In December of 2014, my family went to Virginia for Christmas. While we were there we visited both the Twin Oaks and Acorn intentional communities.
The original intent had been to just visit Twin Oaks. But when we got there, the host I had been in contact with mentioned there was a panel at Acorn, which was right down the road. Did we want to come? Uh, yes!
Acorn was not hard to find, and was quite inviting. I was nervous upon arriving and our host hadn’t arrived yet. I wanted a guide. If someone I didn’t know started wandering around my property I know I’d be asking questions. So the first thing we did was find the office in the main building. After some quick texts, we found someone to show us around. She was very helpful and informative, and gave us a brief tour of the facilities. We sat in the smoke house for a bit, getting to know a few other people. It wasn’t until after leaving Acorn that I really had the opportunity to check out their website. They describe themselves rather well in their masthead:
An egalitarian, income-sharing, secular, anarchist, feminist, consensus-based intentional community. Supporting radical sharing, positive communication, compassion, consent culture, sustainability, and anti-oppression activism. Living free of hierarchy and coercion.
Given our short visit, I would say that this is reflected well in the lifestyle and feel of the community. Acorn is a chill place. A large majority of the people who we saw were in their twenties. There was one child that was young. Both myself and Julia felt that it was the kind of place where if we were in our twenties, it would be a slice of heaven and a perfect fit. It felt a little like dorm living, but without the university element. I guess like dorm living in the woods on a farm? There were several main buildings that were inconspicuous in their outer appearance and quite nice on the inside. People had individual rooms, but shared bathrooms, kitchens and living space. The living quarters were rather large, all things considered.
Egalitarian, the community is open and people look you in the eyes. The vibe was very positive and people like to share. Julia and I found this warm and welcoming. It really helps it to feel like a large, extended family. There is an easy, mutual respect among members and a culture of personal responsibility is encouraged. So it has a real relaxed, share the love vibe. The community lives its values in the outer world too, which means that Acorn is involved with its neighbors and is not disconnected. They are are a good neighbor in their local community with strong relationships with other farms and intentional communities in the Virginia area. However, if one were living in the community and really wanted to not think about the outside world, preferring to concentrate on the immediate sphere, it would be possible at the individual level. It’s not only possible, but easy to live at Acorn without outside world stresses.
Acorn, like many intentional communities (ecovillages), has a cooperative business at its core that people work for that subsequently supports it’s workers living expenses. For Acorn that business is the Southern Exposure Seed Farm. As far as living expenses go, there aren’t many. A local coop provides clothes. The community owns the buildings in a coop. Food is grown or brought in from neighboring farms.
One of the treasures we found were a number of treehouses in the woods. These were built big enough and sturdy enough that someone could sleep overnight. This was real cool, and I could see myself bunking for a few nights.
Another treasure was a hammock strung up next to a pond. Imagining laying curled up in the hammock looking at a universe above reflected below just took my breath away.
While it was child-friendly, for Julia and I it wasn’t quite what we wanted for our little guy. We discovered we wanted something that was structured a little differently. We wanted older people, and other parents. So while we greatly enjoyed our time at Acorn, but it wasn’t for us.