Eleven years ago, a few friends of mine joined me in a conversation about how we thought the world was progressing down a non-sustainable path. I recall lamenting that many of the traditional values that were the hallmark of America’s past were disappearing. At the same time, I learned that part of Hillside Farms had been sold, thus continuing the insidious loss of a very special, historic property. The cattle had been sold years earlier and the once glorious 412- acre farm was mapped for development.
We saw an opportunity. Our desire was to harness local enthusiasm and obtain a mortgage to purchase this place for our community. The dream was to return this land to what it once was in order to benefit the community in numerous ways. We wanted to use a revitalized farm to lure visitors so that they could be exposed to traditional values and life choices that were the foundation of why this nation was formed and survived for 240 years.
Our nation was formed by people who sacrificed to create a nation unlike anything before or since. Our founders were brave, caring, faithful people who saw the opportunity to collectively advance civilization. Since then our country, though not perfect, has surpassed our founders’ expectations in many ways. Indeed, they doubted our ability to survive long term as a republic because freedom brings with it much temptation and responsibility. Republics historically fail.
The Lands at Hillside Farms was created to remind us all of the qualities in our ancestors which defied our founders’ expectations by allowing our country to not only survive but thrive. We think many virtues that allowed us to succeed are dwindling. Among these indispensable virtues are individual responsibility, personal sacrifice, self reliance, hard work, service to others, patriotism, community loyalty, balance within and respect for one’s environment, and faith in God. This non-profit was created and the land was purchased as a gift to our region. But we will have failed our mission if we do not “touch” enough of our citizenry by reminding them of life choices we might all make that can lead to a situation where people 240 years from now inherit all of the options and resources we enjoy today. This is why we are here.
In the past 11 years we have brought back the farm animals that were sold but had originally been here since pioneers first settled this valley in the late 1700’s. They are raised humanely and produce common products like milk, butter, ice cream, and meats. But we make them better. Better, because the animals here live humanely and are fed comparably to the way nature intended. The historic buildings are continually being restored and the landscape has been returned to its original agrarian productivity. And we have established new businesses here while expanding upon the productivity of the dairy store. We are a non-profit organization which engages capitalism to survive. We provide products grown or produced here, locally or via fair trade.
Our organization is old fashioned in that we intend to survive by providing an awesome experience while teaching the values of “loving thy neighbor”. We know of no more valuable lesson to share. We have harnessed tremendously dedicated staff and volunteers who define the concept of “servant leadership”. And we work ridiculously hard to pay the many expenses of running a facility of this size while relentlessly working to reflect values that society cannot survive without.
So, every time you buy our healthy foods you are nourishing your body. When you walk this beautiful land you are nourishing your soul. And we hope and pray that we all nourish our spirits by appreciating each of our blessings. Thank you for your continued support. And please consider supporting us financially so that we can expand our impact on humanity.
Doug Ayers, V.M.D.
The Lands at Hillside Farms is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) educational farm. EIN 202975553