Recently I visited Bracketts Farm in the Green Springs National Landmark District. It’s located just north of Zion Crossroads, off of Route 15. They were having an “open farm” day, so we loaded up a couple of cars with some friends and off we went. And let me tell you, dear readers, we had an awesome visit!
Bracketts Farm is owned by the Elisabeth Aiken Nolting Foundation, established to maintain Bracketts in perpetuity. A small board of directors manages the foundation. We spent a couple of hours walking the property, examining the buildings, and learning about the history of the farm. The weather was perfect, which helps any outdoor experience be a better one. And good friends enhance everything! We saw the Tarentaise and Black Angus cattle being grass-fed on the property. Beautiful animals.
One of the objectives of the foundation is to preserve the property as a working small-scale farm and educate the public accordingly. If you think about it, what was once so common to see is a rapidly disappearing way of life. Below are two examples that immediately come to my mind.
1. My grandmother (born in Kansas in 1912) grew up on a farm and often talked to me about what hard work it was. She was glad to leave the farm once she became an adult. That farm sold long ago and is now part of a large-scale farming operation. One cool thing is that the corn silo was converted into a residence. Four stories, one room per story. The bottom floor is the kitchen/dining room, second floor is the living room, and top two floors are bedrooms. No elevator, for anyone wondering. Just lots of stairs and one very fit family!
2. I lived in rural southern Illinois the first 18 years of my life. Although my family lived in town, we had plenty of friends who owned small farms, and I grew up familiar with farming, country life, and farm animals. Several of my childhood friends helped with farm chores and had plenty of interesting tales to tell. Sometimes they would ditch school to help out with the harvest, or be a few hours late to class because “the cows got out.” I was a little envious of them, getting out of class so often. Town kids didn’t have those excuses! Anyway, keeping in touch with my hometown on Facebook lets me know that none of these farms from my childhood exist anymore. That small town is now a bedroom community near St. Louis, and the farms are now housing developments or shopping centers.
Consequently, I think it’s wonderful to have Bracketts Farm preserved. Thank goodness for people like Ms. Nolting, with both the forethought and means to do so. And kudos to the board members for continuing with her vision. The ultimate goal of the Bracketts Farm Foundation is to eventually open the property to the public on a regular basis. They aren’t quite there yet, but hope to acquire volunteers to assist with the process. Interested parties may contact the board via www.Bracketts.org.
Laura Schupp resides in Zion Crossroads with her husband Rick and two cats. She would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.