Barn Raising

For many years, we have been members of a horse-powered CSA farm here in our town, the only one that I know of in our area. Four beautiful Belgians are the only means of power; used to plow, harrow, plant, cultivate and haul. Hay is cut, raked and gathered the old-fashioned way with horses doing the heavy work. In winter, they haul sledges of firewood from the woods to the farmhouse.

The garden season runs June through the end of October with weekly pickups of the freshest, most gorgeous, organic vegetables around. Local means fresh!


The farm in dormancy, awaiting spring.

I look forward to opening day every year with its first spring greens. It’s a party and often the horses pull us around the farm in the big wagon with hay bale seating. Throughout the season they offer potluck suppers, music and dancing. Weekly pick-ups are very social, with friends catching up and little kids running around, playing in the sand box or climbing the tall pine just outside the door. On hot days, folks can swim in the river.

We are so fortunate to have this farming family as members of our community. End of the season is a sad time for me, for I know I’ll miss the food and the social scene, but by then my farmer friends are plumb worn out and look forward to enjoying the slower pace that winter affords them.

ImageYesterday, they had an old-fashioned barn-raising, the first that I have ever witnessed first-hand. A thing of the past, although Amish farmers continue the practice today, it was an amazing thing to see right here in town. Like worker bees, swarms of men and women volunteers (including some Amish), converged on the site to make short work of the task of raising the sides, roof trusses and rafters.



The owners’ ten year-old daughter created many helpful signs, directing us from the parking lot across the river to the barn site, to the food and the restrooms, including a reminder to respect the religious practices of the Amish.

The suspension foot bridge over the river to the farm fields. Wobbly, a bit like the funhouse at the fair!

The suspension foot bridge over the river to the farm fields. Wobbly, a bit like the funhouse at the fair!


Thankfully, the most recent, frigid polar vortex had abated the previous day and the day was sunny, practically balmy with temperatures in the mid-40s – Tee-shirt weather for those banging nails.


Farmer David, readying a rafter.

Farmer David, readying a rafter.

As my spouse and I were not apt to climb, nor hammer, we showed our support by bringing food for the volunteers. A buffet was set up and people came and went throughout the day as hunger and thirst demanded.


Farmer Anna (right) discusses food set-up & childcare with volunteer. Their greenhouse & home are in the background.

Just like on pickup days, neighbors eagerly emerging from their winter hibernation chatted and laughed, catching up on the latest news. Children of all ages, from babies in backpacks to older ones racing around, enlivened the scene.


A bit of gossip, some nostalgia, exchanging viewpoints, enjoying the beautiful weather. I felt happy to see what community-supported agriculture is all about; people connected in a common cause, contributing to the greater good.

If you are interested in learning more or finding a CSA in your area, click the link above which has information on community-based agriculture and directories of local food sources by zip code.

Update: Here’s a link for a one-minute, time-lapse video of the barn going up by Ben Barnhart (his real name!):

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
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35 Responses to Barn Raising

  1. wspines says:

    Thank you Eliza for sharing such a wonderful day with us. Its good to see these wonderful things happening so close by. We are so lucky to live in this farming area.

  2. This is really quite spectacular! I live in a neighborhood where people go out of their way to NOT talk to each other and will cross to the other side of the road if they think you might engage them in conversation. It’s so absurd and truly pathetic. When I’m out in the front garden in my holey gardening clothes, people just stare. I even had someone tell me that I should just ‘hire a Mexican’ to do it all for me. Sad… It would have been amazing to be a part of something this united.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thanks for your comment. It is common thing in cities, I guess. Maybe there’s just too many people to greet, so folks just shut down. Overstimulation, fear and lack of trust? I’ve lived in a city and though I,too, closed down, at the same time I yearned for connection. Glad I moved back home,
      I prefer the country. It is calmer and quieter 🙂

      • i actually live in a suburb touted as ‘a family friendly community’. I guess everyone forgot about the ‘friendly’ and ‘community’ parts of the sales pitch.

      • Eliza Waters says:

        Gosh, so sad. Makes you just want to find a way to touch their hearts and release them from their self-imposed separation. We’re all the same inside and whether they know it or not, our hearts are all connected. ‘Awaken and live in joy!’ Maybe you could have a continuously streaming funny pet video! or how about a chalkboard where every day you put up an inspiring message! Find a way to crack the armor! 🙂

  3. Treah says:

    Very nice posting….words & photos both. I’m encouraged to see these kind of events all around me here in Vermont as well. This good stuff is spreading & that gives me hope for this sometimes very dark world.

  4. Sharon K. says:

    Terrific images, Eliza. I just love them all, but the top one looks like a painting!

    We’re part of a local CSA, and it’s wonderful. Very much looking forward to the first delivery this spring!

  5. mk says:

    I’m in awe. What a wonderful place & community you live in. A real, natural place populated by friendly supportive people. Your pictures make it come alive for those of us who (seem to) live on a different planet.

  6. It looks like a great community effort.

  7. Looks like you had a great day. Reminds me of my first days in our small village. Every time I stuck my nose outside the door somebody would say hello or good morning. I was flabbergasted. I had lived in Lodon for a while and never knew who my neighbour was. It took me a while to realise that they were just being friendly and did not want anything from me… Sad, indeed. Now I join the bunch, and salute everybody I meet, anywhere. It is so very easy to be friendly and supportive. We just forget about it in the rush of our lives.

  8. Spectacular!

    We are all one. And get-togethers like this reinforce that.

    So, did they finish the barn in one day?

  9. this just carried such a sense of community, obviously, and joy. Just looking at the pictures makes one want to join in. And, oh, the history! What a way to touch the past in the best possible sense. You really have found a special place.

  10. Robbie says:

    A beautiful photo essay! What a great community you live in + look at all that organic food you get to eat all spring-fall. You are very blessed to live in such a great community. That is the way is should be every place:-)

  11. ladyfi says:

    What beautiful shots!

  12. mfryan says:

    So cool!! I can’t tell you how much I miss my CSA membership from my days in San Diego. Thanks for bringing back the memories!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      You are welcome. It was a fun event to share. You may miss your CSA, but to my memory the food was beyond wonderful in Italy. It is I who am envious of you! All that daily FRESH within walking distance!

      • mfryan says:

        You’re totally right. Living in Italy is like living in one big CSA. 😉 Actually there is a really popular movement here (around much of Europe maybe) called “Slow Food,” promoting the use of fresh, organic, whole ingredients. It is pretty cool. 🙂

  13. Eliza Waters says:

    I have heard of the Slow Food movement. I looked it up on and found out it started in Bra, Italy in 1986. It is now in 150 countries with over 100,000 members. Definitely cool. 🙂

  14. What a wonderful sense of community we can all build when we work together with a shared sense of purpose, thank you for such a compelling story and great photographs

  15. Pingback: Green Building Elements | From brick and mortar shops to city planning, we cover sustainable trends in construction, renovation, and more.

  16. Such a wonderful spirit of community! Beautifully expressed, Eliza!

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