I left my cabin at 4:15 and stopped at Shrums to get some tractor parts and vetch seed. At that time, the barn was fine, and no one else was at the farm. Phil had gone home for the day and Anthony and Kristina had gone to Cookeville.
I drove back to the shop where a garage door was being replaced with a wall. Steve informed me my barn was burning down. He had gotten a call from Kristina who had gotten a call from Paula that the barn was ablaze.
My driveway was full of emergency vehicles and the fire department were busy containing the fire. What a blessing it is to have such committed volunteers and they did a great job.
Paula noticed the fire soon after getting here a little before 5:00. She called 911 and took a picture showing the loft in flames, but not the tractor underneath. I keep the battery disconnected, so that was not the cause. The barn has no electricity, so we don’t know what could have caused the fire.
What was in it? All of our seed garlic which I have been saving for over 35 years, over 100 square bales of hay, a tractor, various tools including ones that I got from my father who is long gone now, a few instruments, a few tents, and various other items.
We will build a new barn for the onion, garlic and hay storage, along with a shop for storing and working on equipment. We are hoping to do this before Spring.
We will also build intern housing, which we already have the foundation built for. It will have four bedrooms and be a temporary home for future organic farmers and visitors. We will build this with local, rough cut lumber during the off season this winter.
Our farm has always been open to the public because of my belief in the importance of sharing organic farming knowledge and experience. We are extremely grateful to all who have helped us in the fields over the years, which allows me time to write, lecture, consult, and help other organic farmers. Our gratitude would greatly increase with a show of public support for what we do with any and all donations to our building projects.
The beneficiaries of this funding will include the interns and farm visitors who come to learn first hand from experiences organic farmers. Instead of a loft in a barn or tent, they will have a home with a bathroom and kitchen. We can increase the number and quality of our intern program with this. Whoever they eventually grow organic food for will also benefit.
As the organic movement spreads, the benefits will include more local jobs, better health for people and a healthier environment with less dependency on chemicals. With increased help on the farm, I will be freer to help other, younger farmers by lecturing, consulting, researching, organizing organic conferences, writing, producing television segments for PBS, and making biodynamic preparations available.
A new barn will benefit the cows, our customers, the mechanics, and those who come here to learn about how a farm operates, because farms need barns.