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Sunrise Farm Community in Michingan is a Study in Ideal Socialized Living

January 28, 1934
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

About 15 miles southeost of Sagianw is an 8,900-acre farm run on a collective basis by about eighty Jewish families. It is known as the Sunrise Co-operative Farm Community. Almost all of the workers are new-comers from New York City. Among them are former painters, paper hangers, cloak operators, storekeepers, etc.

The enterprise was started the latter part of June. That same tract of land had been operated the last thirty-four years ago, bought this tract mainly to grow sugar beets. Farmers, individually, were not willing to plant sugar beets. Hence, the company decided to raise sugar beets by having many men work on a cooperative basis. They also added other features of a farm and raised cattle and sheep. The ownership of the farm went later into the hands of the #cairn Bros, of Philadelphia and he Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co., and #om these firms, title was vested on june 28 in the Sunrise Co-operative Farm Community.

The large collective farm comprises three villages. The main one is Alicia, wherein are located most of the colonists homes, the children’s house, the health center, the large # the post office and the school. At present seventy-two chilren #tend school. The Saginaw # Goernment permitted them # have their own teachers. Instruc#is conducted in English and Yidlish.

The high school group has its own mimeographed publication. Here are a few hits of news gleaned from it: The high school library includes 240 books, mostly fiction and on socialogy. There are three history classes and an economics class; the glee culb meets Monday afternoon “whenever we can find a piano”; the dramstics club meets as often as mecessary. There is no competition of nay kind, no tests and report cards. A student may study French or algebra all may so long as by the end of the week he has finished the assignments in every subject he is taking. Students address teachers by their first names.

In this village are also found stalls for twenty Holstein cows, sixty Belgian horese which are noted for their size and strength. And there are grain elevators.

The second village is known as Pitcairn where there is a very expensive peppermint distillery, one of the six important ones in the country. Toward the end of September one-third of the peppermint oik was sold and it brought in $11,000. The machinery is used only six weeks during the year. Preparations are being made to build a laundry, a Turkish bath and a grist mill. The president, Ely Greenblatt, a former real estate man, lives there.

Near Picairn is a sty for about 200 pigs. It seems that even irreligios Jews dislike pigs. Most of them have been sold. In time the rest will go and the place will be pigless. Glausdale is the third vilage. Nearby 4,000 sheep graze. Consquently, the workers are served mutton every day.

Of the 8,900 acres, 3,000 are under cultivation, six four hundred and sixty are cultivated for peppermint, and five hundred are wooded. In the rest are planted hay, alfalfa, wheat, corn, potatoes and other vegetable, More than 5,000 acres are lying fallow and are waiting, so to speak, for the new workers. It is also believed that under 2,000 of these acres there is a coal bed, but no survey has yet been attempted. There is a system of dikes, canals and ditches to drain off the excess water.

According to one estimate, the farm is worht about $600,000. It is isured against fire for five years, for $250,000. Six thousand dollars has already been paid for the insurance. A short time ago a large stall was burned to the ground as a result of lightning. Some expensive machinery was also destroyed. In June when the farm went over to the Jews, two very large barns were burned. It is suspected that the fire was of incendiary origin.

Right now there are not a few non-Jewish share croppers on the sugar been fields. There is need for many more member workers to cultivate for themselves 3,000 acres of sugar beets instead of only 600 acres. It is hoped that with the coming of spring the share croppers will be re placed by the new member arrivals. The writer was told at the farm that it is certain that sixty more families from New York are preparing to come immediately after winter. Some have to liquidate their business and make other arrangements before coming to Michigan.

The workers on the farm seem to be happy. They are very satisfied in being away from tumult and hurried tempo of New York City. Their minds are at ease. They do not have to worry now about earning their means of livelihood as they used to. The thought of being laid off does not trouble them. They feel that they are now living on a firm foundation.

Among them are round one Italian and a Russian. They have been taken in because they are jacks-of-all trades and hence indispensable. They have not paid the $500 fee. But they have brought many necessay tools. Later, when dividends will be distributed if they ever will-their amounts will be subracted from the $500 debt. A married couple pays. $600. If the sons and daughters are above school age $100 is asked additionally for each one.

The members of this collective farm are not haragued to belong to any one political party. Most of them are anarchists or sympathizers with anarchism. As the writer entered the mess hall he saw the picture of the Russian anarchist, Kropotkin. An outspoken Communist is not accepted as a member since he shows intentions of stirring up trouble and trying to win them over to Communism. In practice the members of the Surise Farm are Communists, but as anarchists they differ in some ideas from Communism, which they cosider dangerous-that is exactly the word they used. How ever, one is entitled to whatever political or religious ideas as long as he does not try to impose them on or #nterfere with others. Amongst them there are nationalsts who take a deep interest in Zionism.

How far this collective farm will progress and whether it will succeed only time will tell. It can accommo date 500 families, 2,000 people. Various obstacles are in the way, but all the members of the Surise Co-operative Farm Community seem to be determined to make a success of the huge undertaking.

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