In the bizarre world of the off-grid “TikTok commune” The Garden – and how it went up in flames because of the gruesome murder of a cat

A BRIT is at the center of a controversial survival commune in the US where a cat was killed and eaten and people walk around naked.

The Liverpool-born man, who goes by Tree, is the main spokesman for The Garden, which some TikTok users have described as a “cult” and is preparing for the “collapse of society”.

Tree is the main spokesperson for The Garden (pictured preparing the land for a


Tree is the main spokesperson for The Garden (pictured preparing the land for a “controlled burn”)Photo credit: Warner Bros
Tree admits he only showers once a month


Tree admits he only showers once a monthPhoto credit: treeisalive/tiktok

The garden was founded in Tennessee by American Patrick Martion, who claims “society must be burned to ashes” and his goal is to “change the whole world.”

Patrick, who grew up in the controversial hippie Rainbow Collective, insists it is more of a commune than a cult.

The garden claims to be self-sufficient by growing its own food and generating its own fuel.

It became a social media sensation three years ago when some TikTok users claimed it was a cult that mistreated animals and forced members to work.

The controversy spiraled out of control and anonymous trolls threatened to set fire to the bus and buildings on the 22-acre site.

On March 26, 2021, The Garden closed its doors to outsiders and for two and a half years no one knew what was going on behind the gates of this secluded clan.

But now they have begun welcoming potential new “gardeners” to build a second commune on a 55-acre property in Missouri.

Now, a new six-part documentary series on the Discovery Channel called “The Garden: Cult or Commune” follows 36-year-old prepper Tyler Milligan as he chooses a life of defecating in the woods.

Garden member Julia leads a meeting about what they should bring to the new garden


Garden member Julia leads a meeting about what they should bring to the new gardenPhoto credit: Warner Bros
The garden's founder, Patrick Martion, burns land ready for growing crops


The garden’s founder, Patrick Martion, burns land ready for growing cropsPhoto credit: Warner Bros

Former military man Tyler, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and anger issues, warns: “I am not afraid of violence. I have no problem killing anyone.”

Naked truth

He seems out of place among the members – who include a man wearing a cardboard raccoon mask, another named Goat and a woman who says the “universe” told her to sign up.

But Tyler was content with the fact that the people around him were ready to take off their clothes at any time.

The mostly long-haired group sheds all their clothing to frolic along a path and then swim naked in a small lake.

In an interview about his time on the Discovery Channel show, Tyler said: “I’m not shy. I’m naked quite often.”

I’m not afraid to commit violence. I have no problem killing anyone

Tyler Milligan

The garden will certainly not be an attractive utopia for most people.

Tree admits he showers “once a month” and viewers see him digging his own hole to go to the toilet.

Its diet includes eating food from garbage cans, and most of its fuel supply appears to come from felled trees in the countryside.

There are clips of locals lighting huge pyres, which seems to contradict claims that they are fighting climate change.

Not every luxury is avoided, as the Tennessee location has a sauna and a pool table.


An old school bus in which Garden members sleep at the Tennessee location


An old school bus in which Garden members sleep at the Tennessee locationPhoto credit: Facebook

The collective has a strong hippie vibe and claims on its website to be a “leaderless” community that is a “place to germinate, bloom and grow in harmony with nature.”

Many of the people are anarchists who reject authority; Patrick emphasizes: “I’m not the leader of the group.”

But he represents the idea that humanity needs to prepare for an apocalypse.

Patrick, who owns the Tennessee site, says, “My prediction is that we will see significant societal collapse by 2030.”

He grew up in the 1970s hippie collective Rainbow Family of Living Light, which is reportedly on the FBI watch list.

The “peace meetings” still take place, although they are linked to drugs and two women were murdered on their way to a meeting in 1980.

Cat killing

The Garden insists it is a peaceful group. But TikTokers cast doubt on that when Tree revealed that a cat had been caught and killed.

In the documentary he admits: “It was a feral cat that killed 30 of our chickens.

“After the cat was killed, it was assumed that the cat had protein, so people tried to cook and eat it. A few bites of it and they thought it was disgusting.”

The film also shows the extent of the paranoia in the camp.

Newcomer Narayah is treated with suspicion because she keeps a diary and films what is happening.

Tree calls her “Spy Narayah” and admits, “I’ve been extremely paranoid since the whole TikTok drama.”

He also believes that American secret agents are “definitely after us.”

At the end of the first episode, there is a confrontation between Tree and Narayah, where she calls the police after claiming he stole her phone.

The anti-establishment group, which avoids the authorities, will not like this.

But Tree, who says traveling helped him cure his Tourette’s disease, isn’t against all social conventions.

He is married to The Garden member Julia Heim, an American who plays a key role in organizing the commune.

Spread the views

The group’s “poop garden.”


The group’s “poop garden.”Photo credit: treeisalive/tiktok
Tree and Julia cook some fries


Tree and Julia cook some friesPhoto credit: treeisalive/tiktok

The couple doesn’t spend all of their time at The Garden, but also travel to other locations.

The question is: what message are they spreading?

They all seem to have accepted Patrick’s idea that humanity is heading for a fatal collapse.

Tree explains, “Of course society will collapse,” while Juila notes that people are “completely unprepared.”

The Garden’s population, which has existed for nearly a decade and a half, fluctuates; It could be as few as five people or around 100 people.

Many left after TikTok users tried to expose what they said was a dangerous cult, leading to death threats against The Garden.

Death threats

Tree said a few years ago: “They were real threats. People said they would set buses on fire and then come and really hurt people.”

Tyler, who runs a private investigation firm with his wife in Colorado Springs, appeared to be unharmed by his 10 days at The Garden.

Although it doesn’t sound appetizing. He said: “I was happy living in a tent and eating rubbish.

“It really made me think about what I should do with my life.”

“The Garden: Commune or Cult” airs November 15 at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.

Julia, middle, with her husband Tree (right) in the garden


Julia, middle, with her husband Tree (right) in the gardenPhoto credit: Warner Bros
Moon plays guitar around The Garden's campfire


Moon plays guitar around The Garden’s campfirePhoto credit: Warner Bros
Tom looks after the chickens, which are kept for eggs and feed


Tom looks after the chickens, which are kept for eggs and feedPhoto credit: Warner Bros

John Verrall

John Verrall is a Nytimas U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. John Verrall joined Nytimas in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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