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A mural is worth a thousand words

By Jane Bollinger
June 12, 2013

HONESDALE, PA — The mural painters have a really big canvas—the side of a brick building at 7th and Main streets in Honesdale, and as the artists work, a rural farm scene emerges—a red barn in the distance under a brilliant blue sky, a contented brown cow in the foreground staring at passersby, a farmhouse surrounded by fields of dazzling green, a bounty of vibrant fruits and vegetables spilling into the foreground, and at the bottom of the canvas, a waving banner where the words “Wayne County Grown” will be painted. (More about that in a minute.)

On Sunday there was a good turnout of painters—a mix of talented local artists and average citizen volunteers. The on-site coordinator, Jeff George, a local professional artist and member of the Wayne County Arts Alliance (WCAA), gives each newly arrived volunteer a specific section to work on, helps each novice mix paint colors, and demonstrates how to paint with a steady hand. Soon a line of painters is hard at work.

“We get a lot of shout-outs when we’re working here,” George reports. “Someone driving by will holler, ‘Lookin’ good,’ or ‘Hey, you missed a spot.’”

The mural was conceived by a group of Wayne County farmers who are members of the statewide Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA for short). As the project came together, the farmers received plenty of guidance, encouragement and hands-on help from some members of the WCAA.

The project was funded by a grant from a small private foundation.

“The idea of the mural,” explains Billy Templeton who, along with Amanda Avery Templeton and Susan Klikus, wrote the original grant proposal, “is to highlight both the area’s strong agricultural roots and to show the future that we hope to see take place here. With PASA’s eyes on sustainability, we are looking to build a community that’s based on sustainable farming practices here in Wayne County, using that concept to bring a new era of farming here.”

Sustainable farming is based on following natural, chemical-free growing methods; protecting the soil from erosion and loss of nutrients; and avoiding groundwater contamination. But that’s not all; sustainable farming also seeks to create a living (sustainable) wage for farmers and farm workers and to rebuild rural economies and nurture strong local communities.