Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Search for Farmland in Seattle area

Since the first Ananda Community was established in 1967 in Nevada County, California, organic farming has been a part of community life. This is common to probably most intentional communities formed at that time and ever since. Farming is always difficult work, a definite science, and an art form whose canvas is Mother Nature and whose secrets are forever elusive. While the essence of the worldwide network of Ananda Communities is to create a supportive environment for spiritual growth through meditation and service, gardening and farming as a part of intentional community is seriously relevant to our age and reflects the need to develop a new and sustainable lifestyle.

We, the post-World War II generation, have grown up amidst relative prosperity and security and, more than that, in a bubble of excess consumption and detachment from the realities of nature and natural living. Hence, in the Sixties as this generation began to come of age there were some who rebelled against the "plastic" culture in which we lived. But our timing was premature. Several more decades of living "high" were yet to come. Now the compelling need to find a more sustainable lifestyle not only looms large but threatens ominously the culture of galloping consumption (and debt) and the health and safety of life on this planet.

At the urging of Ananda's founder, Swami Kriyananda, a renewed emphasis on farming has inspired a re-dedication to organic farming in the Ananda Communities worldwide. Ananda's community in Lynnwood (north of Seattle, WA) is no exception. Two years ago, a subscriber supported farming cooperative (CSA) was begun in the Community. Now we are looking for additional acreage (perhaps five net farmable acres) not too far from Lynnwood in order to expand.

Such property can provide housing, education, and training, as well as be the base of operations for a larger and more effective small-scale family type farm. We are thinking that those who can support this by purchasing the land obtain the twin benefits of a sensible investment in farm land with the support of small-scale, local organic farms. While we don't anticipate a "profit" for the owners of the land from farming operations, their investment should be a form of capital preservation in the face of the strong possibility of several years or more of severe financial instability and risk combined with little or no investment return from traditional sources. Whether hyper-inflation or deflation, everyone eats food and farmland near a major metropolitan area should hold its own relative value (if not, in fact, gain in value).

The farming co-op, meantime, can use, maintain, and improve the land and property and would cover all costs of holding the property (taxes, e.g.). In time, and as individual owners need to liquidate their investment, we would expect there would be others who would be willing to replace them at a fair price.

This arrangement would no doubt be altered under different economic conditions but for now it seems a fair exchange. We already have pledges of investments greater than a normal down payment but insofar as we do not want to acquire property with a mortgage or debt, we are still looking for others to participate. If this would interest you and you would like more information, please let me know!

A new paradigm of cooperative living (that includes investing) needs to emerge. Making money by tossing ones and zeroes into the Wall Street and Big Bank gambling casino is no way to create a sustainable lifestyle and a planet fit for habitation. The real return on investment should be the satisfaction and universal return of support that flows naturally from one's own creative and energetic commitment to high ideals, whether through investing, creativity, or participation in serviceful and useful endeavors. Our culture needs to regain our how-to-live skills, fulfilling the proper needs of body, mind, and spirit through self-effort, savings, cooperation, creativity, natural living, and love for God and the divine essence of all life.


Nayaswami Hriman