|HSV currently provides vegetables for about 60 CSA shareholders|
|The 90 kw solar array greets visitors at the main entrance|
Hancock Shaker Village is a center for exploring what it means to live a principled life in the 21st century. Part of that process is to understand the impact of energy consumption on our selves, our community, and our world. We at Hancock Shaker Village look to the Shakers' use of water, wind and other renewable energy sources as an inspiration for how we run the Village today... [A]ll season long we incorporate this modern renewable energy and sustainable agriculture initiative into our daily and seasonal programming – helping to bridge the gap between past, present, and the potential for the future.
|Farm and Facilities Manager Bill Mangiardi on the job|
As I say, these additions don't represent a radical shift away from HSV's tried-and-true interpretation. Its annual fall Country Fair and wildly popular Baby Animals event in the spring in no way challenge the conventional emphasis on the aesthetic qualities of this lovely New England place. The fair is heavy on high-end handcrafts and the spring event reinforces the association of small-scale, "old-tyme" farming with the childlike, the nostalgic, the cute and fluffy, something I've tended to see as one of the more insidious strategies that historic farm sites adopt in order to attract an audience.
But the sheer numbers that HSV manages to pull in in this way--15,000 for the 2012 Baby Animals--make me less dismissive. Out of that considerable crowd there are bound to be a substantial number of people who notice the PV panels and the working farm fields and who perhaps inquire about the CSA or leave with a sense that there's something unexpectedly vigorous and forward-looking happening at this beautiful historic site. Over time, those oddly-juxtaposed elements--the cutesy and the experimental--may support a lasting shift into more consequential food and energy production, a circuitous route back (or forward) into a different and more interesting kind of authenticity.
 For more on the history of HSV, see its website. On the fascinating subject Shaker tourism, see Gregory Clark, “Shaker Tourism and the Rhetorical Experience of the Aesthetic” in Rhetorical Landscapes in America: Variations on a Theme from Kenneth Burke (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2004, pp. 50-68), and recent work by emeritus Cornell historian R. Laurence Moore.