by Joetta Maue

Better Farm in the past.

What I most love about this place is its history and tradition. In a way, my work is steeped in tradition and history; as are the images and text I work from. My pieces are a living memory of my own life. There is a gentleman here from the old-school beginning days of the farm as a hippie commune and it makes me realize how it is such a treasure to have a place that so many people have passed through and had meaningful life memories occur at and now it has a new generation that continues this tradition in a new way.

Better Farm in the 70's

It, in ways, reminds me of the barn we go to every 4th of July. It has been in the same couple's hands for something like 18 years and every year they have a party on the 4th and it is always a privilege to hear about how life, the place, the world has changed and always wonderful to see this group of people that have grown apart in life come back and connect and how now a new generation is breathing life into it again.

The 4th of July party at our friends Barn in Liberty, NY

I grew up going to my grandpa's camp on the Ohio River and now that I think about it it too filled this same purpose. He was a generation above the "hippies" so it had a very different vibe. But he had the place a very long time, as long as I could remember, and would have parties where "old timers" would come together and share their memories of a life that is past and then share the life they had in the present. Folks that have grown into different income brackets, moved to different States, had dramatically different lives. Coming back and connecting. The "camp" got sold when I was in my teens, as he could no longer maintain it and no one wanted to take it on, but it was such a treasure of my childhood. And I am jealous that my sister, who was older at the time, got a few treasures, lamps, tables, etc from it as a way to hold onto it. I was to young to think of doing that.

I feel like my generation will to have these stories and the traditions and I have always wanted to a be a person that helps to create them with annual get together's, parties, etc, but I have realized that in NYC I have gotten away from this - as space is short and life is hectic but I am now, being on this property that has so many stories and so much love, remembering how valuable that effort to create tradition in my own life and my son's life is.

Now if only I had a gorgeous piece of property to start doing it on. I guess I will have to improvise.

Read about the founder of Better Farm here. For more information about Better Farm's betterArts residency program, click here.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.