“Growth has its seasons. There are spring and summer, but there are also fall and winter. And then spring and summer again. As long as the roots are not severed, all is well and all be well.”
– Jerzy Kosinski, “Being There”
Wise men and visionaries have always known, cognitively or intuitively, that there is something restorative in the alchemy of combining soil and toil.
From the Garden of Eden to Pearl Buck’s Good Earth and Wendell Berry’s quiet ruminations on the nature of Nature, the condition of the land and the condition of the human soul have been intuitively and expressly understood to be inextricably intertwined.
Here in Grand Cayman, Beacon Farms has tapped into a well of knowledge in making the focus of its business the growth of both seeds and planters. As told in today’s Front Page article about the program, organizers intend for the 34-acre property in Frank Sound to be a fully functioning, independent agricultural operation, involved in the production of everything from coconut oil to premium cigars.
In so doing, the farm offers honest work, a steady paycheck and a supportive environment to alumni of the Bridge Foundation halfway house for recovering addicts and reformed prisoners in West Bay.
About half of the Bridge Foundation’s graduates have historically been able to stay clean over the long term. Beacon Farms Executive Director Bud Volinsky hopes this “second phase” of support will provide opportunities for the other half similarly to thrive. The farm expands upon the Bridge Foundation’s mission to assist individuals in recovery, to strengthen the resiliency of Cayman’s community for future generations.
“We are taking the mothers and fathers of the children that have been abandoned for a while and bringing them back together so they can do their share in raising the children,” he told the Compass. “We are mending families.”
In these early days of operation, Beacon Farms is reliant on the U.S.-based Haugh Family Charitable Foundation, but organizers hope it will grow to sustain itself financially.
The farm offers a “proving ground” which will equip workers with skills, work history and references they can leverage to secure employment in other businesses, aligning with the farm’s agrarian cycle of planting, nurturing and harvesting. Rather than being left to the mercy of welfare checks or well-intentioned handouts, farmworkers earn decent wages and receive invaluable lessons in self-reliance and the dignity of labor.
As a whole, Beacon Farms is a straightforward initiative to help solve an issue – rehabilitation of offenders and addicts, and reintroduction into the greater community – that too often is shrouded in social stigmas, bureaucratic complexities and self-fulfilling feelings of hopelessness.
While others wring their hands and wrinkle their brows over the puzzling phenomenon of declining social conditions, the organizers and workers at Beacon Farms are plowing a direct path from problem to solution. All farmers know that the road to harvest does not run through tangled thickets of blue-ribbon commissions, consultancy reports and elaborate social service programs. What a seed needs to grow is water, sunshine and fertile ground.