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Yale 62

Apple Pond Farm Devastated by Tornado
By Dick Riseling

“A whopper of a tornado hit here on April 22. Apple Pond Farm and Renewable Energy Education Center was hit by a tornado that compromised our home, main equipment, and storage buildings. It wiped out our huge barn and smashed most of our farm equipment. The twister knocked down or broke off at 40′ our wonderful stand of spruce trees, felled over a hundred trees on our hay fields, and blew our fences down. It eliminated nine out-buildings where we held various workshops, and destroyed our wind turbine, and solar systems.

“Settled in 1739, there is no record of such a weather event in this area, and we took the major brunt of this one by far.

“Ironically, our straw bale house stands, although it took a lot of hits from flying trees and equipment. No person or animal was hurt. I was inside nursing a trashed rotator cup, broken humerus, and some other ailments which probably saved me. It came and went in less than three very dramatic minutes. We will be six months in cleaning it up.

“We built everything from scratch ourselves back in the early ’70s when costs were very low. We used recycled materials as much as we could. So, we are substantially underinsured.

“The land is held in a very specific agricultural easement; so it will be protected for at least 200 years for farming use. We’ve pledged to make it affordable at substantially below market value even at the now much lower value. The buildings will come down and we will rebuild enough to make the place workable for new farmers and educators of agriculture and ecological living synergy.

“We’re not asking for financial assistance. This was a natural event that somehow chose us. Sonja and I have been the recipients of nature’s majestic and wonderful knowledge and experience for 53 years. And now, we have tremendous support and encouragement from our neighbors and apprentices from 17 countries. More time to read and hopefully write and publish about the task of realigning our thoughts and actions with the requirements of Earth.”

Click to view the complete photos of the devastation

Click this image to view the complete photos and video of the devastation

Or click this link to view them — including a 55-second video of clean-up starting up after the event.


We welcome your comments below.

2 comments to Apple Pond Farm Devastated by Tornado

  • Bill Weber


    I am so sorry this has happened; it is only a few hours drive from where I live and I had no idea there had been a tornado at your farm. I well recall our visit at the reunion and wish you and Sonya all the best and hope your farm and health recovers nicely.

  • Philip Stewart

    Just a few weeks ago, Dick and Sonja were sharing with us in our home some of their experiences and remaining projects for Apple Pond Farm, so it is with particular sadness that we read of the catastrophe that has befallen them. But all on board are unharmed, and that is, after all, very good news. Few of us at our age will ever have to tackle anything as difficult as this, and the courage shows in this report. We hope Dick will give us periodic updates on their progress.