It has been a difficult year at Olsen Farm.
In January we lost our father unexpectedly after a short illness. Since then our world has been turned upside down. Trying to manage the sudden death of a loved one is an impossible task. On top of that tremendous loss we are faced with large debts against the land and are at risk of losing our farm and family home. With such urgency focussed on these critical financial pieces there has not been time to properly grieve.
From Chris and Kristen’s wedding party last August: Kristen, Chris, Tommy- our father, Aimee and Todd- our sister and brother in law
One piece that has kept us moving forward during this struggle is the kindness of strangers.
Please- don’t get me wrong- we have an incredibly supportive group of family and friends who have been wrapping us in kindness every step of the way. We are thankful to have this base of support, and know that we could not continue fighting for our farm without friends and family there beside us.
A group of friends and family came to help dig and prepare beds for planting this Spring- we couldn’t have don it without you guys!
But the kindness and generosity of complete strangers is something powerful and provides great hope.
In April we started a ‘GoFundMe’ campaign to try and offset the large amount of money we need in order to save the farm (https://www.gofundme.com/please-help-save-olsen-farm?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_content=body_photo&utm_campaign=upd_n)
It has not been easy to share our story, and it certainly has not been easy to ask for help- particularly because it involves money. But we had to put it out there. Since we made that leap we have made so many amazing connections by sharing what we are going through. By taking the risk and putting our vulnerability out there we have been able to connect with people all over the country who are going through, or have been through similar circumstances. We have met people who grew up eating eggs from Olsen Farm years ago, and heard amazing stories about what the farm was like then. We have heard memories about our father from his childhood- these pieces have more value than can be put in words.
-Two sisters shared memories of visiting Olsen Farm as children, riding the tractor and feeding the animals with Great Grandpa Olsen.
-A former Berkshire County resident who recently returned to the area found us on Facebook and reached out via email- making a generous donation and becoming one of our best egg customers and Olsen Farm cheerleaders!
-Tradespeople, including a plumber, two electricians and many skilled carpenters have reached out with offers to help repair the farmhouse pro bono after hearing our story.
-An old friend of our father’s shared that there was a tree he and our dad had carved their names in years ago and we were able to hike to that exact spot and find ‘Tommy Wheeler’ carved there in memoriam.
-A young woman beginning to study archeology and her father introduced themselves and generously offered to survey the property, searching for burried history- and treasures.
-Someone made the purchase of a silver spoon from our first yard sale and came to return it after doing some research that night and finding it was a valuable family heirloom. She polished the spoon, wrapped it up and brought it back to us sharing that she thought we should keep it on the farm.
-A gentleman told us his parallel story that he is currently working through similar circumstances while trying to revive his family store after the death of grand parents.
-A couple from Florida, vacationing in the Berkshires, came to the farm this weekend after seeing us in the newspaper and made a generous donation.
Please take a look at the Berkshire Eagle article here: http://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/lanesborough-couple-on-mission-to-save-family-farm,515057
These moments and stories are what give us strength to push forward with our seemingly impossible task. Once these strangers made the effort to step in to our lives they became part of the Olsen Farm family.
Please, be kind to a stranger. The impact is powerful and lasting. And please, keep reaching out and sharing your stories with us. Your stories give us hope.