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Krista's Travels

WWOOF Host #8 : Riverside Community

USA | Monday, 13 April 2009 | Views [1966] | Comments [1]

Posing with the Pumpkin/Squash harvest at Riverside Community's upper garden

Posing with the Pumpkin/Squash harvest at Riverside Community's upper garden

I spend three days at the Riverside Community, which I believe is New Zealand's oldest intentional community (commune). It was started in 1941 as a Christian pacifist community in opposition to the war. Nowadays it is non-sectarian and has about 75 members with perhaps the same again number of folks who live there as residents or long-term visitors, but who have not yet applied to be members. The community supports itself with a dairy (not organic), cafe, orchard, and mechanic shop, and has two very large organic gardens to grow produce shared by all members. All members must either work in the community or contribute their wages from an outside job. All earnings are divided up equally. (I'm sure there are exeptions for elderly, disabled, children and the rest for the work requirement). Everyone gets the same amount of money to live off of each month, regardless of their job. They also run a hostel that was full of wwoofers and travellers working offsite in nearby orchards and vineyards (the hostel is cheap and nearby to alot of farm work). I stayed in the hostel and helped out in the garden in exchange for room and some produce, joined in cooking for and eating the community lunch on my last day, and then went merrily on my way to explore Abel Tasman National Park. The community was interesting, but I didn't fall in love with it so I was ok to just have a few days there. The garden was amazing, however!

Abel Tasman is a stunning coastal park with gorgeous bays and a popular hiking track along the shoreline and another route further inland. I only spent one day there, on an all day sailing trip. It was a beautiful and calm day out at sea but unfortunately the wind was far too arctic to entice me into the calm clear water at the pristine sandy beach we lunched at. It had been quite cold that week with very cold wind, even though it was beautiful and sunny. So I eventually made my way up to Auckland to meet up with my friend Ramona (who lives in Sydney) for a week camping trip further north, where the weather (I hoped) would be warmer!

Before that, though, I did spend a few days here and there in Nelson, a great little town that has a sweet farmer's market and nice shops downtown, hiking nearby, and an overall peaceful atmosphere. It is growing too quickly, just like Bellingham, though, and the traffic is horrid during certain times of the day. The surrounding hills are being logged and expensive houses are popping up all over. It is a city of contrasts, just like my hometown, with the best and the worst of what happens when people and magazines decide to label a place a "desireable place to live". I also went to a music day at a buddhist center nearby and had a great day in the sun dancing and visiting the meditation hall where they still had the seat set up from where the Dalai Lama taught when he visited a few years back. I learned a bit more about tibetan buddhism and recognized things I did and didn't agree with and realized that it's in line with every other religion I've ever studied: some parts work for me and some flat out don't. There is no perfect answer, just like there is no perfect place to live.



Seriously envious now.

  Chris Apr 16, 2009 3:05 AM

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