Dear Vegan Views,
For many years now I have been reading letters and articles in the food reform magazines asking for money, land, property or anything else one has, to start some new "Back to the Land" project. These grandiose schemes are most praiseworthy and vibrant with potential but few of them get started for the simple reason that they all lack the one thing they abhor - money. Money, we must remember, is a convenient way to barter and is not necessarily evil. It is the acquisition of money far beyond one's needs that brings the commodity into disrepute but, vegans and the like, both by their attitude and lifestyle, are not likely to be tycoons or in the higher money bracket, let us consider a more practical venture for the fulfilment of our dreams, a way that offers unlimited scope for a modest outlay.
Have you ever, you dreamers of dreams, realised the unlimited scope, compatible with our way of life, that could be achieved by starting a Garden Centre? These seem to be few and far between and those that I visit certainly do a flourishing trade. Comparatively little capital would be needed for, providing you have transport and a retailer's billhead, all stock such as seedlings, plants, bushes, fruit trees, garden equipment, etc. can be bought from the experts in their particular field. Knowledge would be acquired as one progressed. Buy or rent the area of land you can afford, then "set up shop" and with virtually everyone owning cars, I cannot see distance presenting any obstacle. Not only is the trade compatible with our way of life, but profitable activities such as pottery, basket making, garden furniture, etc. are unlimited, and do bear in mind that a constant source of cash will be an essential prop for the project well into the future. Many years ago my brother joined a similar Catholic scheme - money was out! Fifty years on and virtually all the men have 'outside' jobs. Society is so money orientated that to be totally self-supporting in a money free commune is wishful thinking. Aim to live on a minimum of cash yes, but don't yearn for the impossible.
It is safer to walk the earth humbly with our feet planted firmly on the ground than to spend our time reaching up to the immortals; for the Land teaches us wisdom and Nature continually reveals her miracles.
But, to repeat, the aspiration to start such a commune is most praiseworthy. It is putting into a tangible form the ideals of such institutions as The Vegan Society, The Vegetarian Society, Men of the Trees, The Fruitarian Network. It is no less an aim than to return the inhabitants of the Planet to whence they came - Eden.
Well may it prosper!