There are five main categories of people staying at Alpha Farm: visitors, long-term visitors, interns, residents, and members.
Visitors: Short-term visitor stays vary from 3 days to a couple of months. After a month they may participate in business meetings. A visit usually begins with a three-day initial visit (a week's initial visit can often be arranged if you are making a special trip longer than a day's drive). If you like what you see and/or feel the need to spend more time at Alpha you may ask for a week extension, which can be renewed each week up to about four weeks.
Long-term Visitors: Occasionally we accept new people for longer stays of one to six months, who are interested in community more as a learning experience than as a life choice; or who for some other reason are not in a position to consider membership. These are long-term visitors. They follow our visiting process up to about four weeks, then meet with residency team. In the meeting, the visitor and team come to agreement as to whether residency or long-term visitor status is more appropriate.
Interns: See description here.
Residents: Residents are those who, after having visited or having been interns, feel like they would like to explore becoming a member at Alpha Farm. After requesting residency they meet with the residency team, go through an interviewing process and then commit for a six-month trial membership. If at the end of six months you still want to pursue membership, you commit to another six months, at the end of which you would become a member (given the community's approval).
We are open to a wide range of new residents; however, we are most in need of committed community-builders: people who are mature, skilled, and emotianally well-adjusted, who have experience making and keeping commitments to a community, marriage/partnership, career, or children, and who are interested in making a long-term commitment to life in community. Good communication skills are a big plus, if not a requirement.
Members: Members have committed to living and working at Alpha Farm "for the foreseeable future." They participate in all decision-making and have a say in the long-term goals of the community.
Because we function by consensus, at every point in the visiting process your progress toward residency or membership must be approved by the group. Visitors are approved by the community as a whole; new residents, by members with input from other residents, new members, and by the existing members.
Most community members do a variety of work, both through our community-owned businesses and on the farm. Our businesses are Alpha-Bit , a cafe/bookstore/gift shop in nearby Mapleton (a half-hour drive); Alpha Mail, through which we operate a rural mail routes under contract from the U.S. Postal Service; and Alpha Institute , through which we practice and teach consensus decision making and meeting facilitation.
On the farm, we do an even wider variety of work ranging from office work (including bookkeeping and accounting), auto maintenance, general maintenance, occasional construction projects to working in the garden and fields, care of our dairy animals (and chickens when we have them), bees, orchard, farm equipment maintenance, food preservation, shopping, child care, grounds maintenance, flower and herb gardens.
Our work expectation is 40 hours a week, though many people work more than that, because between a farm and self-employment, there is no end of tasks to be done. Most residents and members work at least two days a week in one of our businesses and the rest of their time on the farm. Visitors usually begin by working on the farm, and add work in one of our businesses if they are exploring residency. Alpha-Bit is typically the next step, because little training is needed; most long-term visitors and residents work there. Work driving the mail route is open to those who have made at least a six-month commitment. Alpha Institute often needs office help, but facilitation, teaching and consulting work is at present open only to members or those with established skills.
Occasionally new residents join Alpha who have established artisan or freelance businesses that they bring with them. These often can be accommodated, on a case-by-case basis, by meeting with our residency team. Otherwise we encourage new residents to work on the farm or through Alpha businesses so they can integrate well into the community.
Because we are an income-sharing community, all income comes to the community, which in turn pays for everyone's needs and provides a small allowance for personal desires like entertainment and long-distance phone calls. When you become a resident, however, all assets and liabilities are your own. If you come with savings, it is yours to spend as you wish, though we encourage people to live as close as possible to the community standard of living, so that they can get a sense of whether they could live as members. If you come with debts, they also are your responsibility; your individual situation will be discussed with the residency team to see if we can work out a solution.
Our diet is primarily ovo-lacto vegetarian, with meat or fish served occasionally, but we accommodate other diets as needed. Typically at our shared meals we cook for two or three special diets to accommodate allergies or other health concerns. Those who need animal protein for health reasons often will prepare meat or fish for themselves at lunch, which is not a shared meal.
At present our garden is for ourselves and does not yield enough to serve a commercial market. However, there is interest in commercial farming and gardening, and we welcome those with commercial farming and farm management experience, particularly anyone interested in making a commitment to Alpha long enough to get such a business on its feet.