM and ends around 5 PM, but there is always time to pause and appreciate the people and land around. Each person is expected to work at least 40 hours a week, with a few exceptions.
To own land is to be steward and partner to part of the planet – both a privilege and a responsibility. Over the past two and a half decades, the land here has taken on increasing significance as we learn to recognize and understand its cycles and currents, and in this process, experience a growing sense of place. As we come to know this land and learn to pay attention, we find that the Earth itself will suggest appropriate functions, whether for agriculture, for development or simply to be left wild. Such different sources as the Native Americans, Rudolph Steiner and our friends at Findhorn have influenced our learning of the appropriate harmonic role in relation to the earth. Over the years we also have produced an abundance of fruit, honey, eggs and dairy products. Currently, 2018, the garden is mostly overgrown due to a lack of consistent gardeners on the farm. Our diet is primarily omnivorous and vegan, and dinners together are a lighthearted family ritual. Most people will cook with a buddy once a week for the communal dinner.
Love Made Visible
It takes a lot to keep things going on a homestead: food production, preservation and preparation, building maintenance, auto care and repair, housekeeping, accounting, shopping. Currently Alpha is seeking individuals who will bring additional sources of income to the farm that are sustainable as well an individuals invested in helping restructure the community. Although people at Alpha are occasionally employed at “outside” jobs or free-lance work, most community work occurs in communally owned enterprises. We deliver mail under contract with the U.S. Postal Service. Over the years we have had a number of Alpha enterprises, such as construction contracting, custom tractor work, and farm-based businesses, including commercial dahlia raising, cut flower and mail-order tuber sales.
Expressions of spirit at Alpha have covered a wide range: Quaker meetings, yoga, drum circles, Sufi dancing, shared readings and discussion from different traditions, and celebration of Earth-centered, Jewish and Christian holidays. Over time we find that spirituality has become more implicit than explicit at Alpha. We speak of spirit less than we did in Alpha’s early days. Yet it still is clearly present among us – in the holding of hands before dinner, in a moment of silence before meeting, in the way we seek to treat each other. One might say that our group “spiritual practice” is actually to express, moment to moment in our work and our relations with others, qualities of cooperation, respect, nurturance and helpfulness.