This is our Annual Giving Campaign for 2017. We hope you will help contribute to Providence Farm's on-going therapeutic community and the peace it bring to so many of the Cowichan Valley's most vulnerable people. We thank all our supporters past present and future for keeping our farm and services viable. Please watch Bill's video and read his story.
Please send us your story to let Bill know where you were and how you felt the day John Lennon died. In this way, we hope to inspire empathy with Bill, a better understanding of his mental illness, and indeed with all our participants at the Farm.
At some level it is all our story.
There is a space for your story on the donation form.
Bill Baker is a familiar sight in the Cowichan Valley. Whether driving a tractor, guiding walking tours of Providence Farm, or selling our organic produce at the Farmers Market in Duncan (which he did for 24 years straight without a break), he’s is hard to miss in his red cap, cracking a wizened smile. What’s not so obvious, however, is that Bill suffers from mental illness.
He started working at the Farm in the 1980s, hence he’s seen a thing or two and knows what we get up to around here. “The horticulture therapy is one thing,” he says, “but what we really need to grasp is therapy with social enterprise.” Indeed, lately it’s been a challenge trying to combine not-for-profit therapy with for-profit cultivation, especially after the excessively cold winter and wet spring we had this year.
Our compost, however, has thrived. That’s Bill’s department. He started composting at Providence Farm in 1995. “Where the labyrinth is now is where I had my original compost pile,” he says. “And if you can believe it, I used to get my dump truck in there, in the sloppy muck, and dump the manure, once a week, every week.”
Bill is a Master Composter, one of only two in the Valley. Sporting a t-shirt with “Captain Compost” emblazoned across its chest, he works around the Farm, preparing compost for our farmer, programs and allotment gardeners.
When he first came to Providence Farm, 33 years ago, Bill was in a revolving door syndrome with mental illness: getting better for a while, and then relapsing. “I was blessed to be allowed to come here,” he says.
So what happened in his life that led to his illness? “I joined the peace movement,” he says. “In those days it was all about No Nukes. I took it pretty personally because I was a pacifist. December 1980, I was about to fly home to be with my family for Christmas. I was working in Fort McMurray at the time, because that’s where the money was. I came home from work and was about to catch my flight to Vancouver when I heard that John Lennon had been shot. Well, if anybody remembers, John Lennon was the peace movement. He was our mentor. So that was pretty much the trigger.” On Christmas Day 1980, Bill was diagnosed schizophrenic.
Love and trust are in abundance at Providence Farm, an inclusive community dedicated to healing those in the Cowichan Valley who, like Bill, struggle with mental health challenges. But the Farm also needs some peace of mind this holiday season. To continue to do the good work that we do through our therapeutic day programs, which has won us a special place in the hearts of our community, we rely on donations. Our work cannot endure without your support.
Please give generously to our Annual Giving Campaign, so we can continue to help people like Bill Baker. Providence Farm is a sanctuary for mental health in the Cowichan Valley. Your gift to the Farm will allow us to continue to heal the disadvantaged in our community and give them - indeed, all of us at the Farm - peace of mind this Christmas. “Core funding, baby!” says Bill.
Thank you for your consideration.
"On Dec, 8, 1980 while on my way home from school in Calgary I heard that John Lennon was shot. I felt remorse in that it was a senseless killing." -- Mike
"Merry Christmas Bill: I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news that John Lennon had died. I was in my apartment listening to the radio when they broke into the music with the news. I was shaocked, devastated and saddened. Here was a man who lived his life promoting peace and he died so violently. I wish you peace Bill..." -- Therese Samson
"On a flight returning from a cataract meeting in LA." -- Dr. David Wakelin
"I was working at night at a bakery in Hinton Alberta" - Nick Verstig
"Hi Bill: I was in a hotel restaurant in Seattle when we heard the news of John Lennon's death. It somehow was harder to hear being away from home (supposedly on a holiday) in the U.S. to boot. My boyfriend and I were big fans of the Beatles, growing up with them, so we were stunned by the news! I felt homesick, vulnerable and a little lost, as if part of my own history had been assaulted, and my friend was similarly upset. I still remember the waitress telling us with shock in her voice!" -- Alison
"Bill: I want to thank you for once again showing your love and appreciation for Providence Farm by telling your story so openly. You are still someone who feels intensely and tries to make a difference. Where was I in 1980? - preparing to celebrate our first Christmas at Providence Farm - three Sisters of St. Ann and the Jakabowski family. I too wanted to give my life to make a difference - I became a Sister of St. Ann - teacher - administrator, social worker where the nucleus of Providence Farm began - we were the new pioneers of Providence land. I was never a Beatles fan -- too old--, but I shared a passion!" -- Frieda SSA.
"Hi Bill, I just want to share an idea with you. The Spirit of John Lennon is alive and well. He is with you every time you hear his music. Every time you think about John, his spirit is visiting with you and enjoying your company. Many loves and hugs to you."
"I can not specifically recall where I was when john Lennon died. I can recall however how sad and shocked I was that someone would be so inclined to take away the life of someone who really promoted peace! I love the words of the song "Imagine" and feel that Lennon would have gone on to continue a promotion of world peace and understanding."
Stories for Bill
The following are stories submitted from folks affected by John Lennon's tragic death.