Just on this piece of land, there used to be a one room log cabin, nine kids, seven cows two acres of tobacco and they picked
nuts and berries and made it. That’s what Becky’s grandpa used to say. So Tucker and I have been farming here for the last twelve years, ten with Organic Valley. The valley is such an important piece of the farm for us because this is where we hold our annual pumpkin patch. So we were really excited when Organic Valley reached out to us and asked if we wanted to collaborate on an art project with the barn, because this has always been a place that seems to draw community together. It was awesome when the artists, Pete, Aaron and Malena came and painted the barn. [Aaron] I was excited. I’ve always wanted to paint on a century
old, dilapidated barn like this, because I’ve drawn so many of them. It’s awesome. [Malena] Ok, well it’s going to be an outdoor mural on a barn. Oh and Aaron is going to work with us. And I was like, Ah, fantastic, this is sounding so amazing! So we painted day and night at a site that has no water and no electricity by the way! So we had to make it all happen. It was pretty amazing, honestly. Many years ago, I planted a quarter-acre of pumpkins and those four families I invited turned into four thousand people coming a year. It’s a feel good thing for me. I feel like there already is a rural renaissance of sorts and the formula for a renaissance involves art. When the pumpkin patch was open and they were painting, All they had to do was be in their own world and do what they loved doing and other people loved it. They had a way of just drawing people in. Doing public art and murals, it’s kind of a given that it’s temporary. Because it’s outdoors, right? The rains that brought flash flooding to many communities around the county are causing devastating damage to people’s homes and property. So yesterday morning when we came down, there’s a gap in the trees where I always peak down, you know, just looking at what we created. And I saw there was nothing and we pulled in and your heart just sank. So on Tuesday night we had a torrential downpour of fourteen inches and the dams gave way and we had a tidal wave come down through the valley and wiped everything out. The buildings have been here for a hundred plus years and all of a sudden, in a flash there they are, gone. I called Malena and Aaron like that same day. Their first reactions were really similar to mine, which was just like, “What can we do to help them?” And so I just did the first thing that came
to mind, which was climbing up in the debris piles and getting the boards. We put a lot of time and love into them and I feel like the project itself was really beautiful too. The art and the rural culture sort of meeting together. We’re at a time now where it’s really important that we’re encouraging rural culture. I think it’s important enough to people that we’ve got to bring something back. The feedback blew my mind. Just the caring and everybody reaching out. It didn’t take us very long to figure out that, you know, this had become a place that meant a lot to a lot of people, not just us. By having the pumpkin patch every year for the last thirteen, fourteen years, everybody had kind of a stake in this valley and this project that we had going. I think rural communities are extremely important. That whole sense of community and sense of family, that means a lot to us. And Organic Valley was a huge support after the flood. Wherever there’s a need, They’re there to help get people back on their feet. This will be another piece to the farm story, another piece of our evolution. It’s not a question, really, of rebuilding. We’re going to rebuild.