Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Happy Achievement

Tomorrow morning I travel west from Boston home to upstate New York, where I will join three hundred or so family members and friends on Saturday in celebration of the 15oth anniversary of Brooksvale Farms, a family operation currently run by my grandfather, my two uncles, their wives (one of whom painted the beautiful new barn-sign at the top of this post), and my cousins. The land for the farm was purchased back in 1856 by my grandfather's great-grandfather William Brooks, and there have been Brooks children (and grandchildren) there ever since.

I grew up just down the road from the farm, and spent many wonderful days there throughout my childhood and beyond. Whether it was gathering maple sap in the spring and sitting up late on March nights watching it boiled down into syrup (fantastic on fresh snow, by the way), or chasing heifers from pasture to pasture, or picking potatoes in the fall, or just wandering the woods with my grandfather or cousins, there was always some fun to be had, or stories to be told, or work to be done.

It's a tough business these days, family farming. It's always been hard work (to put it mildly), but in today's world of competition from factory farms and the high costs of, well, just about everything, it's not easy to keep small farms afloat. It takes alot of blood, sweat, tears, and ingenuity, which is what makes me even prouder of the accomplishments of my family. They are the smartest, most caring, most wonderful people I have ever had the privilege to know, and I am so very glad I'll be able to spend some time with them this weekend enjoying some great food, great memories, and great company in one of the best places on earth.


At 7:23 AM, Blogger Rebecca Brooks-White said...

Hi Jeremy,
Thanks, that was a great article and a nice start to my day. Can't wait to see you!
Aunt Beck

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well put. Your writing paints a warm picture of real life. Sounds like you'll enjoy your time home no mater what the weather brings.
We'll be in Maine next week. Another place where good weather is welcome, but not necessary.
Garrick Hoadley

At 9:41 AM, Anonymous Carl Johnson said...


Enjoyed your comments, especially because I have fond childhood memories of the farm and your family. Indeed, it is "one of the best places on earth".

I'm sure you don't remember me, but we met at Guy & Anita's anniversary celebration in Wayland, around the time you were in college. My family used to have a cottage at Chenango Lake. We'd walk to visit the farm, and you mom's family would come visit at the cottage.

Anyway, I happen to be reading about another wonderful farm. Get a hold of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and read the description of "Polyface Farm" Section II (beginning page 123). It's eye-opening and inspiring.

By the way, where are you living and working these days?

I'm writing from Pittsburgh, where I work at the University.



At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said... usual, you have a way of putting "life" in your words. Both my husband and I have seen your family farm go through many changes and yet, still remain the same "family farm" through the years. We spent our childhood schooldays with many of your family members. Both of us watched you and your sister go through school as we attended to our daily jobs at the local school working along side your mother. We knew all along "Jeremy is going to go places"....I think a lot of your own ethics and values in life Jeremy, comes from your upbringing around the family farm and their way of life. Although you are away from the farm during these years, we know your memories are keeping you connected...there is no prouder way of making a living than the "family farm"!! Good luck to you and remember to honk the horn when ever you drive by our home headed to the "Brooksvale Farm".
Ken & Mary Lee

At 1:24 PM, Blogger lecentre said...

Good luck keeping it afloat!


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