This book tells the story of Montague Farm, an early back-to-the land communal experiment in western Massachusetts, from its beginning in 1968 through the following thirty-five years of its surprisingly long life. Drawing on his own experience as a resident of the farm from 1969 to 1973 and decades of contact with the farm's extended family, Tom Fels provides an insightful account of the history of this iconic alternative community. He follows its trajectory from its heady early days as a pioneering outpost of the counterculture through many years of change, including a period of renewed political activism and, later, increasing episodes of conflict between opposing factions to determine what the farm represented and who would control its destiny.
With deft individual portraits, Fels reveals the social dynamics of the group and explores the ongoing difficulties faced by a commune that was founded in idealism and sought to operate on the model of a leaderless democracy. He draws on a large body of farm-family and 1960s-related writing and the notes of community members to present a variety of points of view. The result is an absorbing narrative that chronicles the positive aspects of Montague Farm while documenting the many challenges and disruptions that marked its history.
About the Author
Tom Felsa four years on a communal farm provide the background for "Farm Friends". Following these years (1969-73) he spent five years as a college administrator before becoming a full time curator and writer. Some of his many exhibitions have been presented at the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in California. His most recent book was nominated for the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award, the Philip Johnson Award, and the Wittenborn Memorial Award. Named a fellow of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and of the Huntington Library, he is the founder of the Famous Long Ago Archive at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, which focuses on the extended family introduced in "Farm Friends". He lives with his wife in North Bennington, Vermont.
Daniel Aaron is Victor S. Thomas Professor of English and American Literature, Emeritus, Harvard University.