Koinonia Farm is Rich With Produce, Acceptance, and a Riveting History
This Georgia farm holds a prominent place in Civil Rights history.
Clarence and Florence Jordan and Martin and Mabel England established what they called a "demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God" on 400 acres. The intentional community sought to bring together families to live and work alongside one another, sharing in the bounty.
Over the years, the number of residents grew. Black and white citizens lived and worked together, earning the same amount of money, and shared the same dinner table. Conscientious objectors from World War II were also welcomed. "Koinonians," as they called themselves, worked with local churches and were a part of the community.
Clarence Jordan and Koinonia were subject to visits from the Ku Klux Klan for welcoming all races. Jordan also fought for two Black students to be allowed to attend an Atlanta college. This led to violence and property damage from the unhappy neighbors. Others boycotted their products, damaging them financially, and business loans were revoked.
Americus and Southwest Georgia were a big part of the Civil Rights Movement, especially when it came to voter registration and integration. In 1960, the courts allowed students from Koinonia to attend the local high school. The following year, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in Albany and in 1963, the Leesburg Stockade outside of Americus made national headlines.
The Albany Movement was spearheaded by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, of which Americus resident Sam Mahone was a member. Koinonians worked alongside members of SNCC and CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality.
"It began with intensive and extensive voter registration drives in the city, downtown Americus, and also in the county," said Mahone. He is now part of the Americus Civil Rights Center and Museum, which is under construction in the town's 1923 Black hospital.
By 1969, Clarence Jordan and Millard Fuller revived Koinonia, focusing on affordable housing for local residents. Millard and wife Linda continued Jordan's efforts after his death, eventually forming Habitat for Humanity International. The organization is still an important part of Americus today. The Koinonia community also played a role in the founding of Jubilee Partners, an organization that assists refugees from conflict zones in resettlement.
In the following decades, the intentional community aspect shifted but the farm continues to operate its agricultural mail order business, selling peanuts, pecans, jellies, honey, and chocolate. Before the pandemic, the farm also welcomed visitors for tours and retreats.
"Koinonia has been fortunate through all this though we are missing the hundreds upon hundreds of guests that come to visit us each year. We're a house of hospitality after all," says Bren Dubay, the executive director of the farm.
But the community has faced hard times before and will come out stronger than ever. The farm continues to run its internship program and has grant-funded restorations and projects. Hundreds of pecan trees will be planted for future harvests and their products can be purchased online.
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"In 2022, Koinonia Farm will celebrate our 80th birthday," says Katie Miles, the farm's communications coordinator. "There were plenty of times over the past 80 years that we did not know if Koinonia would be around for the next year. To celebrate 80 years is a huge accomplishment and we are excited to see what the next 80-plus years will bring."