How the Readington Memorial Farm changed my life

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via Facebook

One of the places that drew me to property in Readington was the Readington Memorial Farm. A showplace of American farm life that served as an inspiration to one and all at-risk of addiction or substance abuse, it began as a full-time Community Engagement Program aimed at the young men of Readington as well as the village of Readington (in Rockaway County, N.J.).

An engaging story of his own, my friend Michael pointed me to the Memorial Farm on the west side of Readington, New Jersey.

Fast forward a couple of years:

Story continues below…

Stories about the Memorial Farm helped me to understand why Mike moved from Colorado to Madison, Wisconsin. Through access to the Memorial Farm, he was able to connect with his youth and with a cohort of young men where he believes most are still committed to upholding the value systems of American life and making an impact in life.

Mike started The Readington Memorial Farm Foundation in 2011 and continues to manage and manage his hometown high school, the Readington High School Warriors, to this day. He reports that his program is running now as the college-prep, college-readiness-focused high school. What he enjoys about this program is that its impact and success is, in part, based upon leadership in the business community and in other voluntary groups.

Mike, founder of The Readington Memorial Farm Foundation, thinks that he can influence other communities and create positive communities across the nation. He sees the Readington farm as an example of the positive elements of our rural communities. He tells us:

Think about it, an open-air classroom where farmers can talk about health, food production, environmental matters, and growing a strong society. Community input on the execution of the lessons is even more important.

The Readington Community in New Jersey is still under some testing periods from its big development planning in the 1990’s to where it stands today. But residents are known to want to preserve something of their life time memories and, in addition, have made sure that a large portion of Readington has no known residential development in the near future.

The small community leaders of Readington work hard to ensure that their school, their church, and their neighbors are cared for. Their commitment to preserving Readington is especially evident in the Readington Memorial Farm Foundation and the Readington High School Warriors. A relationship between the two programs allows them to sustain a successful program year after year.

Those leaders also know that if Readington goes down the path of the group homes that is leading many communities down a new path and industry and others out of the community, Readington will lose a way of life with which many area residents are comfortable. As Mike put it:

I believe strongly that a high quality place to live in Readington or in the surrounding communities will always be a positive experience and an asset to everyone who is involved in that. This is a positive, not a negative, process for returning homeowners and residents and newcomers.

Michael echoes this:

I believe that the Readington community will continue to learn from the foundation and the school. We will forever care for the farmers, students, volunteers, and everyone else who is involved with the foundation. We’ll be successful and learn from each other about the changes going on in the community.

Recreating or preserving a piece of our urban-rural community built on deeper and more respectful relationships across generations will not necessarily be difficult. What is necessary are complex conversations between neighbors and the leaders of the community.

Michael says:

A friend named Tom DiClerico who has been very active in the Readington farm talk said,

I believe that the world changed for all of us when Adolph Hitler got up and said I will build my Führerbunker of Hamburg, and we need to choose whether we want to be reborn as a new and better Germany with a new Germany or whether we want to roll our eyes at the new German. It will take a long time, and I don’t know when it will happen. But to some extent if the politics are on the Right side of the political spectrum – not the Left- if I hear my life history getting washed away by circumstances that are different from my own – that will give me the reassurance that I want to make sure my child survives as well.”

The Readington and its leaders: they are my kind of people, and I cannot wait to watch this little New Jersey community evolve and flourish.

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