The story of the monastery farm

The monastery farm.

Monks' labour which seems unbearable to a layman, is, to the monastic light and joyful, done with prayer, in God's honour. Voluntary labour, is based like all other penance on faith but not compulsion, yielding unparallelled fruit. It is evident even today, after fifty years of devastation and torture.

Having become Abbot, father lonafan built a model mechanized farm with seventy head of cattle, six kilometres to the West of the monastery in 1882. The cow-shed, provided a separate room for each cow, built with regard for facilitating access to the hay-loft.

In the cattle-yard.
Cattle-feed was delivered by rail-road. Water was piped in. There was also a fish-breeding facility with clay breeding boxes, which were also made at the monastery.

Archimandrite Afanasy (Nechajev) wrote about labour in Valaam: 'The main principle of penance on Valaam is doing everything by one's own hands. It accouts for the large number of crafts and work-shops: tannery, metal-working, harness-making, sewing, pottery, brick-making, cooperage, carpentry, etc. Some monks work in their cells making boxes decorated with poker-work showing the views of Valaam, paint icons, pictures, cut spoons.

On Obedience.
During the work, the Hagiography is read in the workshop to prevent idle talking. The gardens and orchards (more than six hundred trees) yielded large quantities of crops. There were at least fifty different varieties of apples, with the total crop of fifty tons per harvest. The brethren had as much as eighty kilograms of fresh berries for dinner: currants, gooseberries, raspberries. Eight-kilo water-melons were to be seen, three-kilo melons, thirty-three-kilo pumpkins grew in the monastery green-houses. In Ser-gievsky and Germanovsky sketes high-quality granite was cut and shipped to St. Petersburg. "The highest goal is spiritual growth, and labour is but a means", wrote father Afanasy. "Then the religious aspirations and prayers are happily combined with work".