“Looking back, I love the South so much, even though there was a time when I didn’t feel so proud of being from there. The sense of community there is unheard of in this day and age. The idea that it takes a village to raise a child—it works.” – Samuel Jackson.
A few years ago, while on a different book tour, that one for Will Jesus Buy Me a Doublewide?, I happened upon the community of Cullman, Alabama.
At that time Cullman was recovering from tornado that had ripped through the heart of the city. Traveling as I do I have come to recognize that towns are much like people — each one has its own personality.
Some towns are cranky. Some towns are gracious. Some towns embrace strangers. Some towns fear outsiders. Some towns take care of their own. Some towns complain that nobody takes care of them. Some towns give and give and give. Some towns whine and whine and whine.
The personality of a town is simply a reflection of the people who live within it. The good people in Cullman are the welcoming sort. The kind of people who take care of one another. The kind of people who embrace strangers. Cullman has created spaces where beauty and art thrive.
One of those places is Stone Bridge Farms. Like many of the best parts of Cullman, Stone Bridge has been passed down from generation to generation.
The Rev. V. L. Foust and his wife were the first to host weddings & family gatherings on their property decades ago.
It’s anyone’s guess how many marriages a pastor who served for fifty years performed. But it is a fact that Rev. Foust and his wife made a fuss over each bride, and every groom. Mrs. Foust would gather flowers from her own garden.
On the day I visited Stone Bridge Farms, Connie Moore was tending to the floral deliveries. She’s the current event manager and a long-time friend of SBF’s owner Ron Foust, the Rev. Foust’s grandson. Connie held the door open to the refrigerated room where hundreds of dozens of flowers are stored in preparation for the four, count them, four upcoming weddings planned over the long weekend.
Stone Bridge is a full-fledged wedding event center these days, replete with a Dressing Cottage.
And For Him.
A gleaming chapel.
Lodging & Restaurant.
Gazebos & fireplace pits & even an outdoor stage.
These are just a few of the serene places of grace that Ron Foust and his staff have created in the midst of the rolling farmland on the outskirts of the town of Cullman, Alabama. It was all Ron’s dream, Connie says. A way for Ron to honor his grandfather and to carry on the family traditions. I don’t have any weddings to plan but if I did, Stone Bridge Farms would be the perfect setting.
The last time I visited Cullman I was a guest at the lovely Sacred Heart Monastery, where I met Sister Tonette and heard the story of God’s call upon her life.
This time I was the guest of Stone Bridge Farms, and a dreamer named Ron.
What community do you visit when you go in search of beauty and grace and hospitality?