The story of 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
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.
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.
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".