An unforgettable firsthand account of how the hippie movement flowered in the late 1960s, appeared spent by the Thatcher-consumed 1980s, yet became the seedbed for progressive reform we now take for granted-and continues to inspire generations of rebels and visionaries.
“Fairlie has a refreshingly declarative style: he’s analytical, funny and self-aware. . . His memoir has much to offer anyone interested in movement history or in the future of intentional communities.”-Elizabeth Royte, Food & Environment Reporting Network
At a young age, Simon Fairlie rejected the rat race and embarked on a new trip to find his own path. He dropped out of Cambridge University to hitchhike to Istanbul and bicycle through India. He established a commune in France, was arrested multiple times for squatting and civil disobedience, and became a leading figure in protests against the British government’s road building programs of the 1980s and-later-in legislative battles to help people secure access to land for low impact, sustainable living.
Over the course of fifty years, we witness a man’s drive for self-sufficiency, freedom, authenticity, and a deep connection to the land.
Fairlie grew up in a middle-class household in leafy middle England. His path had been laid out for him by his father: boarding school, Oxbridge, and a career in journalism. But everything changed when Simon’s life ran headfirst into London’s counterculture in the 1960s. Finding Beat poetry, blues music, cannabis and anti-Vietnam War protests unlocked a powerful lust to be free. Instead of becoming a celebrated Fleet Street journalist like his father, Simon became a laborer, a stonemason, a farmer, a scythesman, and then a magazine editor and a writer of a very different sort. In Going to Seed he shares the highs of his experience, alongside the painful costs of his ongoing search for freedom-estrangement from his family, financial insecurity, and the loss of friends and lovers to the excesses and turbulence that continued through the 70s and 80s.
Part moving, free-wheeling memoir, part social critique, Going to Seed questions the current trajectory of Western “progress”-and the explosive consumerism, growing inequality, and environmental devastation laid bare in our daily newsfeeds-and will resonate with anyone who wonders how we got to such a place. Simon’s story is for anyone who wonders what the world might look like if we began to chart a radically different course.