Fruitlands: A Utopian Community

After visiting Brook Farm and finding it almost worldly by their standards, Bronson Alcott (Louisa May’s father) and Charles Lane founded the Fruitlands Commune in June 1843 in Harvard, Massachusetts.

Structured around the British reformist model, members of the commune were opposed to property, were political anarchists, believed in free love and were vegetarians. The group of eleven adults and a small number of children were forbidden from eating meat or using animal products such as honey, wool, beeswax or manure. They were also not allowed to use animals for labor and only planted products from the soil so as not to disturb the worms and other organisms living in the soil.

Many residents of the group felt that manual labor was a spiritual problem and it quickly became clear that the community could not provide enough food to support its members. The strict diet of cereals and fruits left many members of the group malnourished and sick. Faced with this situation, many members left and the community collapsed in January 1844.