On Sunday mornings, around 9AM my sister rings my doorbell with iced coffee and doughnuts in hand. We pile into my car and head to “The Farm.” The Farm is in Cranston, RI where my aunt Diane runs a dressage school and horse farm. We have been going to The Farm on weekends and vacations since I can remember – in fact for both us this is the place that we have been going to the longest. My family has moved, my grandparents have moved, but The Farm stays on 7 Mile Rd. It stays hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It smells sweetly of horse manure, pointing me to manual labor and promising a good night’s sleep.
To be fair, my sister Alyssa, is a lot closer to this place than I am. She goes up several times a week to ride and spend time with my Aunt. I come on the weekends to remember how it felt to be eleven and free on the back of who ever’s horse I could borrow for a moment – and to visit my grandmother who lives down the street and looks forward to every visit.
Since I started working at Farm Aid, The Farm, otherwise known as Woodwind Farm, stays in the back of my mind. Not because it has a lot in common with a corn farm in Iowa or a veggie patch in Vermont but because it grounds me with an understanding of what it means to love a place – to feel at home picking rocks at noon or hauling buckets of water when it is 20 below.
My aunt is selling The Farm this summer. The stress of running a business that is dependent on weather, unreliable labor and a number of other troubling factors has weighed heavily on her over the years. Her horses and clients will move to another farm and she is looking for a new home. I can’t help but put on my Farm Aid hat to try and come up with a solution. But the truth is, she is looking forward to a change. Her land is valuable and will hopefully help her plan for an eventual retirement. She will be able to enjoy a snowstorm without running to the barn on the hour.
We hope that who ever buys the land will love it just like we do, that future generations will be happy to wake up early on a Sunday to cut grass and shovel manure just because beautiful places deserve to be cared for. Most of all, I hope that The Farm will stay with us all long after 7 Mile Rd. ceases to be our Sunday morning destination.