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Our Communities in Australia: An Overview
Have you looked for a place to belong?
Not just something to do part time, but something you could be a part of and know that you belonged there … even with all your own hurtful ways? Have you ever wondered if there could be a place, a completely different life, where you could learn to love others and be set free from your own selfishness? We were looking for this place, although if you met us in our old lives, you wouldn’t have thought it of us. We looked just like anyone else: we worked 9-5 in shops, in offices, or driving cars. Or we worked with our backs and our hands as builders, plumbers, farmers. A few of us owned lands and houses, some of us owned nothing substantial, but we all made money and spent it. Some of us were students of the arts, of trades or of commerce. We had high hopes and lots of opportunities. We travelled here and there all over the world. Some of us come from very painful upbringings, haunted by loneliness and rejection. While others came from more stable upbringings, with parents who cared for us, and grandparents who talked to us, but all of us could see the children growing up in this fast-paced world and wondered what their future would hold.
Overall, though, the one thing you could say we had in common is that whatever we did didn’t satisfy us. We were still looking, even though we didn’t really know what we were looking for. Most of us weren’t looking for a community, but here we are. By saying we are a "community" we do not mean a neighbourhood association, a land co-op or a multiple-occupancy. But, rather we are an extended family of married couples, children and single people who have become a part of each other’s lives. This oneness of heart creates a life of care and growth. We live in two households, one in Picton (CLICK HERE FOR MORE ABOUT THIS LOCATION) an hour southwest of Sydney and the other in Katoomba (CLICK HERE FOR MORE ABOUT THIS LOCATION), in the Blue Mountains, an hour and a half west of Sydney.
Living in Australia, where many people are polarized about religion, it’s hard to know whether we cause offense when we speak of God. But, as with any culture, especially a tribal people, it is our spiritual life that holds us together, and enables us to forbear with one another. We believe in the Son of God and follow His teachings in the Bible, but without the church buildings or the two thousand years of church history. We’re getting back to the actual words and life of Christ Himself, a humble Man with no possessions, who loved His friends. He lived a radical life outside the mainstream and called His followers to do the same.
We love working together to make this life increase and have gladly embraced the hard work it often entails. Our greatest work is to build up and encourage one another. We work hard to maintain our love and loyalty towards one another out of gratitude for the One who created us. When we live open, honest lives, we ensure that peace is in our midst, and in this setting, genuine love abounds. The pattern for our life is described in the Bible, in the stories of the first church, before the clergy system came in. We gather twice a day, early in the morning and in the evening, to offer our Father songs of praise and folk dances, and speak what is within our hearts and then to offer a community prayer to the One who makes this life possible. Afterward, we share our meals together and enjoy the fellowship we have been given as we do the dishes and participate in the daily tasks of cleaning and caring for each other’s needs. We have many children, so there is much to do with caring for them and bringing them alongside us in what we are doing. We homeschool them and teach them not only academics, but also old-fashioned, practical skills. They love being involved and being a part of building up our life.
We hope your heart is stirred to come visit us! We are very glad to share our life with you for a brief visit or a longer stay. Our home is always open to anyone who desires to the see the life we live. It’s the reason we are here! Visiting us is as simple as dropping in. Whether you come to the Peppercorn Creek Farm or to our home in Katoomba (called Balmoral House), you will find us together. During the week, most of us will be with the children or busy in the kitchen producing wholesome food, washing dishes, or taking care of our home and property. You’re very welcome to take us as you find us and to pitch in and help.
Every Friday night, beginning at 7:00 p.m. we host a festive celebration for the Sabbath, which includes a gathering of song, dance and thanksgiving, followed by dinner and more dancing. (Sometimes, the farm community will gather at the Woolshed behind the bakery – just call 0413 430 733, and ask for David, to confirm where we’ll be.) We like to invite people especially on this night as we are all at home and the evening is very relaxed. It’s a wonderful gathering of our neighbours, old friends we’ve known for years, new friends we’re just getting to know and people we’re meeting for the first time.
Our cafés are closed on Saturday, but our homes are open to you. We gather at 8:00 a.m. to sit down and share the things we have been learning in our heart, followed by breakfast in the garden sunshine. The rest of the day is a family day, enjoying each other’s company as we rest, take walks, play volleyball or play music together, write letters or read. In the evening, we gather at 6:00 p.m. for a lively celebration of simple dances (that include even the youngest child), a story and a special meal. Another way to visit is to meet us at one of our cafés. Even though we are busy with the many customers, we are only too happy to find the time to talk to you and get to know you. Please, don’t hesitate to ask us for a conversation!
Our Cafés and Markets
The Yellow Deli/Common Ground Café on the corner of Waratah and Katoomba Streets with its unique wooden décor is now a Katoomba landmark. The Common Ground Café and Bakery at the Razorback Inn in Picton, together with the Woolshed Function Rooms, is well able to accommodate groups of many sizes and needs. We are very glad to have our cafés where the local people and visitors from afar can meet us on common ground. We love to take care of people, and serving our customers is a very real way to do that. PLEASE NOTE: Both Cafés are closed on Saturday. Our hours are from Sunday- Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. Always closed Friday nights and Saturday. You may also meet us at one of the many music festivals and one-day events held in Sydney, rural NSW and the Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland. We bring a mobile Common Ground Café to these events, offering a range of hot foods and cold drinks, a place to rest or to talk, to listen to music or even to learn a dance.
OUR WONDERFUL BREADS & PEPPERCORN CREEK FARM GREEN DRINK AND GREEN BARS ARE AT SEVEN FARMER’S MARKETS EACH WEEK!
- Sunday: Frenchs Forest Organic Food Market: 35 Frenchs Forest Road, East Frenchs Forest, 2086
- Sunday: Marrickville Organic Food Market: 142 Addison Road, Addison Road Centre, Marrickville, 2204
- Thursday: Hornsby Organic Food Market: Westfield Shopping Mall, Florence St and Hunter St, Hornsby, 2077
- Thursday: Double Bay Organic Food Market: Guilfoyle Park, Guilfoyle Ave, Double Bay, 2028
- Friday: Wollongong Produce and Creative Traders’ Market: Crown Street Mall, Wollongong
- Friday: Bondi Junction Farmers Market: Oxford St, Bondi Junction
- Friday: Beaches Market: Warriewood/Pittwater area, Pittwater Rugby Park (Rat Park)
Farming, Wwoofing, Work for Stay and other organized visits
We have many visitors come to us through the International World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF); Workaway or HelpX. People of many nationalities live in our community so you may find your language spoken here. More than simply looking for helpers to do some work in exchange for food and accommodation, our guests are alongside us and learning with us the deeper things of life. We look forward to hosting anyone wishing to enjoy the reward of “growing” spiritually as well as the experience of living in a large community. A visit to our farm is a unique cultural experience, rather like visiting a tribal people with its customs and traditions. The centre of our life is our morning and evening gatherings and all those who stay with us attend all of our gatherings, including the celebrations on the weekend. We are outspoken about our beliefs, but we do respect that our guests may have their own. In some things, you will find us old-fashioned and, by the standards in the world today, out of date. We teach our children about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and to keep themselves until they get married. So, we have accommodation for single men, single women and married couples. There is wi-fi internet in our cafés for email purposes. We do not use drugs, alcohol or tobacco or allow them on our properties, with the possible exception of tobacco, which we ask that people would use outside with discretion and safety.
In the many ways we endeavour to establish a truly sustainable life and culture, agriculture is just one facet. Our vegetable garden is well-established and in the spring and autumn, there is plenty to do: planting, weeding, watering, laying drip line, staking, pruning, harvesting, drying, pickling, mulching and so on. At certain times, though, there is not much work in the field, and wwoofers and other volunteers usually help to keep up with the grounds or prepare meals at home. You could find yourself participating helping with the preps in our busy café and bakery. There is always the pressure of meeting the pressing need, but we try to be sensitive to what you may be interested in learning. Usually, we arrange short stays of a few days to a week, but if you are really enjoying the rhythm of our life, an extended stay can be discussed after this initial period.
We have had many warm visits from wonderful volunteers who have touched our hearts, and whose lives have been touched by us in a deep way. We would love to have you visit us also! If you have trouble reaching us at the phone numbers above, please just call us at 0413 430 733, or email us at the following:
For visits to the Peppercorn Creek Farm Community in Picton, where our Farm, Bakery and Picton Common Ground Cafe are located: Contact us in Picton!
For visits to the Community in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, where our wonderful Yellow Deli/Common Ground Cafe in Katoomba are located along with Balmoral House:
We look forward to meeting you! We are certain you will find visiting us a rewarding experience…and perhaps you will find your…."Place to Belong" just as we did!