A Homestead Headlines Article by Chuck Oldenburg
The following notice appeared in the July/August 1971 Homestead Headlines:
“If an alternative life style housing co-operative interests you, phone one of these three numbers: (3 numbers were listed). 12 acres are available to 12 families for building a community. You build your own home and help build community facilities, such as a sauna, organic food garden, barn; very much thought will go into the eco-system. Time is of the essence. The property is at the edge of Homestead Valley, and the offer won’t hold long.”
Thus began the Housing Cooperative: twelve families with a vision of living lightly on the land, reducing consumption of resources, and creating an interdependent community. The land would be owned in common, each family would live in a separate house, and a central lodge would provide for such functions as laundry, cooking and dining. There would be a workshop with jointly owned tools, a central garage with community-owned cars, a co-op nursery school and a community garden. Work parties would preserve food from the garden as well as food bought in bulk. Community meals would be prepared by different families taking turns. Gray water would be used for the garden and the toilets. Parking would be along the main road and in the central garage. Foot paths would lead to the houses.
The land was purchased in 1972.Two architects in the group drew up plans for the lodge. The group chose the name Amaranth, an imaginary undying flower (amaranth is also a grain). The Amaranth Cooperative project was underway, but things didn’t work out exactly as envisioned. Costs escalated. The lodge became unaffordable. MMWD had problems with the gray water system. Banks would not finance a co-operative. Amaranth Co-operative evolved to become Amaranth, Inc.
Project plans for 12 conventional homes were presented to the County Planning Commission in 1973. The first family moved in on New Year’s Eve 1975. Several housing cooperative concepts survived the evolution. Although there is no central lodge, homeowners share maintenance responsibility for the jointly-owned portion of the 12-acre parcel. None of the homes has a garage. There are two parking lots on Amaranth Blvd. One of the houses is accessible only by footpath. Other footpaths lead to Homestead Open Space and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Views are spectacular. Amaranth, the imaginary undying flower, lives on.
If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.