Re: Farm Oriented Cohousing
From: Michael Mariner (
Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 18:50:13 -0500
Bill Hartzell

>The questions for the coho-l are; Is anyone aware of  an existing coho
>community that operates a farm or is closely linked to one, or are we
>plowing (so to speak) new ground?  

We at San Juan Cohousing (see info in signature below) are seriously 
considering using some of our land for farming -- for our own produce as 
well as a CSA farm.  One member couple has agricultural experience.  We 
are just now on the threshold of exercising our purchase option and if 
all goes well we will be moved in by next summer at this time.  The land 
has good irrigation rights which is critical out here in the arrid West 
(near Durango, CO)

A friend living at Nyland Cohousing says they just agreed to some land 
use planning which includes more extensive gardening and possibly even on 
a CSA farm on the 20 (or so) acres that have been lying fallow since they 
moved in.  Water rights at Nyland are very limiting to full-blown 
farming, I believe.

Of course, there's Ecovillage Ithaca that includes cohousing 
neighborhoods, agriculture, business, etc.

>What are the general thoughts about a
>coho community that moves beyond just living and eating together and
>provides the opportunity to physically work together?

I feel strongly that cohousing could and should evolve to include other 
kinds of cooperative endeavors. As Bill mentioned, if we're concerned 
with sustainability, then we have to be concerned about our food supplies 
and the more we grow through gardens, edible landscaping or serious 
farming, the less we have to transport in. 

I advocate cohousing neighborhoods that don't have resources (land, 
water, etc.) to do their own farming to become members of nearby CSA 
farms -- this can be a large step toward sustainability on several levels.

As a long-term social transformation, I feel more folks moving to rural 
areas (such as those that were virtually abandoned because of mechanized 
factory farms) will solve several social problems.  More labor to grow 
crops more organically, less crowded cities, more people feeling 
connected to the natural environment, etc. 

Katie McCamant has argued that communities that come together around a 
specific economic endeavor should not be called "cohousing" but are some 
other kind of intentional community. (See for a list of 
communities of all kinds.) I agree that cohousing should be open and 
inclusive -- not limited to members of some ideology, but I feel shared 
economic endeavors can transform cohousing from a "nice" idea to a 
"compelling" idea for folks who would otherwise not get involved.  

I say, go for it and call yourselves "cohousing" if you want to!  Pretty 
sure there are other cohousing groups involved with agriculture as well.

Mike Mariner

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San Juan Cohousing near Durango, CO, where we're looking for a few more 
good folks.  Check us out at

                      KEY COMMUNITY RESOURCES:

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