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Brown Barn Beacon helps people through 'therapy' animals, gardening

Brown Barn Beacon became a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2020 and includes a board of directors and articles of incorporation.

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Michele Stadler has big plans for her farmstead northwest of Jamestown. The development of Brown Barn Beacon is set to begin soon.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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BUCHANAN, N.D. – The founder of Brown Barn Beacon aims to help more people by building a barn on a farmstead that will provide a safe haven for people struggling with hardships in life.

Brown Barn Beacon especially focuses on people who struggle with mental health through “therapy” animals, doing tasks that make them self-sufficient and “unplugging” from electronics, phones and the internet, Michele Stadler said.

“Just unplug from the world and its craziness and its ever-changing challenging atmosphere,” she said.

Stadler said Brown Barn Beacon has been a dream and vision of hers since 2003. Brown Barn Beacon is located on a 13.5-acre farmstead about 7 miles southwest of Buchanan at 2831 76th Ave. SE.

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Michele Stadler holds an aerial photo of her farmstead. She plans to create and build Brown Barn Beacon northwest of Jamestown.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Brown Barn Beacon is a nonprofit organization that opened in 2015. Stadler said Brown Barn Beacon became a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2020 and includes a board of directors and articles of incorporation.

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“It’s not about money. For me, it’s not about riches or gain,” she said. “It’s about showing God’s love and grace through excellence for hurting and wounded people. That’s actually the mission statement.”

Stadler said the nonprofit organization helps about 20 people per year. She said she shows her love to others and shows them God’s love and grace while they help her by doing tasks such as feeding animals, growing a garden and canning food.

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Brown Barn Beacon founder Michele Stadler sits with some chickens that she raises at her little farmhouse northwest of Jamestown.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Brown Barn Beacon provides opportunities for people to get back in touch with nature through animals. Brown Barn Beacon has “therapy” chickens and cats and will get other animals such as sheep and horses.

Stadler said she also has chickens that are incubated, raised, butchered and canned.

“I don’t freeze them because you never know what will happen with electricity, so that’s why we can,” she said.

A couple of farmers also let her get feed such as corn, sunflower seeds and barley for the animals during the winter.

Brown Barn Beacon has a 100-by-75-foot garden that people come out to help plant, weed and harvest the vegetables. Last year, people and volunteers canned 500 tomatoes, 50 pounds of carrots and 40 chickens.

“This is all sustainable food to give back to feed the people with when they are there,” she said.

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Stadler said the animals and garden help people who are struggling with mental health become more self-sufficient and build their self-esteem.

“It is the process of becoming independent and learning how to live sustainably,” she said. “Planting, watering, weeding, feeding the chickens, raising the chickens, gathering the eggs, pickling the eggs, there is a lot of sustainable living that goes on out there.”

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Brown Barn Beacon founder Michele Stadler holds some of the canned goods that are processed at her little farmhouse northwest of Jamestown.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

She said people who struggle with mental health have a difficult time getting on a routine. She said doing all the tasks helps people get on a routine and creates a sense of purpose for them.

“I’m teaching people how they can take care of themselves, physically, but even with food, exercise and fresh air and vitamin D from the sun,” Stadler said. “All of it is combined to help mental wellness.”

By raising animals and planting and harvesting a garden, people with hardships can enjoy nature and get back to the basics of life and a simpler way of living, she said. Brown Barn Beacon does not have internet service, and Stadler does not have a cellphone.

“I’m actually living it myself. It has helped my anxiety a ton to be able to be more present in the moment without texting and all of that,” she said.

Once the people leave Brown Barn Beacon, Stadler stays in contact with them and helps connect them with support groups such as Celebrate Recovery.

Fundraising efforts

Currently, Brown Barn Beacon is in the process of raising funds for a new barn. Stadler said the barn was torn down because it got damaged from weather and was unsafe.

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Brown Barn Beacon will hold a Burgers for the Beacon event from 5 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday from May 24 through Aug. 16 at the parking lot of Inspired Healthcare, 715 10th St. SE, next to Subway. Burgers, hot dogs, a dessert and drink can be purchased and a prize will be given away each week during a drawing at 6 p.m. that people must be present for to win.

On Aug. 16, those who attend the Burgers for the Beacon event will have an opportunity to win a grill.

She said the weekly Burgers for the Beacon event will lead to a larger fundraiser in August or September.

The proceeds from the fundraising events will be used to build a barn that will be built to stay. She also wants to get a full-time grounds person and a personal assistant.

Stadler’s son, Trent, will be making a hands-on model of the barn and property and a rendering will also be available to view.

For more information about Brown Barn Beacon, visit http://brownbarnbeacon.weebly.com.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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