The Winona Farm
Dick's Rambles on Life and Unschooling

Reasons for opening The Winona Farm to Unschoolers
A search for meaning/satisfaction-- distracted by school
How do you escape freedom?
The Saga of Red.
Dick's "Letters to the Editor"
John Holt's "Growing without Schooling"
The Underground History of American Education
John Taylor Gatto quotes

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A place for unschoolers who are interested in a healthy outdoor lifestyle, to visit a few hours, days, months or years.

For families who dream of living in the country and would like to try it while visiting with some who do.

For those who have a passion and vision for the unschooling movement and would like to help keep it growing.

A place where those interested in extended bike or canoe trips can meet, prepare, depart from and return to, with stories and encouragement for others who are thinking about it.

A safe place for parents who are passionate about unschooling and participating with their kids as they grow up in a wide variety of meaningful work and constructive exercise that surrounds one on a small, diversified, story book like farm.

The Farm supports itself through several interwoven activities, including it's compost site which is open every day dawn 'till dark and operates on an "honor system". The compost is used to enrich the farm's fields. Produce, chickens, eggs, firewood, etc., are sold to the steady stream of Winonans who visit The Farm. We would expect unschoolers to help with whatever is going on or pursue their own projects if they would contribute to The Farm or unschooling causes, such as writing grants, articles, photography, wildlife projects or reaching out to other unschoolers.

The Winona Farm is a 175-acre rural oasis at the junction of two trout streams on the edge of Winona, Minnesota. The Farm's ruralness is forever protected from Winona's 25,000 populations by 600' hills and the Minnesota Land Trust. Winona, built on a long narrow sand bar in the Mississippi River is land starved. In 1986 and 1994 a school referendum would have taken The Farm for a new middle school/athletic complex through eminent domain. Luckily, the referendums failed.

The odds of an unschooler finding a compatible friend or partner with a similar philosophy are not great. In our profit driven society, processes that have evolved over the ages and almost always work perfectly have been twisted and distorted to satisfy the bottom line. No money in breast feeding - big money in formula. No money in unschooling - beware of those selling snake oil school curriculums for home use. In both cases the authority figure/con man uses the fear factor and your lack of experience to make his profit. If we charge you to visit The Farm it would imply that we are going to teach something or have a course, after which there would be a ceremony where successful participants would receive gold stars. It might also make you feel you had to stay the course and we had to put up with you when the match was less than perfect. However, with your help and suggestions I envision a steady stream of unschoolers visiting, participating and starting to feel a part of a piece of land and the unique people it brings together.

John Holt visited the farm in '79. John wrote about "his work" being that which he would do for no pay. That is what I am doing. I would make that goal even more difficult by adding that surviving by that which you so enjoy doing, should also be worth doing. Much of what most of us do for a living would be better left undone. For example, I could not rationalize raising tobacco, no matter how much I might enjoy it or how well it paid. In 1972 I hatched over 6,000 turtle eggs. Gathering eggs was was easy digging on sand bars in the river. They were sold as pets in New York City where most starved, dehydrated, or were flushed down toilets. Could you have rationalized continuing that pleasant challenging ideal family business? For over seven years we milked 40 cows on The Farm until the Federal Government paid us $57,000 in 1986 to slaughter all our cows and heifers and not have another female dairy animal on the farm for five years because of the huge dairy surpluses. However, considering how damaging cattle can be to this hilly land, even if the milk from our herd had been flowing directly into the distended bellies of starving Somalians, only to provide them enough strength to sit in front of the TV and be programmed as American consumers; I would have looked for a more worthwhile way to spend my life.

I believe there is no substitute for participation. A small, diversified farm is an ideal place for people of all ages to find constructive activities they can participate in. Upon entering The Winona Farm you might see hens with broods of chicks on the lawn, friendly horses wanting to be petted, cows eating grass clippings local composters feed them, milk goats stripping leaves from brush that composters have fed them, a sow and her brood digging in the compost pile, a tom turkey courting a composter's white sneakers, pet crows chasing each other among the white pines, roosters crowing, turkeys gobbling, pigeons cooing, sheep baaing, pigs squealing, the sights, sounds and smells of the almost extinct small farm. All of these living things have to be cared for and that is where the youngest child can start to feel responsible and gain an understanding and appreciation of where life comes from. Today, most chickens, turkeys, hogs, cattle, and people are raised in confinement. Through confinement our farm and school systems mass produce passive consumers who are sent to slaughter uniformly tender. I'm looking for unschoolers who, like our farm chickens, are quick, tough and eager to explore their world. I've found that the easiest way to get participation is to eliminate the overuse of pacifiers: TV, video games, boom boxes, head sets, junk food, colas, nicotine, alcohol and other drugs. I have no interest in institutionalized religion or education. All we need are a few tough/kind unschoolers. - - Dick Gallien

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