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The Slow Farm

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  87 ratings  ·  20 reviews
In the early 1970s, Tarn Wilson's father quit his job as the Brookings Institution's first computer programmer, packed his family into a converted school bus with "Suck Nixon" painted on the side, and headed for the Canadian wilderness. He planned to give his two young children an Edenic childhood, free from the shadows of war, materialism, and middle class repression. Bet ...more
Paperback, 382 pages
Published February 18th 2014 by Ovenbird Books
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Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
True confession: I was a hippie parent. So I was fascinated by Tarn Wilson's recalling her childhood as she was raised by two hippie parents on an island in Canada.

Though I raised my kids in rural California, the similarities to Tarn's upbringing in rural Canada are strong. It was part pain (as childhood is), part naked idyll. She's recalling the time as a child; I'm viewing her story as a parent. She's honest about the flaws of her upbringing but also remarkably forgiving of her parents. Maybe
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I met Tarn at a dinner party last week and thoroughly enjoyed her book.
Melinda Maxwell-Smith
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ms. Tarn's eloquent telling of her early life in contact with the earth, but not as in contact with the adults who were raising her and her sister, gives a rare view into the wave of "back to the earth" movement of the late '60's - early '70's in North America. I'm so grateful to have read her memoir peppered with headlines, historical happenings, and familial influences that brought the family to the outskirts of civilization, and to the inner realms of exploration of human nature. Highly recom ...more
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this memoir of a child's few years of being raised in an alternative lifestyle by her anti-establishment parents. Growing up free of rules or restraints, Tarn and her younger sister, Rima had some wonderful adventures in the woods and streams around their house after their young parents relocated them from Colorado to a remote island in Canada. They were both very young at the time, five and three and Tarn did an amazing job collecting scraps and recollecting the feel of living w ...more
Judith Shadford
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
If I had known, without knowing Tarn Wilson, that the story transpired mostly on Texada Island, I would have snatched it and run to the cash register. To have Tarn's childhood so carefully, beautifully framed, on Texada is a gift to be cherished for a long long time. And then that Judith Kitchen and Ovenbird Books produced it...well, you know. That priceless thing.
Her artifacts of construction--they really work, because, for me, it is a complete story, despite the brevity of individual memories
Steven Harvey
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book grew on me slowly which is part of its intention. Tarn Wilson builds the story of her life growing up with hippie parents in Canada in a series of small vignettes interspersed with documents from the time. The sections accrue power as they accumulate. We as readers experience her childhood as it happens so to speak. In the end a complete picture emerges of a family who attempted to create its own Eden only to find that the sorrows of the human predicament are not so easily avoided. Sti ...more
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: college
I had Tarn Wilson as a high school English teacher, and she was one of the nicest people I've ever met. She is the kind of person who's life story you desperately want to know about but refrains from talking about it beyond curiosity-increasing details. So I was thrilled to finally learn a little more about her past and the ambiance from which she was raised. She writes in a very unique and delectable style, and her 'artifacts' were pure gold. Now I just wish she wrote about more than two years ...more
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it
I like the structure of this book that intersperses memoir episodes with factual and other material, I believe she called it evidence. The evidence provides useful information about the setting and about the philosophical approach of her hippy parents. I am amazed at the amount of very specific information and dialog that she is able to recall—in fact, I don't quite believe it all. And that is probably the biggest problem with this book; other than it is too long and really doesn't lead to much. ...more
Richda Mcnutt
Dec 10, 2014 rated it liked it
A child's-eye view of living on Texada Island in the early 1970's. Interesting construction interspersed with photos and excerpts from social commentary of the times. For me, the most striking writing was the imagery that the author scatters throughout the book regarding her emotions and responses to the physical and familial environments. ...more
Madeline Barthelme
Hippie Life Reflections

This autobiography caught my attention immediately. Ms. Wilson's writing style brings you easily into her experiences, and I was able to picture her life very clearly.

I admire her honesty about her upbringing, and her eventual acceptance of the family she was part of. I was moved by her story, and admire her strength.
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A captivating and realistic look into one family's walk for a time living as "hippies" and just how similar were their hopes and dreams for their country to those today who strive to make a difference. The simplicity of life does indeed provide an interesting perspective. A very individual experience. ...more
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story that touched me deeply. The writing is vivid, tangible, real. Even though Tarn's childhood was very different than mine, the stories and feelings are somehow familiar. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! ...more
Cynthia Karpa McCarthy
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-authors
I read this book slowly because I didn't want it to end. ...more
J. A.  Lewis
One woman's memoir on her life being raised by two hippies. While it seemed to me that both of her parents were fairly intelligent, their lifestyle was interesting. Ms. Wilson and her family lived in a communal setting for a time. She and her sister were allowed to run free without clothing often, and it seemed went dirty frequently. Her father seemed to lack direction and drive. When her parents finally split, I was glad her mother got a job and was able to provide a safer, more structured life ...more
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am so glad I discovered this deep, thoughtful, moving memoir, and I want others to discover it too. Read this book! Maybe especially if you are old enough to have been a hippie or loved a hippie--the genuine back-to-the-earth type from the 70s, then this book will remind you of what was beautiful and what was impossible about those times, that way of living. If you know nothing about those times, those values, maybe especially if you are too young to have known, then you should read this book ...more
D. Thrush
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written series of anecdotal memories of a hippie childhood in Canada. At times it sounds idyllic though reality often clashes with their world. Tarn and her younger sister, Rima are raised with no rules. There are few toys and no TV and they have to use their imaginations to amuse themselves. They have fun roaming and exploring. It’s interesting to read things from a child’s perspective. Tarn does a great job of bringing this world alive and you feel like you’re there with ...more
Bruce Elisha
I just couldn't put it down. Brilliant story integrating memoir with excerpts from writers who influenced the thinking of the times which gave a context for the experiences related. After hearing Tarn speak at the NonFiction Now conference that ended last night I stayed up half the night to finish it. Certainly there is pain and anxiety, and at times I felt myself re-experiencing my own repressed childhood anxiety as I read how Tarn assumed responsibility for many of her parent's problems - a li ...more
Jeff Scroggin
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author presents a fun read about her experiences growing up with an eccentric mother and father who decide to drop out of society in the northwest. The scenes are very touching, sometimes amusing and sometimes melancholy.
Dec 03, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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Tarn Wilson has settled in the heart of shiny and fast-paced Silicon Valley, so far from the outhouses and kerosene lamps of her rural Canadian childhood that she sometimes feels as if she’s lived two hundred years. So she tromps through the hills as often as she can, identifying plants and spying on animals. In a typical week, she devotes a couple hours a day to writing at her red desk—and has be

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