From fundraising to farming, Associate Elizabeth Keihm feels as if God prepared her for this job of executive director of Homecoming Farm, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville.
“My previous life experiences, studying theology at St. John’s, teaching Religious Studies at The Mary Louis Academy and being a florist and event planner, all those things come into play in the work that I do here,” said Elizabeth.
Homecoming Farm is a NOFA NY Certified Organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farm which allows members to work together to grow and harvest food while rejecting pesticides which harm the soil, water and life. The farm also provides free produce to guests of the Interfaith Nutrition Network, The INN, a collection of soup kitchens on Long Island.
Elizabeth likes to say: “Homecoming Farm is community-supported agriculture, where agriculture supports the community.” While farming has deep roots in the history of the Amityville Dominicans, Elizabeth loves that the farm also helps people grow in their understanding that humanity is not separate from the world, but one with it.
With the founder of the farm S. Jeanne Clark as her mentor, Elizabeth has embraced the teachings of Passionist priest, Father Thomas Berry who said: “‘The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.’ Everything we do on the farm is informed by that statement,” said Elizabeth.
“The moment we objectify anything: a person, a worm, the soil, water, we feel we are entitled to use it because we are superior,” explained Elizabeth. “That is not how we are, we are subject to each other.”
“We are also rooted in the understanding, that we live in an evolving Universe. We understand that at the moment of the ‘great flaring forth’ at the time of The Big Bang, all the elements of creation were there…stars, planets, soil, animals and Us! Everything,” she continued. “So, we are all made of the stuff of the stars…we are made of stardust. That is a powerful, mystical and beautiful reality. Creation is all connected. All is ONE. It is a scientific truth and spiritual reality. It’s a very Dominican understanding.”
Elizabeth has loved serving as Executive Director for almost 15 years. She feels as if God and her mother led her to this ministry. “One day after my mother died, I was driving into the property and I realized it had never registered that the Motherhouse is called Queen of the Rosary and my Mother used to pray the Rosary every day,” said Elizabeth. “I suddenly had the sense that my mother had made the connection. She had brought me here.”
Now, Elizabeth has taken up her mother’s practice of meditating the Rosary and remembering many people in her eternal prayers.
Elizabeth joined the Dominican family through her friendship with S. Nivard Stabile who simply asked why Elizabeth wasn’t an Associate. Elizabeth said she responded, “I guess, because no one ever asked me.” To that S. Nivard pipped: “Well, I’m asking you!”. Elizabeth has never looked back and treasures the mission of Homecoming Farm and the deep and beautiful relationships she has made with the Dominican Sisters, the families of Homecoming Farm and all of creation that finds life on the land she helps to farm and protect.