I recently heard that Stephen Gaskin, founder and spiritual leader of The Farm Community in Tennessee, passed away. Stephen Gaskin was also the husband of the internationally acclaimed midwife, Ina May Gaskin. As a student of midwifery and a birth educator and activist, my connection to Ina May was always strong; but my knowledge of her husband and their spiritual community was minimal.
When I saw the beautiful film “Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives,” I was touched by the sweet footage of the two of them in their home. Their tenderness with each other revealed an unspoken, deep marriage connection. This stimulated my curiosity in knowing more about Stephen Gaskin’s life and the legacy he created through his over four decades of leadership at The Farm.
I remembered that one of my colleagues, Lotus Allen, lived at The Farm for several years with her young daughter Emma. So I invited Lotus to chat with me to learn more about her experience of living there and her up-close and personal knowledge of Stephen Gaskin. Our Wise Woman Conversation is intimate and revealing, as Lotus openly shares her story, how she came to be there, and how those years have impacted her life and work now.
Living in the deep woods of The Farm introduced Lotus to a retreat lifestyle, while she cultivated her Buddhist nonviolent spiritual path. This path led to her work as a Certified Mediator with Mid South Mediation Services and as a student and teacher of Nonviolent Communication and restorative justice. She shares about her work with Plenty International (because in fairness, there is enough), a not-for-profit organization started in 1974 by Stephen Gaskin, and with one of Plenty’s important programs in support of at-risk, urban children, Kids to the Country. During this intensive growth period, she also embraces volunteerism and giftivism:
- board and committee member for the Fellowship for Intentional Community,
- apprentice and background support for Geoph Kozeny’s documentary “Visions of Utopia: Experiments in Sustainable Culture,” and
- organizer and program coordinator for Network for a New Culture.
This conversation confirms to me that women learn and grow in love and wisdom from every experience. Then they build on their acquired skills and knowledge, as Lotus has done with her developed work today as an Artist, Writer, Certified Retreat Coach, Community Leader, and Activist.If you want to be in touch with Lotus, she can be reached at her business practice Femme Fire Productions.
You can listen to our whole conversation here.
I love the below photos of sweet Emma who, her momma reports, thrived in this loving community and still revisits each year to cultivate her memories of “home”. What a great place to grow up!