Sustainable Berkshires: Learning to love the land at Abode of the Message

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By Wednesday, Jan 31 Life In the Berkshires  4 Comments
The stone stairway to the herb garden at Abode of the Message in New Lebanon, New York.

Editor’s Note: In the following essay Makiyla Levy, a senior at Monument Mountain Regional High School, explains why she was motivated to become an intern at Berkshire Grown.

There is a lot to be said for the raw feeling of natural beauty experienced when you walk through fields of pristine green, orange, red, and yellow. The smell so intensely true to the original earth. The pleasure of breathing unpolluted air. This is the feeling I was privileged enough to grow up knowing.

Long rows of brown and green stretch for miles in each direction as my small bare feet dig into the fresh dirt. I take off running through the row, past the lettuce and the tomatoes. I look around to see if I’m winning the race against my friend but she is right on my heels. We tumble down making the fastest stop we can, covering ourselves from head to toe in nature’s abundance. Plucking a green stem from the immense patch of baby spinach we feast on our favorite meal.

I was fortunate enough to have been raised caring for such a wonderful, nearly lost treasure. From a very young age my friends and I, who lived with the Sufi community, The Abode of the Message, took up exploration as our favorite pastime. With the Abode Farm just down one hill, and it being so mysteriously vast to young eyes, we often ended up playing in the fields. The farmers welcomed us warmly everyday as we ran past the piles of manure holding our noses. We would run to the small hoop barn where some women from the community would be organizing the crops into bundles. We walked around picking out which products we thought were the most perfect, before stepping outside and gazing out across the meadow of vegetables.

This land has been worked since 1785, the time that the Shakers had settled their community on the same territory in New Lebanon, N.Y., and just like this land, every farm has their own unique story to tell. These stories would be lost if it weren’t for the hard work and unwavering support from groups just like Berkshire Grown. Berkshire Grown has given our local farms someone to rely on for help when it seems as though community support has waned. The work that Berkshire Grown has put into educating and coordinating sales opportunities will keep farmers able to tell the story of their land for years to come.


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4 Comments   Add Comment

  1. john campanale says:

    Thank you Makiyla for having me get the value of community that lives with and honors raw nature. And especially having me get it in such poetic and pure way. Your words really took me there. Deepest gratitude!

  2. Aimee B Johnson says:

    What a pleasure, Makiyla, to read your essay! And what a joy it has been through the years to see so many children reveling in and connecting with nature at the Abode and Mountain Road School and Flying Deer Nature Center.

  3. Tim Diffenderfer says:

    Nice essay Makiyla !! Makes me remember wonderful times growing up; playing in the woods & working on the dairy farms in central PA.
    Keep up the good work.
    Lots o’ Luv,
    Tim 🙂

  4. Seth says:

    Makiyla, your descriptions illustrate a wonderful tactile sense of nature that is a profound gift. You are fortunate to have such a rich, living relationship with the green earth. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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