Live Power Community Farm

Photographs by Kitra Cahana and Text by Olivier Guez

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An excerpt of the text and translated into English:

I’m slowly driving along. Two dogs spring up at a detour with motorcycle debris and the remainder of a rusted trailer. I go back to the paved road. Then make a U-turn because I realize that this is the farm I’ve been looking for, for hours: The Live Power community at 25451 East Lane, Covelo, California.

A fellow in a plaid shirt is waiting for me on the porch. Stephen Decater vigorously shakes my hand. With the sun fully shining, we sit around a long table and his wife soon joins us. Gloria is wearing shorts and is barefooted with her gray hair a little messed up. The big dogs roam around us, chickens are strolling along under the table.

I tell them that my trip took 25 hours, that U.S. Airways lost my luggage, that I haven’t slept all night and that I think it’s really, really hot. I’m wishing for a glass of water but dare not ask because I don’t want to interrupt them: Stephen and Gloria are talking about their farm, their horses being used like tractors, their vegetables, their valley where GMOs are banned, their three sons of whom they are proud and their two dogs, supposedly very nice according to them. I’m listening through only one ear and thinking mainly of finding a shady spot. Not a chance: Stephen then suggests that I visit all 16 acres of the farm.

We first meet Elijah with whom I am getting ready to heartily shake hands with and I notice that his right arm ends in a stub. Lou the carpenter is working right outside the barn; a force of nature with a huge red chest showing an impressive scar. We then approach a small group of straw hats. Bathed in sweat, they dig the earth, silent and focused. Stephen suggests I help them out. I politely decline. My head is spinning.

An apparently freshly-popular movement in the US at this time of crisis, the American branch of Wwoof, the World Wide Opportunities for Organic Farms, a network of organic farms that places volunteers around the world, had heartily recommended the Live Power community as a "very special and bio-dynamic location". Knowing only recently that turnips actually don’t grow on trees, I went on with curiosity, a little sarcasm, and lightheartedness. "A summer with Wwoofs", the title was already well set up for this long-term experience and account.

On the Mickey Mouse-stained bed sheet of the narrow bed I lay on, I’m no longer laughing. The heat is unbearable and I wait for, to no avail, for a breeze to move the useless curtains hanging behind the mosquito netting. My laptop is not picking up any signal, the ground is dusty and the deafening noise from Lou’s saw is turning my thoughts towards the dark side. Not falling asleep, I get better acquainted with Gloria.

"Stephen and I were both helpers to Alan Chadwick, a famous English gardener here in Covelo. We met in 1977 and Steven was already working at this farm. We gradually developed the farm and purchased it in the 1990s. Chadwick taught bio-dynamics to Stephen, according to the principles of Rudolf Steiner: any farm is a living organism, the most diverse and independent."

For reasons not necessarily so editorial, I hope that Gloria and Stephen had troubled childhoods in California. That he was a supporter of the Black Panthers or a former Hell’s Angel, now changed within the bio-dynamic spinach to absolve his sins, that she knew Charles Manson, or better yet, had an affair with one of the Doors, Ray Manzarek preferably. She wasn’t part of any of the afore-mentioned- at twenty years of age, they were both nature buffs. Were they former hippies then? Not at all. If they were sharing their ideals of man’s return to the land, they certainly had no sympathy, none whatsoever, she insists, for drugs. It is now 7:00 PM and the bell that sounds the end of the day puts an end to this strange conversation.

Apprentices exclusively have dinner at the Eel River. I find Elijah, Mike, a small bearded but sturdy veteran of the U.S. Navy – from the Kosovo war - who plays the guitar, and Kim, his girlfriend, 27, with pink calves and white thighs. She graduated from Yale in Hispanic literature and has also "wwoofed" in Argentina, "It made me think about my lifestyle and my relationship to nature", she goes on to say.

There are 46 color images in the whole text and available upon request. To syndicate the text, please contact the writer, Olivier Guez at