A short tale entitled, “A Tale of Two Cultures” is in order.

Once upon a time, a wise and prudent management team in New Vrindaban listened to the advice of a local farmer. He reminded them that self-sufficiency is a critical component to New Vrindaban’s mission and should not be pushed out-of-site to a remote ridge top pasture. The wise managers invested time and resources into an agrarian pilot project, dubbed the Small Farm Training Center. And all was well.

The farmer further explained that for the project to tangibly demonstrate the link between spirituality and rural Krishna conscious living — it had to be executed in plain view of visiting pilgrims, tourists. and resident devotees. The managers agreed and gave the farmer the facility and independence he needed to pursue that vision. And all was well.

Indian guests touring the “Teaching Garden” at New Vrindaban, 2002

Agriculture — or, more accurately, the fusion of agriculture and education — was redefined. Farming was no longer isolated and marginalized. It stood out front and center, visible, vocal and empowered to amplify it’s ‘plain living, high thinking’ message inside and outside the boundaries of New Vrindaban.

Networking incessantly with local food activists in Wheeling, the farmer won the hearts and minds of elementary school teachers, civic leaders, college professors, chefs, private foundations, neighborhood moms, clergy, businessmen, soup kitchen cooks and the local news media. Grant money flowed, farm apprentices arrived, organic gardens popped up on public school playgrounds and fresh vegetables flowed from New Vrindaban’s fields to Wheeling’s needy. And all was well.

Due to the combined efforts of the farmer, the wise managers and inspired Wheeling residents, a local food movement was launched. New Vrindaban’s agrarian outreach wing, the Small Farm Training Center, played a critical role, and then…

Well, the management changed, gas fracking money flowed and the marriage between land based culture and a tourist driven culture ended in a contentious divorce. All was not well.

There is, however, a happy ending. The farmer took his tools and outreach experience to New Talavan Community in Southern Mississippi. He transplanted his vision to fresh ground and found that the same formula works anywhere in North America.

November 2014: Shortly after relocating the Small Farm Training Center from West Virginia, the first wave of student apprentices arrive at New Talavana, Mississippi

The moral of the story? In all endeavors, the key ingredient to success is pleasing the spiritual master. Moral lesson number two? It is rare to find anyone who can farm. It’s more rare to find individuals who can farm and preach. Farmers are, by nature, independently spirited. Fan the flame of independence and varnashrama culture will take root.

Signed ………….. The Farmer

Witness ………… The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna