A Visit to Glencolton Farms
(Note: The farm is in dire need of funds to help cover legal fees. A crowdfunding page is available for anyone who would like to support the farm’s court costs and other case-related costs. They appreciate every donation.)
Earth who gives to us this food,
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dearest Earth and Dearest Sun
We will not forget what you have done.
Then we all held hands and said together, “Blessings on this meal.”
Perhaps it was the simplicity that made me smile. Or maybe it was the newness—I’d never heard a pre-meal blessing that was so simple. But there it was, we were all sitting around the table at Glencolton Farms saying this blessing before a steaming bowl of carrot and ginger soup topped with all the sour cream we could want. A wheel of freshly made brie and homemade rolls dripping with fresh butter and glasses full of fresh, creamy milk completed the meal. “Wow,” I thought. “Does food really get any better than this? Certainly this prayer works. We have in front of us all the goodness and abundance one could want in their food!”
Here I was, eating a meal that was produced mainly on this farm. The butter, sour cream and milk, all came from these cows. The cheese was from their milk and made right there. The bread, baked in the bakery downstairs, and the soup—made from their own carrots and chicken stock.
Yet, there was a cloud. It was subtle because everyone in the family, and the staff on the farm, behaves with grace and class, but the cloud was clearly there. The feeling was that of a dark dampness. A cold air that you feel in your bones. Even so, the ambience of the farm beckoned to each of us, encouraging hope, like the spontaneous sunshiny smiles of the children.
There was no walking on eggshells. We all knew what it was. And is. It is the looming court case against Michael, Elisa, their children, the farm—this time encompassing the whole community who is nourished by the Glencolton Farms. It affects us all.
I recognized it. Grief. That ever-present grief as you witness the attempted destruction of something beautiful. I had a faint memory back to the wedding scene in Fiddler on The Roof when armed police demolished the gifts the community gave to the newly married couple and threatened their celebration. The scene, a foreshadowing of the violence they would become victim to.
But there we were, eating this amazing food while the occasional sunbeam escaped the clouds to play on the hillsides, a mirror to the graciousness and generosity of my hosts even through their tension.
After the meal ended, it was fun to explore the farm for a few minutes.
To see chickens running around, many in the apple orchard that Michael had so lovingly planted 33 years prior.
To see where history was made in the Symphony barn. The worn wood of the barn etched deeply with the character of every artist who had been there, embedded with the sighs of the audience. The rafters still echoing the music that permeated the hayloft, the light and shadows creating a mirage of the theatrics once celebrated here. Every beam, every floorboard, every step telling a story. Some stories from years ago, some so recent it felt like I could touch the characters in them, especially as Michael wove the tales together as he cast an appreciative eye about. “Those days were gone now,” he said. “A law was passed that prohibited cultural events on Glencolton Farms.”
The cows—unaware of the human anxiety their milk was causing—went about their business as usual, glancing their golden gazes at each approaching human, suspicious and then allowing them into their warm space.
The barn was alive. Alive with the vibrancy and energy infused into it with so many marvels, so many unique bovine, ovine, equine, canine and feline personalities. Each nametag above a stall the glimpse of a story—I wanted to know them all. Who is Orchid and how did she get her name?
Those would all be stories for another day. It was time to go back inside to the office. We began to read, to write, to share ideas while the farm called to each of us with a different tune. Outside, the cold day darkened further. Kids were soon put to bed and lights turned on. We worked well into the night.
The next morning the sky was pregnant with heavy clouds and a fiercely whipping wind was howling as we made our way walking through the pre-dawn dark to the truck. Would the rain hold off or would we become soaked in our endeavors? Driving, we wound our way through the roads watching the wipers clear the windshield over and over. Rhythmic. Like the splash, splash of milk into the pail.
As we approached the courthouse, the rain faded but the wind did not. Cold and fierce, we hoped it would not deter people. “Please be there,” was our silent prayer.
They were there. In flocks. With smiles, and hats and gloves. People brought babies and families to join in the celebration.
Back at the farm, the dark puddles began to reflect a bluer sky, tiny, tear-drop buds braved the wind to show up against the stark brown leaves while the kittens drank what was given to them.
At the courthouse, we celebrated our food, our communities and our farms. Speakers lined up to talk about law, communities, our farms and court.
The chickens danced in the muddy orchard with the sun now on their backs. The cows glanced again at the humans, still unaware. The sheep baa-ed their greetings while the kittens continued lapping furtively from their frothy milk. Warm welcoming beams danced down from the sky into the barn windows turning the dust to gold as only sunbeams can.
At the courthouse, word spread quickly from mouth to mouth “we need a bigger room.” A larger room was granted. We laughed, we celebrated. We fed each other, nourished by the community. We toasted to food freedom. We sent our blessings 200 kilometers away to the cows, the chickens, the kittens and the sheep, silently thanking them for their contributions to our meal, to our lives. Them, not knowing the upheaval their innocent nature caused.
Court was done for the day. Postponed for now, but far from over.
Back on the farm, Luna, the farm dog loped up the driveway, anticipating our return. The wind blew gently now, a comforting, welcoming breeze.
Next to the diminishing snow banks, the flowers pushed through the thawed ground, illuminated by the bright sunshine that now permeated the farm. Hope, singing her warm tune like the never-forgotten memories in every corner of Glencolton’s barn. A song that penetrates through the years, through the heartache and settles into a quiet, strengthening gratitude.
We tumbled into the farm house, exhausted but fulfilled. Another meal, provided by Glencolton Farms. Another blessing.
Earth who gives to us this food
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dearest Earth and Dearest Sun,
We will not forget what you have done.
Blessings on this meal.
Blessings on this farm.
Wherever you are in your personal journey toward clean living and local food, thank you for joining me in mine. I look forward to sharing it with you.