The Herstory of Round the Bend Farm
Trip to Costa Rica in 2011 to study the Rancho Mastatal model from left to right: Leslie Barclay, Margie Baldwin, Michael Baldwin, Desa VanLaarhoven, Ian Baldwin, Geoff Kinder (in back), Margo Baldwin and Rutgers Barclay.
There are always many hands and hearts involved in anything meaningful; Round the Bend Farm (RTB) is no exception. Michael and Margie Baldwin, founders of the Marion Institute, and Leslie and Rutgers Barclay were catalysts in the inception and development of RTB and play a significant role in its history. In 2007, they joined forces, found the farm, named it RTB, and invested in the land and young farmers so they could experience firsthand farming on the land. They hired two farmers, Antone (a.k.a. T) Vieira and Ellen Densmore, to break ground on the property. For 5 years, 2007- 2012, T and Ellen helped to build the farm before leaving to pursue their farming dreams in Maine. Geoff Kinder was also hired in 2007 and began vegetable farming and caretaking the farm. Leslie Barclay was deeply involved in the planning and implementation of the farm’s early development. Collectively, Leslie and Rucky’s financial and emotional support gave farmers the freedom to explore and develop positive relationships with the land and with farming as a craft. In 2008, Leslie and Rucky gained their independence in owning RTB while still being morally supported by Michael and Margie – who hoped RTB could become a sustainable learning and teaching farm.
Desa, in her role as Executive Director of the Marion Institute, and Geoff began to tell people of their collective dream of creating a working and living model of restorative living somewhere in the northeast. Michael and Margie, as incredible visionaries themselves, traveled to Rancho Mastatal in Costa Rica, to experience Desa and Geoff’s inspiration for creating a center for restorative living. The Baldwins began to encourage Desa and Geoff to manifest their vision at RTB. Together, the two couples began to dream up the greater vision of RTB and began planning and building for the future in hopes that someone would understand and deeply support their vision. In 2009, Geoff and Desa began living at RTB to continue their work rooted in the healthy soil of the farm. Also during that time, Shaun Van Laarhoven came on the scene as the first RTB volunteer at RTB. Shaun represents all that is wonderful and inspiring about RTB. Over the course of six years, Shaun made a career transition from a stressed-out healthcare worker in Boston to a farm volunteer and ultimately to his current position as RTB’s Executive Chef and Assistant Farm Manager.
In 2011, Glenn Oliviera, current RTB Board Member, moved on to the farm and began volunteering his time to the work and vision of RTB. During that year, and a few months the following year, the vision of RTB was honed with assistance from Scott Gallant and Laura Killingbeck.
In May 2013, those incredible people that we had been looking for appeared, Ellen and Duncan McFarland through their Bromley Charitable Trust, bought the land, 39+ acres, to manifest the greater vision for RTB led by Desa and Geoff and supported by an incredible team of folks. With the farm purchased, the dreams and investment of staying on the property that had been built out for 6 years prior had paid off- a Center for Restorative Community was born. In one fell swoop, the farm went from a place owned by one couple to a place that is owned and farmed by a non-profit in perpetuity. We could never have done this work without the many, many folks who contributed their love, time, energy and ideas to our work. Most especially our funders, Ellen and Duncan, who were able to manifest our vision and make it a living reality. Our hearts will always be full when we speak of Ellen and Duncan.
After the land was secured, we brought on our all-star Education Manager, Liz Wiley, in August 2013. Liz has worn many different hats to help further establish our work.
On January 1st, 2015 Desa Van Laarhoven left her post as Executive Director of the Marion Institute and became the Executive Director of Round the Bend Farm, as Michael Baldwin said, “to follow her bliss.” Together with her partner, Geoff Kinder – RTB Farm Manager they co-lead the ongoing efforts and development of RTB.
On July 7, 2015, RTB received its non-profit status and on October 1st, 2015 we took the leap and left the comfy nest of our fiscal sponsor, the Marion Institute. Herstory continues to unfold….