All the major power tools at Fresh and Local CSA were stolen in the past two weeks, a devastating blow to production and livelihood.
My friends, biodynamic farmers Allan and Maura Balliett, have operated this Community Supported farm (CSA) for more than 15 years in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Because of these thefts and insurance company hair-splitting over the supposed difference between “tools” and “equipment”, they may be unable to continue their farming work. They need help.
Two weeks ago the farm had the following equipment stolen: a Stihl Gas Powered Backpack Blower/Sprayer, and a Shindawa C350 brushcutter.
Then last week the thieves came back and stole both of the farm’s tillers. That theft included the rotary plowed BCS walking tractor that was the farm workhorse for incorporating organic matter and efficiently creating raised beds.
All of this is professional equipment is essential for the Ballietts to produce food for their Fresh and Local CSA.
Since they began farming, Allan and Maura have always been subsistence farmers who operated on a “shoestring.” The equipment which was stolen was purchased gradually. Each summer, they purchased one “big” item or piece of equipment. Now it’s all gone.
Without some support, it is unlikely that they will be able to replace any of this equipment that is so important to their livelihood and to the many families that are CSA members. They’ve lost all the professional equipment needed to run their farm.
Just a little background on Allan. He is a highly principled, devoted biodynamic farmer. A pioneer, for years he has been a powerful champion for the organic, biodynamic, sustainable agricultural movement. He has provided a tremendous amount of community outreach, and has organized and produced some of the seminal conferences on sustainable and biodynamic agriculture in the mid-Atlantic region.
Allan started the Biodynamics Now! discussion group online more than 10 years ago and continues to moderate it. This requires hours of his time each week. He also produces a podcast where he interviews major figures in the nutrient dense food movement.
Each year Allan has both interns and WOOFers who come to his farm and he imparts to them all of the knowledge he has accumulated over the years. He does all these things without being compensated financially and because he cares very much about producing highly nutritious, clean food while also building the soil and stewarding the earth.
When I spoke with Allan on the phone this past week, he seemed broken. “I’m ruined.,” he lamented. “I’m so broke that I may literally become homeless in a few months.”
To help out, I’ve started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Please consider following the link and providing help to restore the essential farm equipment so Allan and Maura can and get back to work growing food.