By: Lora Browne
The impact has been life long — the lifestyle, all that I learned at Koinonia Farm. Rather than a reflection on all that, I will offer “From each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her need” continues to guide me. Knowing Jesus was a radical has also been a guiding awareness and sometimes made it hard to reconcile what “Christianity” was in the rest of the world.
Memories from 1949-1963: Alma Jackson and Henry Pope working in the old tractor shed and laughing with Norman Long. Norman building feeders for the pigs and calves and letting me play in the skeleton of them.
There were those mornings standing in line to catch the bus to Thalean School, walking home in the afternoon rather than riding the bus back. I remember summers and all of us in a long line moving irrigation pipes at 5:00 a.m. Before sunrise I got to milk cows with Con Browne, and feed the kittens in the barn. I picked grapes, squash, peaches watermelon and hoed cotton and peanuts in the sun. I worked in the bottom garden and husked corn, and snapped beans under the oak tree by the big kitchen then canned those foods in the summertime.
I rang the bell for meals and meetings. I loved those Saturday night picnics on Picnic Hill in the summertime. Worship service was daily at 5:30 PM. Afterwards, we would take supper home from the main dining room, except Saturday nights when we all ate together (as we always did at noon).
Throwing hay bales onto the koby wagon, then offloading those bales into the hay barn. Gathering eggs, then cleaning, grading and packing them for market. I got my egg grading license at 10 years old, and was so proud of it. I sorted pecans, and packaged them was and I was part of making those first batches of “pecandy.” Yum!
Riding Danny the horse is a happy memory as is summer camp learning about Indians and passing the tests to become a member of the tribe. We put up a thirty-foot teepee. I remember playing volleyball and being shot at bullets flying overhead in the house we lived in (now Wittkamper house). We knew we didn’t talk about it at school. Then the court case where we were told that we were “contaminating the other children because of (our) religious beliefs” and couldn’t attend Americus High School. An ACLU lawyer defended us. We started school nine weeks late having no help to catch up.
Court case with ACLU lawyer about “contaminating the other children because of (our) religious beliefs”. Into Americus High School 9 weeks late, and having to catch up without help. Knowing that Koinonia was a place of much love and support always. And that people within Koinonia acted from their understanding of the New Testament and spoke out for justice and Jesus dedicated to peaceful means of interaction.
I clearly remember the fellowship, the welcoming of people who passed through, whether they were civil rights activists, church people from all over the world, or religious groups (“Children of Light”); Dorothy Day, Bill Kunsler, Charles Sherrod, the Freedom Singers, and many, many more. I remember the day Clarence and Con took Jan and me to the Black Church in Albany because Martin Luther King was speaking there. What a shocking and glorious experience!!
Bible study was at 5:30 a.m. with Clarence and the college students who came during the summer. I remember the arrival of the Wittkampers, the Atkinsons, Nelsons, Johnsons, Eustaces, Campbells, Veldheusens, Mandels, Baers, Dorrells and the beautiful Butler wedding in Wedding Valley.
Fifty-gallon drums of white clover honey came from Forest River, wooden toys and blocks from Rifton Playthings and folks from Evanston folk came to help. And I remember how heart broken I was to leave with my parents in 1963.
KOINONIA FARM. I am very fortunate to have grown up there. It gave me love, and taught me tolerance and justice, as well as set an example for people all over the world. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.