He walked barefoot and topless through the dirt and plants in a white skirt that bounced around his slender calves. His tan, tall muscular body glided through the gardens and his handsome face framed the longest goatee I’d ever seen, braided and intertwined with silver beads. An iPhone was tucked securely in a makeshift pocket as he carried his infant son through my tour of the Garden of Eden.
All the stereotypes I had of communal living came true the day I met Quinn Eaker, and a big part of me wanted to be in all the way. Another part of me wanted to run — fast — for the safety of the suburbs.
“Do you ever eat bugs?” Eaker, 34, asks me.
“I did one time at a museum,” I say. “And it was terrible.”
At the moment, bugs were eating me. Of course a commune that condemns chemicals and emphasizes sustainability wouldn’t have bug repellant with Deet. Today, my bare legs bore the brunt of such natural living.
“How are you not getting bit?” I ask.
“It’s a state of mind,” Eaker says. “Everything is energy.”
Off a country road in the middle of one of largest metropolitan areas in the country, sits the Garden of Eden, a commune in Kennedale that’s home to 15 to 20 people depending on the day. This “ecovillage” strives to free its residents from the typical westernized culture of siloed living and materialism — a culture that leaves me lonely and stressed out most days, but also happy to have air conditioning and Trader Joe’s.
This mysterious place is just five minutes down the road from a new development with polished $300,000 homes. Their antithesis to such opulence in this rural landscape is hidden behind a high fence; visitors have to ring a bell to enter. The Garden of Eden sits on more than three acres of land, which includes a really cool outdoor cooking space, an Airbnb dwelling, piles of collected trash, rows of gardens, trees, an old hot tub turned into a pool for the kids, a large composting patch, oddly appealing outdoor showers, unappealing but creatively constructed outdoor bathrooms, and a standard 4,000-square-foot house. The house has air conditioning, but Quinn doesn’t use it. He says recirculated air is unhealthy and it costs money to run. I think it’s hot as shit outside and I’d have that baby cranked up no matter how natural I aspired to be.