It has become now a tradition at The Barry Farm to host the fine young people from Parks Youth Ranch on Easter Sunday. This is a deeply personal event for those of us involved in pulling it off, as we have developed a small sense of ownership over the mission of the ranch. I feel as if those kids are my responsibility and should be loved as my own. For those that don't know me and my story as well a little background here is helpful. My parents are pastors and have faithfully served the church my entire life. My mother would never let a holiday slide without making sure that those in the church that found themselves alone or unable to cook for their families were loved and cared for. So never fail my childhood holiday celebrations were spent with the elderly, newly divorced, and single dads who had weekend custody of his kids, eating together in the fellowship hall of the church. Awwww....how sweet....uh.... check that nope... i hated it. It was work for us kids. We became food runners, drink refillers and napkin fetchers. My sweet hearted mother would make a typical Yankee Easter dinner complete with a honey baked ham, mashed potatoes, and green beans in giant electric roasters. High culinary technique this wasn't, but I now know that she was hitting her intended mark. My parents would pay for this meal out of their own pockets and never say a word of complaint. Only their spoiled oldest son dare complain about a scene like this one.
Fast forward 20 some odd years later and this unsettled feeling says in my gut " why is your Easter table empty?" Either heritage or tradition or guilt takes over reminding me there are 20 kids that live 5 minutes from the farm who would love to have green beans and ham at a 'normal' house. The children that make Parks Youth Ranch their home, do so on a temporary and emergency basis. Imagine being 12 and homeless? Can you put yourself in the shoes of a brother and sister who now have no parents because their mother just went to jail? As difficult as that is for me to wrap my head around, I find it equally as puzzling that at times we can pretend not to care about them at all. All of their problems are not fixable by coloring eggs and decorating cookies but one of their problems can be fixed: loneliness. For one afternoon they weren't alone and got to be with family and that just may mean the world to them.
Without the persistent push of all of our volunteers this event would never have become the amazing experience that it is each year. Don't quit! Don't stop! Don't wait for Easter! 365 days a year a homeless teen lives at parks youth ranch and would love a break from bearing the weight of the world on their young mind. Keep up the persistent push against the thing we can influence in their lives. Lets fight back against their loneliness. Lets beat off the isolation that draws them inward. Lets keep shaking the thoughts of inadequacy off their back. Even if it is only for today. Today can be the blessing.
Finally as a community that supports our work at the farm I want to extend a personal thank you. We really believe you should expect this kind of thing from farms. Hold us to this. If your farm and farm system is not a blessing to its community it is not a real farm. It your farm is just a menu item, a wholesaler, a flipper of produce or a purveyor they are not a farm. They may be in the food business but please don't let them call themselves farms. Farms have a connection to a place yes but what is a place void of its people? If we cannot continue to see the people that make up a farm community as essential to this process as the product we raise and grow we will be relegated to ho hum background that is the faux farm scene. Your farmers will continue to stay focused on the landscape of people that make a farm community vibrant and that includes those that need a helping hand.