The Abode was created to materialize the message of Love, Harmony and Beauty brought to the West by Hazrat Inayat Khan, a Sufi master.
Located in the Taconic Mountains in New Lebanon, The Abode of the Message is an Eco-Sufi village housed in restored historic Shaker buildings. The Abode’s staff of more than forty adults lives in the community with their families throughout the year. The Abode offers a sanctuary for retreats that caters to the needs of individuals and groups, in either a guided or non-guided setting that is conducive to meditation, reflection, and contemplation. For non-guided or self-directed retreats, the Abode offers rooms, huts, and cabins that are ideal for hosting individuals, groups, and organizations.
Much of the food prepared for the common meals of the Abode community is grown by The Abode Farm CSA. In 2012, with limited help, farmers Evan Thayer-Null and Sarah Steadman began growing vegetables for a 35-member CSA on one and half acres with one plough horse. Today, the farm grows vegetables on seven acres, feeding over 115 CSA members with help from two Belgium draft horses, a small tractor, and the hard work of a dedicated farm crew.
CSA members come from New Lebanon and nearby towns in New York, Massachusetts, and the Berkshires; as well as The Abode of the Message, The Flying Deer Nature Center, and the dining services at The Darrow School. The farm now supplies produce to Rumi’s Café and coffee house, The Abode of the Message’s latest venture which features homemade, local and organic food, snacks and beverages. Throughout the growing season, the farm also hosts events, tours, performances, and potluck meals.
As part of the landscape of Mount Lebanon, the farm is surrounded by wetlands, ponds, streams, woodlands, and meadows. The farmers at the Abode strive to honor this ecology, by creating a diverse farm system that enriches the soil, protects wildlife, and produces healthy crops. Every year about half of the farm is tilled and planted with vegetable crops, while the other half is planted with cover crops, which help to create organic matter, nourish soil biology, and provide nutrients to the soil and plants. The farm makes its own compost, rotates crop plantings, and uses organic soil amendments, foliar sprays, and biodynamic growing methods. The farmers at the Abode are committed to growing heirloom vegetable varieties and have been involved in preserving seeds from crops grown by neighboring Native American tribes like the Hopi. Last year the farm grew tobacco for use in ritual ceremonies.
The Abode Farm CSA has long fostered educational opportunities for young farmers and those who are interested in food justice and localized food systems. The Abode’s latest educational partnership centers on Roots Rising, a youth and agriculture development program that supports the local community by providing educational and work opportunities. Through the program, teens are paid to work on farms, in community gardens, and in local food pantries. The teens learn valuable farming, cooking and business skills, and have plans to start a food truck that utilizes local produce from farms like the Abode Farm CSA.
At Roots Rising, Pittsfield teens from all walks of life work side by side towards a common goal. They learn the value of working hard, the importance of communication and perseverance, and the satisfaction of living closely with the land in service of something that matters.