The basic concept of the Free Farm is that it is an alternative and a refuge from the complex web of financial entanglements that comprises the daily reality for most individuals at the present time. At the Free Farm, one's account is expected to be kept current and in balance -- everyone contributes as they can, and everyone's needs are met. Like the kibbutz in Israel, it is the Community that defines the financial unit, not the individual. This pattern allows for a much more efficient arrangement of resources, as advantages of scale are realized quickly, even by very small communities.
This is not a new idea, and communities have formed along these lines from time to time, but they frequently fail, and one of the main reasons for their failure is an inadequate consideration for the operation of the principle of authority. There may be a desire to dispense with the services of any authority, but it is not possible to eliminate the problem of authority by fiat. To set up a community with no other recourse to authority but the consensus of the current members is to abdicate the responsibility of leadership and leave the community vulnerable to dissension.
Our solution to this problem at the Church of the Living Tree is to make a distinction between the Stewards, who share the responsibility for the land, and the Volunteers, who do not. The stewards are the core group who have a long term commitment to the land, while the volunteers come as guests, and may or may not have more than a temporary interest in the land. After some period of time and demonstration of commitment a volunteer may be invited to be a steward.
Projects of the Church of the Living Tree are operated by stewards and volunteers who do not pay rent or receive wages. At the present time we only have a couple of locations with limited facilities for volunteers, but we hope to increase the number and capacity of locations where volunteers can come and work for the Trees.
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