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Birthing From Within Workshop @ The Farm Commune | Mother Rising

Birthing From Within Workshop @ The Farm Commune

I was privileged to visit The Farm Commune in Summertown, TN to attend an introductory Birthing From Within workshop. This trip was very fun for two reasons:
 1) I’m saw Ina May’s Farm! If you have ever read Spiritual Midwifery, or Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth you know what I’m talking about. The Farm is a midwifery/natural birth mecca and a well known hippie commune. It was so fun to see the commune in action (how many people can say that they’ve visited a hippie commune, huh?).

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2) I’m starting the journey towards becoming a Birthing From Within (BFW) certified doula and mentor. Birthing From Within has an extraordinary perspective as it guides parents to inner preparation to parenthood. It helps mothers discover what it is they need to know to give birth as a MOTHER instead of as a paraprofessional. It is a multi-sensory approach to learning where birth art, journaling, and singing are the norm.


Fun Facts About The Farm Commune

Here are some facts I learned while planning my trip to the Birthing From Within workshop:

  • The gates to The Farm open and close at 7am/7pm.
  • Camping at The Farm will save money on lodging. Most cabins are booked because there are lots of pregnant women hanging around waiting to go into labor.
  • Camping is super cheap, but it’ll be May in TN. Bugs, heat and rain are likely.
  • I ate lunch and dinner made by The Farm Commune cooks. We ate vegan and vegetarian food.

When I entered Tennessee and started the journey into the country I immediately fell in love with the land. Everything was green, the hills stretched far into the horizon, the people had a thick twangy accent, and the air smelled fresh. I felt at home immediately.

Pictures From The Farm Commune

Here are some pictures from the farm.

This is the welcome sign you see when you first get to The Farm. Notice the colorful swing set in the background. Peace.

This is a copy of the map we were given. Sorry, it’s a bit blurry.

The Farm is huge. It has over 1,000 acres of land and it’s just that – beautiful land. When you arrive you see open fields and lots of woods. Here and there you will find homes nestled in the woods or out in the open in a field.

There wasn’t a parade of hippies in tie-dyes, and I didn’t seen anybody living in a bus. The Farm seemed quite normal actually. The residents are super nice people who can grow vegetables amazingly well. Actually, they describe themselves as “a spiritual community based on the principles of nonviolence and respect for the earth”.

I won’t explain The Farm more than that… because if you’re actually reading this you probably already know what The Farm IS anyways (if you don’t, read Spiritual Midwiferyor Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and you’ll figure it out).

Unfortunately, I don’t have many land pictures from The Farm. I guess I was too busy at the workshop or wanting to sleep!

This photo above was taken on a lunch break. I was taking a quick walk while on the phone with my husband. I was trying to describe the scene to him… and this is what I said. The sky was filled with ominous clouds. The breeze was cool and refreshing.

I was walking down a paved road, away from the workshop – towards the main road. On both sides of the road were grass fields enclosed by woods. Across the street in front of me was a pasture with woods beyond that.

While talking to Matt it started to rain. Much to my good fortune there was a random shack thingy, which kept me and my phone dry.

My original plan was to go to The Farm with my husband and son and camp, however, Gabriel got sick and we decided that wouldn’t be a good idea – especially since it was planning to rain that weekend.

My lovely friend, Stephanie, generously offered some of her frozen breast milk so I could leave Gabriel and not worry about what he would eat. What a blessing that was!

Anyways, my point here is that this turned into a weekend getaway for myself. I quickly realized that I was going to get some gooooooood sleep this weekend – AFTER I got there.

Thursday night at 8:30 pm I left my house and started driving to Tennessee. By myself. At night. I stopped twice to try to sleep some – and don’t worry, I didn’t talk to any strangers. I mostly glared at them so they would fear me. Ha!

I arrived in Tennessee in the we hours of the morning. I stopped at the local Walmart and changed, brushed my teeth and washed my face. After that, I ventured West towards Summertown, TN. After a couple wrong turns I FINALLY found The Farm.

I arrived at 8:30 – just in time to scarf down my first vegan breakfast. I can’t even remember what I ate – I was so hungry, so tired… and just relieved to not be in the car. At 9 am we checked in and at 9:30 we started our workshop.

Pictures from the Farm: Here’s there community center room.

Pictures of The Farm Commune’s Ecovillage

Other than being at a Birthing From Within workshop, and oh, being at The Farm Commune, the coolest thing about my trip was staying at the Ecovillage.

There were so many things to look at – like a solar shower, composting toilet, gardens, chickens, vegetables, herbs, vehicles, buildings and more! The Ecovillage was a hostel type place to stay – think college dorm. I shared a room with 6-8 other women and there were many more in the house.

This was the house we stayed in. It was very cozy! The kitchen was the center of it – if you wanted to have a chat, that was the place to be.

All the women in this photo were at the workshop except for Mary. Mary is the mother of this house. She made sure we all followed the rules. I think she’s in charge of the apprentices that come to the ecovillage. Anyways, she seemed pretty nice.

This pretty building housed the solar shower AND the composting toilet. It was made of cedar and during the hot day you could smell the wonderful aroma of the wood. LOVED that. The shower is on the right and the toilet is up the stairs on the left. I didn’t go in there because a sign said to only go in there if you HAVE to (compost) because of odors. I heeded their warning.

Here is some sort of earthworm container/composting thingy. The Farm residents are REALLY into having good, fertile soil. They even teach composting at their school for children (a later post).

Here is the greenhouse type building. I really liked the roof – it has grass and moss growing on it and it looks like it’s going to cave in at any moment. The door caught my eye:

I liked being outdoors among plants and right beside it was art with bold colors.

Do you see the label on that jar????

Here’s the gate to the garden. All Farm gardens are gated. All Farm gardens kick arse. I think planting/growing with the moon has something to do with it. And composting. And garden gates.

A storage shed:

This is a random building on the ecovillage site. Apparently, it’s been a work in progress for the last ten years. The windows up top look like they came from buses.

The inside is pretty cool. It is a dirt floor and the walls look like a mixture of straw and clay or something. Surprisingly, the building has electricity in it.

There is a cool dragon on the top by the windows. See it?

The Farm Commune Children’s School

One of the most interesting things about The Farm was the children’s school. I saw a few children there on Friday, but like most schools, nobody was there on the weekend. The building was locked, so I couldn’t explore, but the following are some photos I took which said a lot about what they teach and what is important to The Farm.I forgot to take a picture of the actual building from afar, but to the left of the school was this. I’m not sure what this is, but it’s pretty!

A closer look.
This is the main hall and the classrooms are on the left and right.

The view from the other side of the hall.

Here is where they teach composting to the youngins. These kids know how to make GOOD soil.

Near the composting area are some cool hangouts with lovely wall art.
The Farm Midwifery ClinicI had the wonderful privilege of exploring The Farm’s midwifery clinic after hours. The organizer of the workshop, Jennifer, just happened to be an apprentice midwife at The Farm. After dinner one evening she offered to give a tour of the clinic. “Yes, please!”

Here is a picture of all of us waiting outside while Jennifer located the key.

Here is the waiting room area. Apparently the waiting room has just been remodeled AND they put up new tie dyes. The old ones were up there since its inception. Speaking of old stuff, they have this storage room at the clinic that is like a museum of The Farm. I hope they don’t throw anything away! They could seriously make a museum. Anyways…

Here is one of the clinic rooms. It looks quite normal but with some added Farm flare.

I like the photos and art.

This is proof that The Farm has modern technology.

This is the bathroom where the mommas weigh themselves and provide a urine sample. Yes, I took a photo of The Farm Midwifery Clinic’s toilet.

The midwife’s kitchen. Imagine what fun conversations happen here??!!

Here’s an office. I’d like to believe it’s Ina May’s. It probably is. Seriously. Or Pamela’s.

The End. For all the birth junkies who are reading this, please wipe the drool from your face.




Monday 26th of April 2010

love the blog, love the post, love that you are going deep with BFW!!