As we watch the terrible events unfold around us over the last several weeks all of us at Bella Vita Farm offer our support to those who have suffered racial injustice. Our country has struggled to confront its past of racism since the time of our Founding Fathers. The one issue which could not be settled by this esteemed group of men was the question of slavery. It was almost 100 years later when our country would nearly be torn apart by Civil War when the public issue of slavery would finally be laid to rest. As we all know the memory and impact of that history reverberates today in our schools, cities, financial institutions and health care systems.
The land on which Bella Vita Farm now sits has a long and storied history. The Mansion home and bank barn were built in 1860s right at the time of the Civil War. There is no doubt the land was likely tended to by slaves prior to that. The owner of the property at that time, Nicolas R Griffith, was considered a ‘southern sympathizer’, according to the historic record. We mention this to point out the fact that we all have a link to the past, both our collective and individual pasts. We must acknowledge that past, learn from it and work to change those things that have caused the inequalities of our present day.
When Amy and I purchased the farm in 2017 we shared a vision of a place that would honor the agricultural history of the land as well as create a place of community and wellness. Along with Angie, we have worked tireless hours to renovate the beautiful structures and grounds. We have sought to create a place of ‘collective joy’ through Sister Axe and the events we host. We have welcomed many of you onto the property to share in its beauty and history.
When we saw a need for fresh locally grown food we built a greenhouse to provide fresh greens and herbs year round to local restaurants and families. Amy and Jeff continue to grow both the food as well as the network of friends and ‘farmily’ who enjoy our produce. We have also tried to ‘give back’ a portion of our produce to local food banks and food kitchens. This time of COVID19 has only made that need all the greater.
We also acknowledge racial injustice does not change with mere words. It only changes if each one of us spends our personal time and efforts to make change happen. Two of my favorite quotes attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. are:
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
There is no doubt we are in a time of challenge and controversy. The question each of us must answer is where do we stand and what are we doing for others. At Bella Vita Farm we offer our property as a place to continue the conversation and invite all people to spend time to seek justice and change. We do so humbly knowing we do not know the answers. We are willing to learn through open dialogue and action to make the farm that place of community and wellness we envisioned. We invite each of you to join us in that effort.