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Spikenard Farm Special Update
Issue No. 4

News Update from Spikenard Apiary

 October 12, 2009

In this autumn season, governed by increasing darkness and coldness, we draw on the balancing forces of our heart and the clarity of our mind to gain the courage needed to cope with all that storms in on us, from world events to daily challenges. We have hoped, through our monthly e-newsletters and seasonal mailings, to bring you closer to our work and the life of the honeybee. However, we take pause now to share more momentous news of Spikenard's move to Virginia.

Much has happened in the past six months. On the positive side, we had beautiful development of the honeybee colonies and a good honey harvest. The market garden and a vibrant stand at a St. Louis farmers' market have progressed well. We've enjoyed enlivening visits by school groups, especially by teachers and families from the Shining River Waldorf School in St. Louis who have truly connected to the land, the bees, chickens and pigs. The eight interns we were blessed to have with us this season brought so much youthful vigor and joy into our days.

The challenges we experienced lay predominantly in the economic and social realms, raising questions about how the few members of the core group, on the one hand, could form a common vessel, open for the inspirations derived from our vision and mission. On the other hand, we have struggled with determining how we could go into the future with more financial security. With the economic downturn it has become increasingly difficult to put in place the infrastructure, coworkers and machinery still needed for the farm.

The difficulties have shaken our foundation, raising serious questions about what changes are necessary to ensure a vibrant and safe future for the organization. The questions and concerns raised at our Spring Board of Directors meeting became reality faster than we had foreseen. We discovered that only the educational and honeybee enterprises were on target with the projected budget and that the farm itself would take longer than expected to become financially sustainable.

After forming a committee which explored a number of options, the Board of Directors came to the decision in late August to move Spikenard Farm, Inc. to a new location, so that it can best fulfill its mission. The details of our relocation will be shared a few weeks, after the move. Our plan is to be situated in Floyd, Virginia near Roanoke, by the end of October.

It was a very difficult decision to leave the land we have worked for two years with great enthusiasm and vigor. We are grateful for the understanding that the farm will continue to be farmed biodynamically. The land is in the process of being certified organic and is poised to obtain Demeter certification next year. We are very grateful to the owner of the land, who understands our move and is willing, together with the farmer couple, to continue what we started as a pioneering undertaking in Carrollton, Illinois: to bring biodynamic agriculture to the American heartland. We wish them all the very best success and my input into the biodynamic practices on the farm will continue. It is deeply gratifying to know that we will continue our work in reciprocal support for each emerging venture.

Spikenard Farm and Apiary was fortunate to find its new location. Floyd is in a beautiful area in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Roanoke, Virginia that already has a biodynamic presence and a developing supportive community. We have been offered a 25-acre parcel on a 160 acre farm under a 99 year lease. The land has been used for grazing cattle and the best 50 acres are to be developed biodynamically for orchards, vegetable production and pastures. Fifty acres are set aside for a co-housing development.

Our decision to move the organization to this location is based on a number of considerations.

  • Given the economic situation, Spikenard can move forward more safely by not having to carry the expenses needed to fully develop a farm operation.
  • We will now be able to focus on the heart of our vision: a honeybee sanctuary; and research, educational and therapeutic programs for adults and children.
  • The location is safer for the bees: a more diverse ecology of pastures, hayfields and forests will surround us; and the vicinity to the Blue Ridge Parkway gives us the opportunity to reach out to visitors interested in a deeper understanding of nature and the plight of the honeybee.
  • Floyd is a vibrant little town with a variety of environmental, health-oriented and artistic enterprises, giving support that will sustain our social work.
  • The Floyd planned BD farm and co-housing development will offer possibilities for partnerships in building a community, without the financial responsibility of carrying all.

We expect the transition from Illinois to Virginia to happen quickly. This month, the bees, equipment, farm machinery, tools and much more will be transported to the new location.

It is our great wish and hope that all of you who have provided the warmth and financial means for our accomplishments, will understand that to give up one part of the vision -- doing this work in the heartland -- does not diminish the importance of the overarching mission. We are moving forward on a more prudent financial footing and re-focusing our work more clearly on the honeybees and education.

We know this information may come as a surprise to you - events, just decided this fall, have moved quickly. We feel blessed to have the ability to still make our move to Virginia this season and we are deeply grateful for your understanding and positive thoughts in this process of transition. There is no doubt that the honeybee crisis, which has its direct influence on the future of our human evolution, needs our hard work and strong commitment. We are intent on giving both.

With warm wishes for a strong heart and bright spirit in this Michaelmas season,

Gunther Hauk
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News Update from Spikenard Apiary
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