Beverly Martin dreams of a healing place.
Martin, a mental-health nurse practitioner, recently moved to a farm in McPherson County she has dubbed The Grove.
This former farm girl’s dream is to turn this decaying 5-acre farmstead into a place where people of all ages and abilities could heal their souls.
Martin spoke Monday at The Well about this dream during the McPherson Museum’s “What Dreams May Come” lecture series.
Martin said her idea for a healing farm grew in part from her own experiences growing up on a farm in Wisconsin. She said she values her job as a nurse practitioner, but she said she feels frustrated she only has 15 minutes with her patients in order to prescribe them medicine.
People are so much more than that, she said.
“Growing up on a farm, I know the potential that has,” she said. “I see so many people and so many children who are disconnected from where they came from — the Earth.”
Martin admitted she has hit some bumps in the ongoing journey toward her dream. She recounted these bumps and her goals in a Top 10 list of principles she embraces on the farm.
Principle No. 10: “We whistle while we work.”
She said she sees the healing power of work and even physical labor that can be offered on a farm.
Unfortunately, she said our society has an all-or-nothing policy toward work. Either people with mental and physical health limitations are on disability or they are not.
Principle No. 9: “We believe everyone and everything has a purpose.”
Martin said she has delighted in finding many treasures on her farm that have been cast off by other people like little pieces of rusty iron or crock.
“I see beauties in things that other people think are junk,” she said, “and I also feel that way about people. I feel we all have a purpose. I think some people are considered junk. I find that all of us have purpose and creating that kind of community would hopefully capture some people’s sense of purpose.”
Principle No. 8 “We are more than blood and guts.”
Martin said she values the spiritual nature of people. She is a Christian and she said she sees her dream as a way of following Jesus’ way.
“The people who I see do the best in any type of recovery from depression and are released have some form of faith and have hope and are not just restricted to who they are just sitting in that chair,” she said.
Page 2 of 3 - Principle No. 7 “We are rock stars.”
She said she sees the healing power in art and would like to see people be able to express themselves through art on her farm. That might be painting a tree or playing an instrument or writing.
“Everyone is an artist. We are all musicians. We don’t have to go to an art gallery,” she said. “Yes, we appreciate that, but we can start right here and write on paper ... It is embracing the artist in all the forms of healing.”
Principle No. 6 “We are quirky.”
“Quirky is good,” she said, “and quirky is better at times. I think you can find your inner quirkiness.”
Martin said people in our society don’t get to express those quirky things that make them unique very often unless they are on television or a comedian. She said she wanted her farm to be a place where people can express their uniqueness.
Principle No. 5 “We heal by seeing, hearing and tasting and by being around animals.”
Martin has adopted three male alpacas and plans to adopt two more. She had hoped they could be used as therapy animals but has found they are a bit more temperamental around humans than she had anticipated. Still the Alpacas produce fertilizer for plants and wool.
“I want to integrate all different types of animals,” she said. “Everything has a purpose.”
Principle No. 4. “We like to mix it up a bit.”
She also aspires to integrate all types of people on her farm — the young, the old, the abled and not so abled.
Martin related a story about a time she spent working with refuges from Thailand and Laos. Families with relations of all ages lived and worked together in this agrarian society. Some of the young people from Laos were relocating to the United States and Australia, but the older residents didn’t want to leave. They had heard Americans put their elderly in prisons. Martin said that is what these people perceived our nursing homes to be.
Principle No. 3 “We like downy woodpeckers, rocks and the Milky Way.”
Martin said she endeavors to help connect people with nature.
Principle No. 2 “We are practicing and practicing the art of letting go.”
“That can come in many forms. It can be folks who are dying. It can be people who are abusing alcohol or meth. It is letting go of whatever imprisons you,” she said.
Page 3 of 3 - Martin said she had to let go of parts of her dream. She had a small therapy dog that was eaten by a coyote after she moved to the farm, which upset her very much. She had to accept the reality in which she was living and new realities about herself, she said.
Principle No. 1 “We love to laugh.”
Laughter has been scientifically proven to increase certain chemicals in our brain that create positive moods. People have formed clubs to get together for laugh therapy. Research indicates you can receive the positive benefits of laughter, even if you don’t think anything is funny and you are simply laughing for the sake of laughing, Martin said.
Martin said she has not made as much progress toward her dream as she had hoped, but she sees her work on the farm as a journey.
“I live my life through auspicious moments,” she said. “I go with the flow. Sometimes things go well, and I am excited, and some things are pretty embarrassing.”
She said she may never see her dream come to full fruition, but it is worth the journey.
“It might not be a healing farm community,” she said. “It may be a healing farm for Beverly.”