I have gotten a lot of good natured ribbing for how I spent a large part of my youth, but here's the story...friends of our family, Richard and Penny, who were Montessori teachers (yes, I went to a Montessori school and I think it was amazing) decided that they wanted to return to the simpler things in life, and, as the wife, Penny, had grown up on a farm, they decided to move back to a Farm with their five children. They chose to live in Millersburg, Ohio which is in the heart of the Amish community in Ohio and they lived according to most of the customs that that community upheld - no electricity, no phone, and self-sustainable farming.
They eventually developed a program that allowed children to come spend a week at a time with them living at, and working on, the farm. This wasn't a camp it was truly living as part of the Farm community. From age 5 on, I spent weeks and eventually my entire summers there. It was amazing. You learn a lot about life and work when, if you don't do your chores, animals don't eat. If animals don't eat, you don't have eggs, and milk the next morning. If you don't have milk, you can't have butter or cheese. If animals aren't cared for properly, when its time for butchering (and yes, I have butchered animals) your food is not of a good quality. If gardens aren't tended, you don't have vegetables. if you don't use composting, you don't have the value of self made mulch and fertilizer.
This program still runs today. Richard and Penny are still alive but now their children (my friends and peers) now do most of the day to day work. I will not share with you their program's name or website only because for years, they have eschewed publicity. They don't want the "masses" coming, rather they work through relationships and referrals for upwards of 30 years now and the program is still running strong.
It was such a simple way to live, and honestly, I can think of few aspects of my life that have made me happier. So much of who I am and how I look at life was forged through this experience: my skill of spinning and knitting, my love of cooking, my love for animals, my respect for all parts of the circle of life, my inherent desire to be as caring for the planet as possible - all came from my time at the Farm. As our world becomes more and more fast-paced and technology enhanced, (and yes, I love all of these things) I think that we are too quick to forget the lessons that those before us learned. There was a time when you were "green" not because it was a movement, or because it was "cool" but because it just made sense and made your life easier.
I cannot adequately put into words the immense gratitude for how Richard and Penny touched my life. Nor can I properly imagine how many they have influenced in a positive manner. They had the skill to look at life in a way that wove itself into so many lives without ever having to be "taught" or "preached". From skills, to values, to ways to look at life, Richard and Penny not only developed an amazing model of living but also found a way to extend it to touch others and, it was so much more than just "learning how to live and work a Farm". I will be forever grateful to them for what they have given me...
4 days ago