Site menu:

Email Updates

Links:

Slideshow

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.

Site search

Who We Are and What We Are About

Acorn Community Farm is an anarchist, secular, egalitarian community of about 35 people founded in 1993. We are committed to non-coercive, voluntary associations based in respect & consideration for others both within our community as well as within the larger community in which we find ourselves. We are also committed to income-sharing, sustainable and modest living. Being secular community folks are free to believe whatever they want. Also we are intolerant of intolerance.
-
We are members of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, which means that we hold in common our land, labor, resources, and income, and that we use this for the good of our community as a whole as well as our members as individuals. We make sure everyone has healthy food, decent shelter and full health, dental and vision care; as well as all other basic amenities with some luxuries.
-
Being a thriving anarchist, farm-based community (and consequently not having any owners, bosses, supervisors, schedules or time sheets) we are necessarily committed to a culture of personal responsibility; effective and healthy communication; and being serious about getting done what needs to get done on our farm. 
-
We enjoy the work that we do because it is our livelihood and occupation (that which provides us with healthy, cruelty & exploitation free food that we grow and nurture together; as well as our shelter which we build together) rather than a job which has no meaningful connection to that which we truly value in life and only provides money to buy things which we have no insight into from people we don't know or have any connection to.   That difference is the difference between making a living and making a life. 
-
We thrive because we choose folks who understand this difference and seek to live the difference.  We choose folks who are excited about and derive pleasure and meaning from doing the things that need to get done in a farm based community, rather than choosing folks who discharge their minimum responsibilities on the farm, which they are not really into and then pursue other activities which they really prefer to do.  If you understand the deep gratification that comes from living and meaningfully participating in a fully integrated life close to the land, you understand why we don't need any supervisors or managers. But its not all about work at Acorn.  We are also committed to having a Fun (with a capital F), enriching, stimulating social environment (its actually a budgeted item).
-
In keeping with the ethos of living one's values, we own and operate an heirloom and organic seed business, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE) southernexposure.com which is very successful and growing rapidly.  We are very proud of and deeply satisfied with our business and livelihood because SESE is part of an exciting movement and growing network of farmers, gardeners and seed savers dedicated to organic and heritage agriculture; as well as independence & freedom from the genetically modified, toxically processed, governmentally propagandized & enforced, corporately delivered “food” paradigm.
-
In addition to supporting us, SESE is also our engine of community. We intend to have our little corner of the world have the most income sharing communities in the world. In pursuit of that SESE supports newly formed Living Energy Farm (“LEF”) (www.livingenergyfarm.org ) with outright cash grants, unlimited creditable labor from Acorn members; as well as providing income by purchasing seeds which conform to SESE Standards. Additionally, Acorn has recently (2014) formed a new community called Sapling ((www.saplingcommunity.org) just down the road from us, populated it with Acornistas and provides support to it similar to the support given LEF. We are truly walking the walk!
-
We are looking for folks to live and grow with us. Folks who share our vision of a vibrant, supportive, environmentally appropriate, self-sufficient community and have skills that are helpful in getting us to where we want to get to. Skills such as: vehicle & farm implement maintenance, repair & construction of our infrastructure, agriculture, livestock care, IT, business management, customer service, healthy cooking, seed saving, organic gardening. Or if you lack specific skills but just like to work hard, get things done, and are willing to learn and take on responsibility, we would like to talk to you, so call us and schedule a visit.
-
Remember, this stuff is hard! Living and working together, trying to have fun while we run our business, making decisions together and sharing income, are all challenging every day. So in addition to the above mentioned skills, we are interested in meeting people experienced in community-building, communication and facilitation, who are interested in building a healthy, dynamic, supportive social culture.
-
If you are interested in visiting us, interning in our seed business and garden or in other areas of our farm based livelihood, e-mail us at acorncommunity@gmail.com for more information.

Chicken Tractor

by Jason Loyd

Joel Salatin is the self-proclaimed “lunatic farmer” who has been struggling against industrial farming methods and the government regulations which favor them to create a set of holistic agricultural practices.  Inspired by his pasture raised chicken system, we’ve been raising our broilers in so-called chicken tractors.  The basic idea is a bottomless moveable coop that gives the chickens access to fresh greens and bugs, while their waste returns nutrients to the soil. This is the second of this kind of tractor we have built, and we have improved on the design in several ways.

Here is the frame that we built.  The dimensions of the tractor are 8’ X 8’ X 2’. For materials we went with 2”X2” lumber, partly because we had a bunch lying around, but also because it will result in a very light frame that will be easy to pull around.

IMAG0120

 

IMAG0131  The triangly corner bits are made out of plywood, and serve to provide cross bracing, as well as  increased surface area to screw things together.

IMAG0121

“Triangly corner bits” is the technical term

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hatch doors were built in place to assure a good fit.  The pieces were cut and clamped in place with some shim material to leave a gap with the frame, then the cross bracing corner pieces were screwed on from underneath. We went with hatches on opposing corners to give us greater access when it comes time to get the chickens out of the tractor. With two hatches on the same side they have a tendency to hide in the back.IMAG0123

 

We also installed some support pieces in each quadrant to prevent pooling of water.IMAG0133

 

The feeder hangs from the hatch in such a way that opening it raises the feeder out of the tractor.  This allows us to move the tractor without removing the feeder. An additional benefit is that we can pour the feed in without having to contend with a chicken feeding frenzy.IMAG0134

 

The waterer is a bucket with 6 horizontal chicken nipples screwed into it.  We’ve found this setup to be vastly superior to any other watering system.  It’s simple, effective, and low maintenance.  The horizontal nipples do not have the leaking issues that the vertical ones are known for. The bucket rests on support beams and is attached to the side of the tractor with a bungee cord, again allowing us to move the tractor without needing to remove it. We also installed a piece that the hatch can be propped up with to allow one person to refill the water on their own.

IMAG0136IMAG0129

 

 

 

 

IMAG0126

 

 

 

 

 

Instead of using a hand truck to move the tractor like some designs call for, we opted to install wheels on the back.  The frame lays flat on the ground when not in motion, but when the front is raised up to pull the tractor, the back also raises up several inches, to prevent slow chickens from getting their feet caught under it.IMAG0125

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the final result. We used EPDM (pond liner) instead of sheet metal for the covered sections because it is lighter, easier to work with, weather-proof, and again we had a bunch lying around. The back half is completely covered to provide shelter from wind, rain, and sun. The front half is mostly open to allow for good ventilation and access to the sun, and it is covered with chicken wire.

IMAG0137

 

And here are the chickens, checking out their new digs.IMAG0148

 

 

 

Puffballs

by BB

our insulation crew removes puffballs of insulation that expanded out of cracks that were filled.

End of the day where our crack insulation crew proudly displays the puffballs of insulation that they removed from our new building. The puffballs happen when expanding insulating foam is squirted into voids.

IT’S FRIDAY @ 5:01pm

by BB

dragball

Land Day Celebration 2014

by BB

Our annual Land Day Celebration was much fun. The weather was very cooperative, the food & drink were delish, the guests were delightful, the music (with not 1 but 2! very rockin’ bands) was fabulous.  Some pics of the day are below. Thanks to all who made it possible.

the party monster stage

the party monster stage ready to go day before the big event

 

Acornistas Mardock & Belladonna Doing a Duet

Acornistas Mardock & Belladonna Doing a Duet

 

the crowd gettin into it

the crowd gettin into it

Acornistas & Oakers perform as The All Request Dance Band

Acornistas & Oakers perform as The All Request Dance Band

 

River & Finley enjoying the music

River & Finley enjoying the music

acorn_01

The view from the 2nd story deck of the Seed Palace

The view from the 2nd story deck of the Seed Palace (the pile of loose material is for the to be living roof)

BBQ!

BBQ!

 

our little calf (Pandora Midfield Fieldmouse Skeeter Acorn) wandered onto the dance floor to check out the TAPL (totally awesome party light)

As twilight approaches, the dance floor lights begin to make their presence known. Our little calf (Pandora Midfield Fieldmouse Skeeter Acorn) wanders onto the dance floor to check out the TAPL (totally awesome party light)

 

OK. Now that its dark the dance floor lights are really showing their stuff!

OK. Now that its dark the dance floor lights are really showing their stuff!

some folks did dress-up for ambiance enhancement

some folks did dress-up for ambiance enhancement

 

Acornista Samantha

Acornista Samantha

When the night arrives its time for the bonfire

When the night arrives its time for the bonfire

 

our bonfire

our bonfire

 

 

The world famous Acorn Goat Circus performing death defying acts of goatness

The world famous Acorn Goat Circus (>featuring select members of the Independent Goat Nation of Acorn<) performing death defying acts of goatness

 

Acornistas Dragon & Luna

Acornistas Dragon & Luna

 

Visitor Grace & our newest kid

Visitor Grace & our newest kid (and youngest member of the Goat Circus)

East Wind to the Rescue – Thank you !

by BB

(Editor’s note: This is a repost from Paxus’s blog. Check it out  http://funologist.org/ )

————–

Part of what is exciting about living in the central Virginia communities these days is the network is actually growing.  After almost two decades of there being only two income sharing communities in the region (Twin Oaks and Acorn), three years back Living Energy Farm popped up nearby.  Last week Acorn moved members into Sapling (aka Tranquility Base) which is the house we bought in late August. It is starting out as a simple residence for Acorn, but we have already agreed that it will ultimately become a new income sharing community.

Part of what is so exciting about this is that often times communards don’t find the right community to start with.  Sometimes this is resolved relatively quickly, like with my dear friend Belladonna Took who was rejected by Twin Oaks and is now a happy member of Acorn (she is referred to as Abby in this post   http://funologist.org/2013/01/24/pocket-dramas/ about her rejection).  Other times it takes one or more memberships at “the wrong community” before the person finds their place.  With three, soon to be four affiliated but independent communities all in the same county there are lots of possibilities for synergy including clever membership solutions.  [And a more fertile soil for my own Chubby Squirrels dreams.]

belladonna-took-at-acorn
~Belladonna Took was a bit too wild for Twin Oaks, but                                                   fits perfectly at Acorn~

Communities have their own personalities.  Twin Oaks is what i call a clockwork community, where there is a more regular procedure for things to happen.  Hundreds of work shifts are scheduled, meals show up on time and reliably, you better not be late for your tofu shift – because people are depending on you.  Acorn is somewhat more chaotic.  Things happen when people get inspired to make them happen, very little is scheduled (small dozens of jobs, mostly related to cooking and cleaning, contrasted with hundreds to perhaps a thousand jobs weekly at Twin Oaks).

East Wind is a thousand miles away in the Ozarks of Missouri and i have always thought of it as the “wild wild west of the communities movement” (despite there being important income sharing communities further geographically west).  East Wind is physically more rugged, without indoor plumbing in many buildings and more demanding physical work than Twin Oaks (but not Living Energy Farm).  East Wind has huge tracks of beautiful land, over 1000 acres that they control and neighboring state parks which are even larger.  Their decision making system is a strange anarchist-democratic model which is more flexible and volatile that either Acorns or Twin Oaks.

But what has inspired this post is a cultural difference between East Wind and all her sister communities, in my never humble opinion.  East Wind is the community you can depend on if you are in a jam.  East Wind will send out a group of members to help out almost any of the FEC communities when they really need it.  Got a sorghum harvest beyond your capacity?  East Wind will send a van load of people. Need some willing kids to help with a barn raising?  East Winders are there. Arsonist burns one of your buildings?  East Wind can be relied upon to dispatch a crew, even if it is a thousand miles away.

It is this generosity of spirit and willingness to help that makes me (and the rest of Acorn) especially happy to welcome the 7 East Winders who traveled far to help out with the fire recovery, straw bale work and dozens of other tasks we need help with going into winter and the busy season.  Viva East Wind!

 

east winders help destruct heartwood

~East Winders help tear out the damged floor in Heartwood at Acorn~

Winter gardening and baby goats

by Rejoice

And now, for a happy blog post about how awesome our winter is going this year.  Our busy season for Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is kicking in, but there’s plenty of outdoor things to do. Because of a hard freeze on Jan. 7th, we had to cover the gardens with double layers of remay and harvest anything that we hoped to have in the future. Fingers crossed on how well our plants survived the freeze.

Dragon harvests some winter kale.

Dragon harvests some winter kale.

Luna harvests carrots from our winter garden.

Luna harvests carrots from our winter garden.

On January 6th, we harvested kale, collards, mustard greens, arugula, beets, and carrots (not pictured).

On January 6th, we harvested kale, collards, mustard greens, arugula, beets, and carrots (not pictured).

Our three kiko meat goats are scheduled to kid in January.  Radiator Charlie gave birth on Jan. 3rd, and Sweet Chocolate had her babies on Jan. 5th.  Despite being fat as anything, Grandma Nellie still hasn’t produced any children.  Every morning at milking time, I remind her to work on it, but she doesn’t seem to care.

Only one of our dairy goats is producing milk, but Mamma, our best producer, gives us half a gallon of milk a day.  We’re giving Lark, one of our dairy ladies, a rest because this summer she was sick for several months and still hasn’t gained back all the weight we’d hope. Lottie, Julie’s little favorite, hasn’t put on enough weight yet to breed, but Dancer, Sage, Calypso, and Beans are set to give birth in early spring, with Mamma a little later than the rest.  (We had planned on giving her a break but the buck broke into her pen…)

Lottie, the friendliest of our young goats, comes up to get chin scratches from Dragon.

Lottie, the friendliest of our young goats, comes up to get chin scratches from Dragon.  Lark hangs out in the background.

Radiator Charlie, one of our Kiko meat goats, shows off one of her two identical three-day old kids.

Radiator Charlie, one of our Kiko meat goats, shows off one of her two identical three-day old kids.

Intern Raynebo holds her garlic/ginger/roselle tea while being mobbed by the dairy herd, who hope futilely that she is carrying grain.

Intern Raynebo holds her garlic/ginger/roselle tea while being mobbed by the dairy herd, who hope futilely that she is carrying grain.  Goats from closest front to furthest back:  Dancer, Sage, Calypso, Lottie (almost hidden by Raynebo) and Lark.

Horus the black lab waits patiently at the edge of the goat fence.

Horus the black lab waits patiently at the edge of the goat fence.

Rejoice shows off Sweet Chocolate and Mr. Buckles' day-old baby.

Rejoice shows off Sweet Chocolate and Mr. Buckles’ day-old baby.

One day old, Sweet Chocolate's babies are already up, running around, and nursing well.

One day old, Sweet Chocolate’s babies are already up, running around, and nursing well.

Fire Recovery Efforts

by Darla

With yet another fire to hit us this year, this time in Heartwood, our main community building, we’re pulling together to put our infrastructure (and lives) back in order. Luckily, we are able to save the house, but need to raise money for the repairs. Please take a look at our indiegogo fundraising campaign:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/acorn-community-s-post-arson-repairs?show_todos=true

Young Farmer Mixer and Autumn Stomper Oct. 19th!!

by 0x0f0d3

finishedflyer2

 

On October 19th, local heirloom seed savers and worker-owned co-operative Southern Exposure Seed Exchange will be hosting a Young Farmer’s Mixer to facilitate an enriching community building experience, provide networking opportunities and have fun.  We want to provide young farmers and young farmer recruits with access to examples of financially viable business models for new farms, homesteading resources and land link organizations. We also want to facilitate connections between landowners who want their land in cultivation and land-less farmers.  There will be opportunity to link farmers with food justice organizations and illustrate how food justice activism can play into a small farm business.

The event will begin with a tour of Southern Exposure’s seed and trial gardens and a demonstrative seed-saving workshop.    The day will end with our second annual Fall Festival complete with dancing, home-grown music, apple folk tales, food, drink and  good spirit.  If interested, please RSVP to applefolktale@gmail.com to let us know what you’d like to bring for the potluck!”

4:00 – Tour of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange trial and seed gardens

5:00 – Seed saving demonstration

6:00 – Dinner, keynote speaker, young farmer networking session

7:30 – Apple folk tales and music from Diane Cluck

8:30 – Music and dancing and merriment!

Come mingle with landowners, food activists, local sustainable agricultural organizations (including Tricycle Gardens, Twin Oaks Seeds, Virginia Association for Biological Farming (VABF), Blue Ridge Permaculture Network) and of course, young, beginning and aspiring farmers!

From Richmond:  Take I-64W to Exit 159.  Turn right onto US-522/Cross Country Road, continue ~7 miles.  Take a left onto 629/Cartersville Rd.  Take 1st right onto 640/East Old mountain.  After ~2 miles, stay left on East Old Mountain, turn right onto 699/Indian Creek Rd.

From Charlottesville:  Take I-64E  to Exit 148.  Turn left onto 605/Shannon Hill Rd.  After 3.5 miles, take a sharp right onto  640/East Old Mountain.  Left on 699/Indian Creek Rd.
Acorn is one of the first driveways on Indian Creek Road on the left.   There is a large greenhouse at the front of the property.

 

“Bale Raising” Straw Bale Workshop

by Darla

After years of planning and a frenzied summer of building, the new seed office is finally ready for the straw bales.  In accordance with our values of providing educational opportunities for sustainable living, we’re having a “Bale Raising” Straw Bale Workshop Oct. 28th and 29th.  The workshop will be lead by green and natural building architect Fred Oesch.   Straw bale is valued for utilizing a local, non-toxic agricultural by-product in the context of building to help create highly energy efficient buildings, and it’s also very user-friendly.  Bale Raising

Food Processing: Peaches and Pineapple

by BB

canned peaches pineapple acorn community

Canned peaches and pineapple.

Recently, Acorn has had an abundance of fruit—between donations and our most recent peach harvest, we’ve had more than we’ve known what to do with! Our peaches, sadly, are diseased—peach trees don’t do well in our climate—so hours were spent cutting out the diseased parts for canning.

We also canned significant amounts of pineapple, and an experiment was made making fruit leather.

making fruit leather diy

The fruit leather being placed in the oven.

In case you are unfamiliar with canning fruit (as I was at the time), here are step by step instructions:

1. Cut them into bite-size chunks, spears, or whatever works for you. We didn’t remove the skin off of our peaches because ours were very small. Be sure to remove any bad brown bits (hopefully your peaches won’t have any!) and the pits. As you cut the peaches up, they need to be placed in water with lemon juice (any type of citric acid will do) so that they don’t turn brown while you prepare for canning.

2. Before canning, it’s important to sterilize the mason jars. Put the jars in boiling bath water for five seconds.

3. Make the canning syrup. We made ours by boiling turbinado sugar and water, although you can substitute sugar for honey.

4. Place the peaches in the mason jars, and be careful not to pack past the base of the rim. Fill with the syrup, place in boiling bath water for 25-30 minutes. This sterilizes the insides so that they keep well in the cans.

canning, peaches, acorn, community

Canned Peaches and Pineapple in boiling Bath Water

The fruit leather was a far more simple process—we pureed fruit, laid it on trays with wax paper, and baked overnight at a low temperature (150 degrees). We found it didn’t solidify enough by morning and ended up baking it until midday. The pineapple was harder to make into fruit leather because it had more water in it.

fruit leather homemade

Finished fruit leather, yum.