In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

New Jerusalem Farm

For the past year or so we've been mulling over a name for this place. Locally it's known as The Hyde Place, since Elizabeth Hyde and (after her death in 1993) her family owned it and loved it for nearly half a century.  Elizabeth herself had named it Sundown Farm -- a perfect description of the daily gloriousness of sunset across the harbour.  But we wanted a name that would evoke the dreams and disappointments that have seeped like fog through the island's history.

Last summer two knowledgable visitors told us they thought Alexander McNutt had settled some of his New Jerusalem immigrants here on the island. It could be. After the expulsion of the French Acadians from Nova Scotia in 1755, the British were eager to settle this land with people more amenable to their imperial goals. McNutt was given vast tracts of land for the settlement of Ulstermen in Nova Scotia.  Most of his schemes came to nothing and eventually he retreated to this island where he lived with his brother Benjamin until he finally returned to Virginia.  

When the Loyalists arrived in Port Roseway in 1783, the British redistributed land once again. Some of the "old settlers" (that is, the ones who had been settled in the area between 1755 and 1783) were moved around to make room for the influx of new refugees.  Benjamin McNutt kept his two hundred and fifty acres on what was already called McNutt's Island, but most of the rest of the island was divided into fifty acre lots for the Loyalists.  It's possible that the island had been a part of the earlier New Jerusalem settlement here in the 1770s.  

In honour of the idea, we decided to name this place New Jerusalem Farm.  It's a name that not only evokes the island's past hopes and dreams, but also our own.  

It's our dream that New Jerusalem Farm will teach us how to live in peace and wonder and grace, attentive to the world unfolding around us and attuned to its unexpected gifts.   Also that eventually we will make apple cider that tastes like a little bit of heaven for a thirsty world.

So with our three hectares of heritage apple trees, we applied for a farm license with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and got it.  Now we are officially New Jerusalem Farm on McNutt's Island.