For Debbie and Alexis, the desire for a purposeful community had started very early on. Debbie joined Twin Oaks, a neighboring intentional community, in 2007. (Read more about Twin Oaks and its relationship to our project here.) She had known Alexis through different community circles and had heard about people wanting to start a community based around “radical sufficiency, energy and food sustainability and so forth.”
Alexis noted how the creation of LEF was an incremental process. “We’ve been on the property for a few years, but the project has been evolving for eight or nine years now depending on how you look at it. Deb and I were the ones who started it from the beginning, so even when weren’t actually living on the property, we were still the ones kind of creating the project.” Alexis had experience working with different environmental groups but decided to put his drive and his mechanical skills fully into developing LEF.
Deanna and Misha first came out to Living Energy Farm after a positive visit at Twin Oaks. Misha recalled, “[I] heard Alexis speak and I sort of got really enthusiastic about that speech, as far as self-sustainability, that’s pretty much what I wanted to do too, is learn how… not try to start it by myself because I kind of looked at my life and realized, you know, if i’m gonna try to do something by myself, first I’m gonna have to learn how to do it and it’s gonna take years to do that, but already when people [were] doing it and asking for help and to join them… that’s a perfect opportunity.” So in 2015 Deanna, Misha, and their two children moved to LEF.
Deanna, on the other hand, was a bit more hesitant about moving. She has many off-site activities, that include a teaching in both Richmond and Charlottesville. Deanna noted how she has very much enjoyed her time at LEF but plans on leaving with her family soon. “I think it’s important, but it’s not for me, for long-term. You know we’ve done this, we’ve learned a lot. It’s definitely been important for me on a personal level as far as learning how and seeing the technology in action and that is why the project is important because you are seeing a fossil fuel-free society trying develop. You know you are seeing people exploring alternative methods of energy. [But] at this point, raising two young kids for me, personally, it’s very difficult [to live collectively].”
For those looking to get involved, LEF hosts both volunteers and interns year-round. Anyone interested can contact the community through either email or phone, both of which are found on the communities website. Along with this opportunity, they also hold Saturday tours around the community for people interested in learning more about LEF.