Skip to Content
Closed today, next open Thursday. Closed today, next open Thursday.

Tolstoy Farm, Davenport, Washington

A work made of chromogenic print, from the series "sweet earth: experimental utopias in american".

Image actions

  • A work made of chromogenic print, from the series "sweet earth: experimental utopias in american".


August 2004


Joel Sternfeld
American, born 1944

About this artwork


Currently Off View


Photography and Media


Joel Sternfeld


Tolstoy Farm, Davenport, Washington


United States


Made 2004


Chromogenic print, from the series "Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in American"


No markings recto or verso Even though it has almost no rules or committees, Tolstoy Farm continues to be one of the longest surviving secular intentional communities in America. It was founded in 1963 when Huw “Piper” Williams returned to his home state of Washington from New England, where he was working as a peace activist and living on a communal farm. After purchasing some land, he invited his friends from the peace movement to join him in a “simple living kind of alternative Christian lifestyle.” Over the years those words have come to mean many things. With one general meeting each year and weekly potlucks, the fifty members of Tolstoy Farm are happy to “associate and/or dissociate with each other freely.” The group has steadfastly adhered to a single founding principle: no one could be forced to leave, so “We would have to work out our differences in the right way.” At times the application of this rule has been tested in the extreme, but Tolstoy Farm remains a healthy, thriving commune. For the past six seasons, a Community Supported Agriculture farm program (CSA) has prospered at the center of Tolstoy Farm. CSA programs are sometimes referred to as “subscription farming”: individuals pledge financial support to a farm operation before the growing season begins, so that both farmer and consumer share the risks and benefits of the crop. The CSA model is used by more than a thousand small farms in the US and Canada. A weekly box delivered to a subscriber of the Tolstoy Farm CSA in the month of September might contain corn, beets, carrots, chard, cucumbers, zucchini, kale, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and keeper onions, green peppers, pears, plums, winter squash, pumpkins, celery, tomatillos, garlic, hot peppers and green beans. Tolstoy Farm takes its name from a historic settlement founded in 1910 outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, by Mahatma Gandhi as a base for passive resisters. In jail, Gandhi read Tolstoy—the Russian author’s renunciation of force as a means of opposition was formative to Ghandi’s political philosophy. From the portfolio, Sweet Earth: Experimental Utopias in America, 1982–2005


26.4 × 33.2 cm (image); 27.9 × 35.4 cm (paper)

Credit Line

Gift of Ralph and Nancy Segall

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions