"Anybody know whose giant SUV that is?” Matt Gordon is nearly screaming. This is cause for concern. Usually, Gordon’s clear blue eyes are the epitome of Wooderson cool, regardless of the situation. This is the guy who actually volunteered to act as a guide for the students and campers who tour the grounds on a near-daily basis during the summer, who’s used to equipping preteens with shovels while managing to avoid a revolt, who handles the poo jokes and hippie asides without strangling anybody.


But right now, Gordon is frazzled. The Range Rover in question is keeping a bus full of hormonal junior high kids from turning into the commune’s driveway, and as a result, traffic is backing up on a blind curve on Boones Ferry.


 

commune bricks

HOT ROCKS Inside the earthen structure, a wood-burning stove heats bricks; mud-and-straw walls keep the temperature at a steady, sweat-inducing level.


Soon enough, though, the culprit is found; a mother who is picking up her daughter from Cedar Moon’s on-premises summer camp jogs up the driveway to move her car. Gordon’s eyes return to their guileless state. “I don’t usually get frustrated with that type of stuff,” he says. “It’s part of living here, part of my job, and to be honest, we just like showing the place off.” Apparently, Zen-like calm is another benefit of the farm.

Gordon has lived at Cedar Moon for the past two years (though by October he plans to have moved back into the city). In Portland proper, he’s a part-time sound engineer and guitarist in bands with names like Pachi Pamwe and Luminous Fog. But on the farm, he acts as a sort of emissary to the outside world, using his degree in environmental studies to teach tour groups that, among other things, zucchini tastes great right off the vine, and when weeding, if it looks like it’s stinging nettle, it probably is (I found that out the hard way).


With a suggested donation of $5 per person, visitors provide a nice (and necessary) stream of income. Cedar Moon’s mortgage payment (minus the $2,000 supplied by TLC Farm) comes to $4,000 a month, and since most Cedar Moon residents don’t spend more than a couple of days a week working in Portland, it’s their dedication to side projects that helps pay a large portion of the bills. Teaching workshops (on everything from cheese making to kombucha brewing), throwing fundraisers, and selling the community’s own Hot Cock Sauce, which is stocked by People’s Food Co-Op, all help contribute to Cedar Moon’s general fund.


But the biggest—and perhaps most surprising—on-premises moneymaker is the Mother Earth Kindergarten and a Faery Garden for preschoolers. Not only are both Waldorf—certified, but Mother Earth is the nation’s first “bio-immersion” kindergarten, a term that Waldorf educators often use to describe teaching in a natural setting that doesn’t use anything that’s plugged in. “We’re trying to fight nature-deficit disorder by working with earth, air, fire, and water,” says Hogan, one of the school’s two instructors. “When you’re connecting with those elements in nature, you’re also connecting with a really deep part of yourself. The goal is to have children with an enthusiasm for life and reverence for nature.”