Introduction to The Roots of Plenty

The roots of Plenty can be traced to the fertile soils of the spiritual revolution that bred the hippies during the 1960s and 1970s. These were the times when Plenty’s founders – the settlers of the intentional community in Tennessee called The Farm – transformed into a long-haired, tie-dyed, rocked out, exuberant, joyous, tribe of unabashed do-gooders.

At the heart of the transformation was the discovery that life had meaning and purpose after all, and that meaning and purpose involved loving each other and creating peace, doing something for the world and having a lot of fun in the process.

We had an opportunity to break free of stringent, materialistic, egotistical mindset and we embraced it and never looked back.

An all-volunteer ambulance in the South Bronx, 1980-1985

On October 4th, 1974, Plenty became an official non-profit charity. It’s no exaggeration to say that at the time we started Plenty, we didn’t have the faintest idea what Plenty would do beyond beingĀ helpful in some way.

Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota

Plenty’s early work, the focus of this book, seeded projects and relationships that are still evolving. We’ve been involved in Guatemala since 1976, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota since 1981, and in Belize since 1985.

People we work with become like family. They invite us to their weddings and birthday parties, graduations, and funerals. They remember us.

When one of our Plenty volunteers returned to Guatemala 15 years later to do more soy food demonstrations, she realized that the young mothers attending her classes were once the little kids she gave soy ice cream, and now their kids were the ones lining up for frozen soy treats.

Many families from The Farm Community spent time as volunteers in Guatemala.

The stories in this book focus on the early years, when Plenty was part of The Farm collective, and illustrate how truly courageous, resourceful, and talented Plenty volunteers have been. Many were teenagers and 20-somethings when they joined projects in distant lands. Most had never done anything like this before. Most had no formal training in development work. What they had going for them, was a compassionate nature, fearlessness, and resolute faith in their ability to do heavy things they had never done before. Unsung heroes all.

We want to tell their stories, because their stories are the clearest evidence we have that everyone is already qualified to help and make a difference.

There will never be a lack of big, important things to do. No need to be bored. Finding and creating solutions, in partnership with others of like mind and heart, is where the action is – and the fun.

It turns out, all you need is love.

Peter Schweitzer, Plenty International Executive Director

Note: This is an excerpt of the Introduction from The Roots of Plenty. Click the button below to order your copy and read the full introduction.

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