About Claret Farm
St. Anthony Mary Claret
Claret Farm is a dream come true for us (Christopher & Christelle Hagen) and our six children. As booksellers, it is not surprising that books have had a major impact on our lives. We have hoped and prayed for a family farm since early in our marriage in 1997, strongly impacted by John Seymour's The Guide to Self-Sufficiency. Seymour gave us hope that living a life on the land as a family was not only possible, but a life of beauty.
Upon moving to Stillwater, MN in 2001, when Christopher was early in his career at Loome Theological Booksellers, we encountered the thought of Peter Maurin, one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement, through a collection of his writings entitled Easy Essays. Maurin's advocacy of the "agronomic university"--a place where he envisioned that workers could become scholars and scholars could become workers--has provided a large measure of the inspiration for our bookish farm. Maurin taught that the house of hospitality for the poor was necessary, but should be considered as Phase One in a broader plan to renew a dying society. For Maurin, who had grown up in an agricultural region in France, the house of hospitality necessarily must be followed by a Phase Two, during which individuals and families would learn to provide for themselves, instead of relying on the generosity of others or being dependent on the government. To borrow a phrase, after a season of giving a man a fish, so he can eat that day, one must teach the man how to fish so he can eat for the rest of his life. Thanks to God's provision of this amazing property as a place where our family can live and work, we now have a place where we can begin to learn these skills and share them with our children and others, through our Claret Farm Days.
Our patron is St. Anthony Claret, a nineteenth-century priest, apostle and missionary, who was archbishop of Santiago, Cuba. As he taught in a book on farming, originally published in Spanish, St. Anthony strongly encouraged families to work small farms and own small businesses, because he believed that this provided stability for families and for society. He encouraged small family farmers to grow a diversity of crops, so that they would be less dependent on the large sugar farms of the day. He even attempted to found his own agronomic university!
Do we feel capable of doing all this? NO! While we know that our efforts to launch this "agronomic university" will necessarily be slow, and our training is minimal for the tasks ahead, we trust in God's aid and provision. In the words of St. Anthony Claret, as recorded in the Office of Readings: "The zealous man desires and achieves all great things and he labors strenuously so that God may always be better known, loved, and served in this world and in the life to come, for this holy love is without end." Will we need others to help us bring this dream to life? YES! We need co-laborers. Is God calling you?