22nd September, 2014
Our second stop was Better Farm in Redwood, New York. Way, way, way, up north. 12 miles south of Canada. On the long drive up, I gave some thought to Émile Coué’s experiment (in the late 1900s) of having patients meditate every day on the idea that we’re all, it’s all, getting better in every way all the time and the powerfully positive results of that experiment – including, but not limited to, my favorite John Lennon song to fall asleep to, “Beautiful Boy”.
Better Farm is situated around a gorgeous old farm-house that Nicole’s uncle, Stephen, moved in to in the seventies, after he became a paraplegic in a car accident at the age of 21. About a dozen of his friends moved there too to help take care of him, which is so incredibly touching when you stop to think about. That story in and of itself could bring me to (amazed, happy!) tears, what Nicole has done with the place since inheriting it several years ago is equally as awe-inspiring.
Nicole has made Better Farm a sustainability education center, and hub of social activity, learning, art, and music for the community. She and Mollica, the incredible farm manager, along with other friends, teach visitors about gardening, farming, cooking, composting, aquaponics and other sustainable methods of living better.There are 2 gorgeous dogs, Han Solo and Cobyashi, (I’ve been vibing HARD with dogs this trip) and 30+ chickens, one of whom only has one foot, after an unlucky bout of frostbite, and is named Penelope. Many of their chickens are rescued from slaughterhouses and are rehabilitated back to the point where they have shiny feathers, happy, full lives, and chicken friendship cliques.
Nicole doesn’t want people to come to Better Farm to stay and hide away from the world in seclusion, she wants them to come, learn, and then bring that knowledge back to their own communities to share. The theory behind Better Farm is that “every experience – bad, good, or otherwise – presents each of us with an opportunity for exponential personal growth.”
After leaving Redwood, we spent a couple of hours in Cape Vincent with a sweet music producer we’d met by the bonfire at a group supper hosted by Better Farm. We recorded one of Jesse’s beautiful songs in the living room of the very grand house his grandfather had bought for the family many years ago to be their own version of the Kennedy Compound. After the recording session his sweet, SwEeT parents, brother in law, and baby niece watched us speed guzzle down salad before hitting the road again. They were so welcoming to us and so hospitable, it really hit home that there are so many lovely people and families and moments, these are some of the people we have to at least try to save the world for.