Community Spirit in Barnard
Until recently, and following Tropical Storm Irene recovery efforts, the community of Barnard had been focused on its No. 1 priority — reopening its beloved Barnard General Store, the only retail business in town.
The BGS closed last May after operating for 180 consecutive years.
Gone for now is the popular gathering place which attracted locals and others who came to visit, to discuss local issues, pass the time of day, recreate at Silver Lake across the street and, often stock up on food supplies on the way home. The heart of the community suddenly stopped breathing five months ago.
That singular focus of interest and conversation began to shift a few weeks ago however, when attention began to emphasize the Fable Farm CSA, a scant few yards down Route 12 from the store.
Discussion intensified over the summer and at times became downright ugly. Angry outbursts at public meetings were observed. Fable Farm principals and workers were accused of a variety of objectionable and illegal behavior. Local and state agency investigations into allegations took place, and for some, it added to a climate of suspicion and disapproval of the Fable Farm people.
During all of it, Fable Farm kept its cool, staying out of the fray as best they could, awaiting the findings of various departments of government.
Throughout it all they freely cooperated with anyone who sought clarification of their intentions, plans, facilities and activities. As they awaited the outcome, they continued to work their farmland, producing a variety of healthy foods to sell to CSA members, as well as continuing to donate the fruits of their labor to several needy families nearby.
And then, last Wednesday night in a jam-packed Barnard Town Hall at a meeting called by the local select board, findings were read, Fable Farm made a presentation and the public was invited to voice their concerns.
We commend and celebrate the dramatic change in the mood and attitude of Barnard citizens regarding Fable Farm. With facts now in hand (including changes required) and the Fable Farm position detailed publically at long last, citizens were urged to comment. Not a single person voiced an objection to the intentions or activities of the CSA group. Some even went so far as to express regret for what they or others had thought or said days earlier. Every person’s remarks were met with loud applause indicating agreement.
One of the many comments made which summed up the evening best for us went like this: “Tonight it took just a bit over a half hour for residents of Barnard to put to rest that which for several weeks had been tearing us apart. For me, that’s what community is all about.”
We agree wholeheartedly.
Phil Camp, Publisher