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Whatever happened to Watchtower Farms?


James Thomas Rook Jr.

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Whatever happened to Watchtower Farms?

Many years ago I visited, and toured "Watchtower farms", which if memory serves, was in Wallkill, New York.

This was a working farm that supplied much or most of the food served to Bethel, in NYC., and elsewhere.

The thought occurred to me today that sometime in the past they closed down the whole operation, and started buying food commercially.... and that I knew NONE of the details. 

The only thing I remember is they had a pond full of Turtles, and across the main road there were parachutists coming down behind the hills I could see, and someone told me that "over there" was a Marine base.

I do remember the main entrance room was huge, nicely appointed, and looked like a high class library lounge.

Anybody else have something they could add?

 

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It is still there, much expanded, and when we visited a few years ago, was where the literature was printed. So far as I know, printing moved out of Brooklyn many years previous to its sale—perhaps so

Book ‘The Righteous Brothers’

Whatever happened to Watchtower Farms? Many years ago I visited, and toured "Watchtower farms", which if memory serves, was in Wallkill, New York. This was a working farm that supplie

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1 hour ago, James Thomas Rook Jr. said:

Anybody else have something they could add?

It is still there, much expanded, and when we visited a few years ago, was where the literature was printed. So far as I know, printing moved out of Brooklyn many years previous to its sale—perhaps some specialty things were printed there, but no more than that, and Patterson has never been used for printing.

They did stop growing food there ages ago, having decided it could be purchased more economically, all factors considered. It used to be as you entered on the main road, residence buildings were on your left, and various fields of produce, along with a barn or three, were on your right. There was no printery at all.

’Davey the kid,’ who I have written about a few times, and who appears in the afterword of Tom Irregardless and Me, worked in the cheese room there. He later published a book on cheese-making. He and a few other Bethelites formed ‘The Farmhand Band’ and would entertain others of the family—perhaps even those outside. I tagged along a time or two as others who knew him went down to visit, though in time we would serve together as elders in an outside congregation.

He was one of those enormously talented brothers that everything he touched turned to gold. Walking into the 8-story Medical Arts building in Rochester—for upon leaving Bethel, he had to make a living—in order to secure the cleaning contract, the manager noted some areas of particular challenge, but then conceded that he didn’t know much about cleaning. ‘That makes two of us!’ Davey told me his (unspoken) reaction later, as he wowed the fellow with pure charm. “It’s my gift,” he told me later, “they never say no.”

He built a Kingdom Hall in Rochester, built another one, and then an Assembly Hall. Of course, it wasn’t all him—there were committees, but he was always the go-to driving force, if only because he seemed never at a loss as to what to do, while others needed time to get their heads around new things. During the Assembly Hall build, he got tired of putting out ‘cleaning fires,’ as he would call them, which would take him away to the telephone. So he took some college courses, accumulated enormous college credit via ‘life experiences’ and emerged a psychotherapist. I would joke with him that—poor fellow that he was, he always suspected that half of us were nuts, and now that he had become a psychotherapist he discovers that even the half that he thought were sane—they’re nuts, too.

He told me of the respect he had gained for the college courses with regard to psychology. He had entered upon the coursework assuming that it would be all necessary drivel, but he presently said, ‘Hey, I am not doing some of these things myself’ and benefited accordingly. 

He died a while back and so this is more-or-less an obituary that I did not intend when I started this remark—thanks for giving me the prod. His wife has died, too.  And to think that Davey made major waves in his non-believing family, for he by-passed a full university scholarship for the sake of enrolling as a pioneer. He wasn’t exactly typical.

(Srecko’s link is of ‘Mountain Farms’ the original location of Gilead—much smaller and far removed from the other three complexes.)

 

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I was there a couple of years ago with my parents. Everything was winding down so that there was a huge lobby room but only one person taking in persons for tours. And we were the only tour for several hours. The area is beautiful, and they keep the fields well kept but without the livestock that was once plentiful. And much less planting/harvesting, except on "personal plots" nothing field-sized anymore. As JTR implied, they have moved away from handling their own meat products and nearly stopped all planting compared to the years when it fed the Bethel families in NY. Today it's a printing and binding operation, mostly for the Bibles and songbooks, and some specialty items.There is a small shop where they restore very old books and Bibles that are bought or donated to the Bethel libraries, and displays.

(Also there are some very nice historical displays of books behind glass, and a very long painted wall mural that covers the history of the Watchtower factories from early days to today.)

The only persons we really got to talk to were a couple of very old brothers who had been sent here to retire. Even before Covid there was almost no contact any more with the other Bethels in NY (Patterson, Tuxedo, Brooklyn*) except for a few brothers who drive trucks. "Visits" from the GB are almost exclusively by video. We had a friend there who invited us to lunch, but it was just a cafeteria/buffet style that was NOTHING like the food of the "old days" and I don't think hardly any of it was grown locally. (Nothing is grown on the Farm itself in any "industrial scale" just a few hobbyists growing tomatoes, basil, etc., to share with the Farm family.)

*Brooklyn was down to just a couple of sales offices at the time.

Kingdom Halls have been sold recently for 3 million, and that's the price of all the acreage at Kingdom Farms, for sale? So I don't think there is any hurry. Perhaps someone could buy it to put on a Woodstock II.

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19 minutes ago, TrueTomHarley said:

(Srecko’s link is of ‘Mountain Farms’ the original location of Gilead—much smaller and far removed from the other three complexes.)

That makes much more sense. Thanks for pointing this out. I saw Lansing when I scanned the news article and it confused me.

By the way, my favorite member of the Governing Body, hands down, was Brother John Booth. He was just the most personable brother and no one would have ever guessed he was on the Governing Body if they hadn't been told. In fact, he even skipped his rotation at Bethel's morning worship. Turns out he had donated the original Gilead property.

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2 hours ago, JW Insider said:

Today it's a printing and binding operation, mostly for the Bibles and songbooks, and some specialty items.There is a small shop where they restore very old books and Bibles that are bought or donated to the Bethel libraries, and displays.

At what appears to be the same address - 900 Red Mills Rd, Wallkill, NY 12589...

...is another type of "farm"/corporation, for "religion, spiritual development"

VALLEY FARMS CORPORATION

Mission

Valley Farms Corporation is a religious organization formed to purchase, sell, or lease real property to support the needs of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States. The organization remits any income generated from the real property it owns to Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.     

 https://www.guidestar.org/profile/11-2925405

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Valley Farms Corporation is a real estate association based in Wallkill, NY that was founded in 1987. As of 2018 they had $284,426 in revenue and $2.0 million in assets.

 
The IRS revoked this organization's federal tax exemption on 2013-05-15, for not filing a Form 990-series annual return or notice for three consecutive tax years.

Program areas at Valley Farms Corporation

Acquiring real property and holding title to, and collecting income from such property

https://www.causeiq.com/organizations/valley-farms-corporation,112925405/#section_form990s

 

 

 

(information provided by Kim Mikey youtube)

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