The Sisters of the Redeemer held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new 6,500-square-foot barn at Redeemer Valley Farm on April 12, 2022. The barn will be located on 115 acres of land in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., which currently houses the Farm’s community garden as well as the Sisters’ Chapel and former Provincialate.
The barn represents the Sisters’ longstanding commitment to sustainable agriculture and caring for God’s creation. For many decades starting in the late 1930s, the Sisters grew a variety of crops and raised livestock which fed the Sisters and others in their care.
In 2010, the Sisters returned to their agricultural roots with the development of Redeemer Valley Community Garden under the leadership of Sr. Ana Dura, CSR. The garden offers individual plots and a substantial volunteer-supported plot that provide healthy, locally-grown a produce to the surrounding community and local food cupboards. In 2021, more than 3,500 pounds of the garden’s produce were donated.
The new barn will bring together many aspects of the Farm under one roof to streamline operations while increasing access and participation in the many community-driven activities. In addition to housing the Farm’s growing number of animals, there will be a micro dairy, a produce packing room, a soap making and wool workshop, and a gathering space for small events. The barn will be constructed using eco-friendly materials and allow for maximum rainwater collection and reuse. The roof will be built for eventual solar panels.
“During the past two years of the pandemic, we have witnessed the healing potential nature offers,” said Sr. Ana. “Isolated and socially distanced from their normal lives and activities, people found a place of peace, beauty, and safety in the Farm’s open space and fields. Children and adults could laugh and smile as they visited the animals. Parents and grandparents brought children to the garden to interact with and appreciate nature. These experiences reaffirm the Sisters’ commitment and the vision of the Farm to connect people with nature as a way of deepening relationships with God and one another.”
At the groundbreaking ceremony, the Sisters announced the barn will be named the Weirman Family Barn, in recognition of a generous philanthropic gift made by Bob and Eleanor Weirman. Bob and Eleanor were in attendance at the ceremony with their family and friends.
When Bob and Eleanor heard the Sisters were planning to build a barn to expand their garden ministry, they offered their financial support. “When you are dealing with people who have given their lives to God, it’s very hard to say no,” Bob said. “Everything they do is for you, or for someone, not for themselves. We wanted to give a gift to the Sisters to thank them for everything they’ve given to the community and to us.”
The barn’s construction is scheduled to begin by the end of April with an anticipated fall completion date.