Jude is a senior student at Portland State University, studying environmental science. He was raised on a farm, but escaped his abusive ultra-religious parents as soon as he could. Although he identifies as gay, Jude has been so traumatized by his parents that he has had trouble forming any kind of relationship with another man. Jude enjoys visiting the farmers market held on campus every Saturday, and especially enjoys talking to Hudson, who operates a booth for Kaleidoscope Gardens. Hudson is dealing with his own demons, but definitely enjoys Jude's company. When he finally tells Jude about the true nature of the farm, it sets them both down a path of self discovery.
The idea of a place like Kaleidoscope Gardens, where people whose sexuality falls outside of general society's binary fixation can live in relative peace, may seem a bit too good to be true, but it does provide an interesting backdrop to explore some interesting ideas. Jude's abusive parents have left him practically dysfunctional sexually. Is the commune the best place for him to learn how to open up sexually?
Hudson's path to the farm wasn't that much different than Jude's, but that doesn't necessarily make it easier for him to help the younger man through his issues, especially when Hudson is so attracted to Jude, yet also fearful of being abandoned by yet another person he grew close to. Although surrounded by many friends and lovers, Hudson still sometimes feels isolated and alone.
Characters with a lot of emotional baggage can be difficult to write about, but Jude and Hudson come across as very real people, and their stories come out quite naturally in the course of the story. You may not be able to identify with them if you haven't been through anything like they have, but you can still come to a reasonable understanding of them. The two main characters are surrounded by a rich set of men and women at the farm who also come across as real people with stories of their own.
“Farm Fresh” is available from Amazon.