Passersby on Cockshutt Road, simply north of Renton, were kept speculating for two years throughout the building of a new barn-like building on the picturesque setting of Will and Rita Stratford's sheep farm. It became clear that this was more than a rustic-looking house with a big graveled parking lot. Early in May, there appeared on the side of the two-story light yellow wooden building the name Fibre Farm Market, along with images of a sheep, a tea cup and a cross.
Now known as The Common Good, word has actually spread out about this fantastic sanctuary of calm reflection and inviting smiles. It lies at 946 Concession 11 Townsend Road, at Cockshutt Road. It's about a 10-minute drive south from Waterford.
There are skeins of wool from local sheep and goats, consisting of rare types of long-haired sheep from the flocks on the Stratfords' farm. Farmhouse hospitality is provided with easy fare of food and beverages prepared daily in the kitchen area to invite visitors.
" Although the business regulating limits are blurred in between traditional business and a charitable company, the vision for this 'store-house' resembles a sort of social business that does not model itself after any other," says Rita Stratford.
" The Common Good is both a market and a ministry, both company and charitable, and yet non-profit. As a Christian women's co-operative, it operates with the resources, capabilities, presents and talents of lots of women. It seeks to end up being a location where women can be supported, encouraged and influenced in both their spiritual journeys and innovative efforts."
Regional artisans collect to provide their handmade products, in addition to their time and talents, for The Common Good. Some provide a range of classes while others provide mentoring in crocheting and knitting.
Participants in the women's co-operative are needed to prepare food and beverages for the tea room or work in the store for four hours a week.
When I came by previously today, Heather Neveu of Port Rowan was stirring soup for lunch. She discussed that she helps at The Common Good on Wednesday mornings throughout the break time for her hubby who needs home care. Her knitted items are for sale at the store.
A large wrap-around front deck holds 2 looms. Theresa Weaver enjoyed the sunlight and fresh breeze as she wove a shawl on the triangle loom. She was unable to use the bigger 1860s barn loom because a robin had constructed her nest on it and the bird had "sitting rights."
Weaver said she enjoys the friendship and mentoring from Stratford and the other women in the co-operative as she improves her weaving abilities. She also wants to keep an eye out over the flock of sheep grazing in a neighboring field, understanding that it's their wool she's using to weave her shawl.
Last summertime, Stratford dyed the wool with horsetail lawn growing behind the sheep barn. It is a fulfilling experience to prepare the color over an open fire and see completion product on a loom. Stratford, a self-taught fiber artist, says she finds she has less time to devote to producing linen and woolen pieces. She is content for now to gather women and develop the co-operative.
The Common Good's Facebook site gives more details about classes being offered for spinning, weaving, bread-making and more. In July and August, there will be a class to produce a personal journal from recycled books. The classes are open to men, too.
The Stratfords have actually opened their farm for The Common Good so that it can continue to stream as a self-sufficient living entity, constantly altering, progressing, growing, developing and producing. The pictures of the sheep, cross and tea cup on the building make good sense. They represent farm, faith and fellowship. The Common Good is open up until Sept 30 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays to Fridays. For special occasions, it is open evenings and Sundays.
To find out more or to sign up for classes, phone 519-443-0552, or drop by to meet Stratford and the others. Old Town Hall summertime show series begins again on Thursday, June 30, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and continues through the summertime on the front lawn of on Main Street South in Waterford. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for musical home entertainment. Inspect the Old Town Hall's website for the 2016 schedule of performers.