We went to the West Coast [on a speaking tour] in 1973 and I started getting a particular kind of criticism on the road from people. The complaint usually was, “Why do you have the right to get all of these hundreds of really smart, well-directed, political people and take them out of the action and take them out in the woods and lose them?” They put it to me so fine. “You can’t take all these people out of the Revolution.” I thought about it a long time and I got the idea that what we need is a group practice that we do to reach out and do things that need to be done. We just do ‘em.
The next thing was — what should we call it? I didn’t want an acronym; they are too cute. But I thought now “plenty — the idea being there is enough to go around if it were fairly distributed.” The ‘plenty’ part isn’t political but the ‘fairly distributed’ part, is. I said I’d been thinking about ‘Plenty’ for a while. I talked to the Farm a couple of Sunday mornings about it and folks were hot for it, and said, “Let’s go!” So, we started looking around for an opportunity to do something.
It came up where this farmer down in Alabama got blown out by a tornado pretty bad. We sent a bunch of people down there to help put his farm back together. That was fun. Then there was a drought and no beans in Honduras. They were just having a real hard time there. We went to the Mennonite Central Committee. We said if we had the money we could get the beans, bag the beans, and get them down there. So, they bought us 50,000 bags of beans. We found a boat captain who, I didn’t say this to him, but I thought it was good karma for him to carry beans back down to make up for the endangered rosewood he was hauling out.
Plenty moves it from a bunch of hippies taking care of themselves to a bunch of hippies trying to take care of the world.
Plenty has become a part of the Farm’s self-concept, part of our intrinsic worth and value. We’re not just squatting land. Plenty has some of the best grassroots credentials of anybody. Fronted out by a bunch of people, none of them rich.
Plenty is one of the real benchmarks holding the collectivity of the Farm together, because everybody owns Plenty. We’re all part of Plenty, and we all support Plenty and it runs throughout the whole Farm, through ex-Farmies, and thousands of folks with a shared world view. I like natural organic things that organize themselves.
We’re a little thumbtack holding down a piece of the Revolution here. Those people who were worried about us taking all these nice people out into the woods to get lost need not worry.