Plenty had been working with Greenpeace and at one point even considered purchasing a ship to transport project volunteers and equipment overseas. There was, however, at that time a ship that in 1973 had led a flotilla of smaller vessels, with crews made up of international peace and environmental activists, on a mission to disrupt French atmospheric nuclear tests being conducted at Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific. This ship was a wooden, 90-foot, two-masted former Baltic trader called the Fri that had been built in 1912.
Following the 1973 protests in the South Pacific, Greenpeace in New Zealand commissioned the Fri to undertake a three-year voyage to visit the world’s nuclear states on a campaign promoting peace and nuclear disarmament. In 1982 the Fri, still crewed by a colorful collection of swashbuckling young hippies, was docked in Amsterdam being refurbished. We decided to join with the Fri to carry volunteers and equipment to various islands in the Caribbean where governments and community organizations were asking for our help.
We asked Plenty volunteers Dwane Jackson and Andy Boatwright, both accomplished carpenters, to go over to Europe and assist with the refurbishing.
I remember driving across East Germany to West Berlin with the Fri’s first-rate navigator, a lanky, hippie salty dog named Martini. With the help of the German youth brigade underground we commandeered a small art theater in the “liberated” anarchist zone of towering, graffiti-banner-draped squats populated by hundreds of irreverent German punkers with purple spiked hair, leather and attitude. To a packed house, we showed the stock Farm/Plenty slide show and talked about the Fri and our upcoming development tour of the Caribbean.
From West Berlin, we moved on in a rented VW to Geneva where we waltzed around behind my United Nations Identity Card (Plenty had registered with the UN as a Non-Governmental Organization) and buttonholed as many bureaucrats as possible before our money ran out. Geneva is no place for poor folks. We stayed with friends, but a small lunch cost $30.
When the Fri and its intrepid crew were ready they headed out across the North Atlantic. Forty-foot waves off the southern coast of England nearly capsized her, but she made it across the ocean to dock in Saint Augustine, Florida where we loaded her with soy dairy equipment, solar panels, wind generators, and volunteers. With the Plenty flag flying proudly from the mainmast, the Fri sailed through the islands of the Lesser and Greater Antilles, seeding volunteers and appropriate technology in Haiti, Jamaica, Dominica, Saint Vincent and Saint Lucia. It eventually spawned the largest soyfoods production operation in Kingston, Jamaica and fifteen years of development work with the last of the Carib Indians living on a five-square mile reservation on the Atlantic Coast of Dominica.