Have you ever really wondered what it’d be like to just walk into the forest–and stay there?
- What kind of a space would you live in?
- How would you find food and water?
- Would you hunt animals, garden, or both?
- Could you avoid civilization completely–if you wanted to?
About ten years ago, a couple set out into the North Carolina woodlands to answer these sorts of questions, and turned the woods into their permanent home.
The Wild Roots community is now a fully fledged commune that spans about 30 acres.
The commune was founded by Tod, along with his partner Talia.
Since 2007, Wild Roots has grown and evolved, and about 13 other people who now call the forest-community home.
While the general public may be familiar with the idea of commune-style living that’s build around common ideologies or shared belief systems, Wild Roots holds no such philosophy.
The major focus of their community is simply the desire to learn about living freely.
Wild Roots community has an incredibly extensive recommended reading list for folks who are interested in their way of life–the how and the why.
The community members strive to live in ways that minimize waste and prioritize learning of all kinds. They live without electricity or plumbing, and practice “earthskills” as much as possible.
The stream that runs through Wild Roots community is the only source of fresh drinking water for the group, and also provides water to bathe in.
Originally, Tod wanted to only eat food that he could freely forage on the land, but soon realized that it might be better to augment this diet with “society’s surplus”.
He and others drive into town about once a week in order to dumpster dive, since many stores throw perfectly good, fresh food away every day. They also use computers at a local library to speak with their families, or answer visitor inquiries from their website.
The members of Wild Roots know firsthand that living in the forest can be both freeing–and isolating.
Tod’s first efforts at building a home were challenging, for example. They used a traditional method called the Wattle and Daub technique, weaving saplings and logs together, and then plastering them with a mix of clay, sand, and straw.
The cabin they built was in a very moist location, however, and ultimately had to be abandoned due to mold issues.
Meals in the forest can be anything from typical American snacks and slightly over-ripe fruits and veggies (dumpster cuisine!), to much more adventurous fare.
Sometimes, local hunters will donate their kills to the Wild Roots community. This means that the members get a hands-on education in how to skin and process a felled deer (or even a bear) into cuts of meat, stew, and more. Every part of the animal is used in some way.
The days spent at Wild Roots are full of activity, since so many of the things its members need to survive must be handcrafted. Common pursuits include blacksmith work and woodworking, as well as cooking.
Depending on the weather and season, many of the members of the community travel elsewhere, or perhaps visit family and friends in the city. Sometimes Tod, the original founder of Wild Roots, finds himself entirely alone in his forest home.
What do you think? Would you love to spend your days in a forest commune, learning traditional skills and bathing in the creek?
All stunningly beautiful images in this post are by photographer Mike Belleme. You can see more of Mike Belleme’s work here.