Sort of intro to the 12 Tribes farm.

(Just to explain, I am starting the Camino de Santiago tomorrow, and am anticipating far less internet access, so I am bombarding the blog today just in case someones want to read some stuff while I’m out walking and getting sunburned…)  The pics are a field just below the lodge, the main farmhouse, the Single Brothers Room outside and inside, and the lower field with the highway below.

In practice, the community is something like a kibbutz, if that is more familiar.  The people work together for the community in various fields from farming (which seemed to involve a surprisingly small number of people) to carpentry and installing solar panels as sub-contracted by a German firm.

The days are tightly structured, from the 6:00 AM wake-up song, the 7:00 AM and PM meetings, three communal meals followed by group clean-up, and work hours in between.  Dress is conservative for all, utilitarian and sturdy as befitting their various tasks; adult women wear long baggy cotton pants similar to pjs, with modest floral patterns, and loose blouse-like tops.

Wood stoves push out heat at either end of the large, open “lodge” which serves as meeting hall, dining room, and occasional classroom, while the kitchen takes up the eastern third.  The property came with a pool, but this is not a pool-using sort of community, so the lodge was built on top of it, and the basin below the floorboards is now used for storing agricultural equipment.

The large farmhouse stands three storeys tall opposite the lodge, living quarters, office, bathrooms and classroom inside.  Niched into the rear corner and accessed by a separate entrance is the Single Brothers’ Room, the bunk-room where I was quartered.  I suspect there is a Single Sisters’ Room, probably nestled up, protected, in the top of the main house, but the tour pointedly did not include its location.

Having a large family seems to be the one respected measure of individual success here, and smaller buildings and trailers have grown up around these two focal point buildings to house the larger family groups.  In this same ring of structures are classrooms and workshops, though the distinction is minimal, as the workshops are as likely to be used by adolescents welding a wagon frame or soldering repairs to farm equipment as an adult.

The fields and greenhouses reach out beyond, across a recently cleared creek bed on one side and down to the highway on another.  International shipping trucks speed by and insane Basque cyclists streak down the asphalt lanes without a glance up the hill to where rusty hoes clear rows between straight beds of green onions, leeks, and lettuce.  Dropping dry corn kernels and green bean seeds by hand into the ploughed rows I could look across to the commuter trains hurrying along their way, and feel glad of my place.