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News from Bellwether Farm

As we approach the end of another novel Bellwether summer, please find a brief update about the farm, its programming, and staff. Know that we continue to provide those things essential to the farm’s vocation as place of learning, restoration, reconciliation, and spiritual growth.

Summer programming:

Adjusting to the ever-changing COVID directives from the CDC and Ohio Department of Health has not interfered with the wide range of programming provided this summer. While we were unable to host traditional summer camp, there have been two intergenerational family camps, two yoga retreats, U-pick and volunteer days, a Celtic spirituality retreat, Youth Mission trip alternatives, Diocesan youth events, a Ukulele Day, a Fishing Derby and fish-fry, mushroom hunting days and a “Marvelous Morels” dinner extravaganza, the Bishop’s Bike Ride, creation-based Stations of the Cross and self-guided nature hikes, clergy retreats, parish picnics and overnights, and diocesan meetings. In addition to providing fresh produce and protein for the farm-to-table meals always served at Bellwether, the farm has continued its Feeding the Beloved Community program, providing weekly vegetables to a handful of parish hot meal feeding programs.

We have also hosted Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, family reunions, denominational leadership gatherings, Reading Camp day sessions, and other seminars and workshops led by outside groups and businesses. Emerging from a continuing pandemic has provided a range of challenges, all of which have led us to new ways of providing the gifts of this facility in safe and creative ways. Keep an eye on the Bellwether website and the What’s New in the Diocese of Ohio e-bulletin for upcoming offerings.

Staff goings and comings:

Summer Agricultural Interns Gunnar Holmberg and Joshua Bowen, Culinary Intern Jasper Eston, and Archives Interns Madelyn Smith and Iris Filippi have completed their internships on the Diocesan Staff and their generous contributions to Bellwether. In addition to working with the Rev. Dr. Brian Wilbert in the Archives, Madelyn and Iris spent time every week under the direction of Lynette Williams setting up and cataloguing the Bellwether Library. Jasper learned the ins and outs of a commercial kitchen and farm-to-table cuisine at the side of Chef Lonny Gatlin, and Gunnar and Joshua developed their growing skills under the tutelage of Farmer Kyle Mitchell. Their combined contributions to the spirit and work of the farm this summer have been a blessing.

Gordon Taylor (St. Peter’s, Lakewood) came to Bellwether as a Hospitality Intern in February of 2019. While most of his responsibilities over the past two and a half years have focused on hosting visitors, there is almost no area of life on the farm to which he has not contributed. He has helped lead summer camp; organized volunteers; tended the livestock; worked in the hoop houses and fields; likely cleaned more eggs than anyone else; designed, planted, and maintained the herb garden in front of the Grange; assisted in the farm-to-table dining experience, both in the kitchen and the “front of the house;” and greeted countless visitors, helping them get settled into whatever their visit offered. His goal in coming to Bellwether was to explore a vocation in hospitality, and it has led to a position as Special Event Coordinator at Signature of Solon Country Club, in Solon, Ohio. We will miss his warm and enthusiastic welcome, and give thanks for all he has brought to the life and ministry of the farm.

Bishop Whayne Hougland, formerly Bishop Diocesan of Western Michigan and Bishop Provisional of Eastern Michigan, has begun serving as Transitional Director of Bellwether Farm. Last winter, he lived at Bellwether for six weeks, serving as a volunteer intern during a period of personal discernment. With the encouragement of the Standing Committee, the Presiding Bishop, and his Office of Pastoral Development, we are delighted to have Bishop Hougland and his wife, Dana, at Bellwether during this open-ended period of transition for both the farm and them. As a parish priest, Whayne served as board chair of a diocesan camp and retreat center during a time of intentional rebuilding and comes to us with considerable and useful experience. While his responsibilities will focus on Bellwether and its leadership and staffing needs, rather than on “episcopal” duties, once he gets settled, he may be available for occasional supply, guest preaching, and connecting parishes more fully with the resources of the farm.

As the spread of the Delta and other COVID variants is requiring of us renewed caution, we continue to welcome you to the farm and invite your ideas and participation in building a vibrant program for this fall, 2022, and beyond.

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