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Mark Simonson

February 3, 2014

The Farm of Franklin became a 'commercial for God' in the 1970s


In yet another follow-up in December 1983, it was learned that at one point the membership had hit 100, but had since dwindled and that The Farm was disbanding.

Bob Reifel, then a five-year resident, said the community had fallen on hard times, collapsing under the weight of their generosity. Often, The Farm took in battered women, former mental patients and others they called cast off by society.

“The revolution for us,” Reifel said, “was overthrowing the state by taking over its job — taking care of people. Our hearts were always bigger than our pocketbooks, but we never really had the money to do all that.”

The Star reported on Friday, Feb. 3, 1984, that former members of The Farm had sold the land on Wednesday to a Vermont-based developer, Patten Realty Corp. for $129,000. Reifel said at that time there were no immediate plans to reassemble a similar community.

This weekend: A look back at our local life and times in February 1934.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at His website is His columns can be found at

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