Fruitlands Commune

Bronson Alcott's Great Experiment

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Fruitlands was a Utopian farm commune founded by Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane in the 1840’s. It is located in Harvard, MA.

Lane set this plan in motion when he purchased the Wyman farm and 90 acres that went along with it.

Their aim was to be based on Transcendentalist principles. Louisa May Alcott chronicled this experiment in her famous essay “Transcendental Wild Oats”.

Residents there lived what we today would call a strict vegan lifestyle, used no artificial light, drank only water, and bathed in the same—unheated!  Mostly fruit was eaten, since many vegetables ‘showed their low nature by growing downward’. No animal labor was used, and property was held in common.

The founders intended for its residents to grow what they needed themselves and to abstain from commerce with the outside world. They didn’t want to hire workers or buy food from that outside world.

Sadly, the commune lasted about 7 months, which is more than many of us could live under such strict conditions. Having bought a farm for the purpose, though, Alcott and Lane considered it a failed plan. It turned out that farming was their downfall. Like many communes which would follow them in the 1960’s, the residents were not farmers, and had romantically underestimated just how difficult the farming life could be.

There is now a museum on the property, and has been since 1914. So, this remarkable experiment lasted for 7 months, and a museum in memory of it has lasted for nearly 100 years!

At A Glance

102 Prospect Hill Rd. Harvard
April 15-November 15, 10am-4pm

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