After more than 2 years of debilitating chronic illness brought on by Lyme Disease and then an increasingly intense inflammatory response, Caitlin discovered that her body was reacting to toxic levels of mold in our 199 year old home. On July 20, 2021 Caitlin left our house with only a tote bag of belongings, and has not stepped foot in it since. She is feeling so much better, but has years of recovery ahead of her. Along with losing our home, we have also had to give up nearly all of our household possessions—all of our children’s toys, stuffies, most of our clothes, all our furniture, our instruments, our books—it all had to go. We have been living with family and friends who have stepped up with unimaginable generosity to help us maintain some level of normalcy and we are in a safe, small cottage near the farm for now.
After months of discussion with mold experts, doctors and family and friends, we concluded that our house is likely to never be a safe place for Caitlin again. We are determined to continue farming and raising our kids on this land and so we have decided to build a new, safe house for our family on the farm while we also work to remediate our old home to be safe for its next inhabitants. We plan to build our new house ourselves with the help of Jesse’s carpenter dad, Joe, and do things as inexpensively (and sustainably) as possible. But together, these projects are likely to cost considerably more than $250,000.
There are so many needs and injustices in the world and ours pale in comparison to many of them. We want to acknowledge the fact that many people are housing insecure in ways much more dangerous than us, with far fewer resources. We are so rich; we have incredible land, a beautiful thriving business, and so many community supports. But we make very little money and the scope of what this entails is far beyond our own financial abilities at the moment. We are extraordinarily uncomfortable in the role of asking for help, in large part because we recognize so many ways in which we are wealthy. This experience is teaching us about both what loss and grief can feel like but also how incredibly lucky we are to have the privileges we do; proximity to wealth, the trust and good will of our neighbors, access to land, and so much more. We should all be so lucky, and yet we still need help. We also believe firmly in the need to accept our vulnerability and celebrate the ways we are able to support our community by growing food, stewarding this land, and nurturing an institution much bigger than ourselves. We can only do those things when we are healthy and have a safe place to live. Our hope is that you value the longevity of this farm and our family enough to support us to make this happen.
As we navigate this transition we are striving to keep our values at the forefront of our decisions. One silver lining of this ordeal has been an opportunity to step back and look at our life and values from a different vantage point. In that process we have firmly re-committed ourselves to the life of farming and stewarding this land. We want to build a house that will last another 200 years with a low environmental impact and ensure the existing farmhouse is cared for and safe for others long into the future. We want the farm’s long-term needs to drive the land use decisions we make, and to maintain the magic that we all love about this place. And we hope that our current struggles and our decision to reach out to you for support will help strengthen the community ties that we feel in durable ways. Most importantly, we hope that Caitlin, and by extension her family, will have the opportunity to be healthy again.
You should know that we already feel so supported and loved through this ordeal. Your financial support or lack thereof won’t change that, and there are so many other ways to offer support. We will offer ways to be involved or help in non-monetary ways as they arrive. But as is so often the case, money is the first limiting factor in allowing us to make this come true and so we ask. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
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