Written by Carol Roberts, board member, Quarterly editor
Photos by Thomas Sprunger
“Places are…defined less by unique locations, landscapes, and communities than by the focusing of experiences and intentions onto a particular setting.”— E. C. Relph, “Place and Placelessness,” The Natural Heritage of Indiana
Jann Prince has focused her challenging life experiences, intentions, efforts and strong will on a particular place: Peace Farm in Wells County. A lush green forest divides a patchwork of hay fields, wildflower meadows, pasture for her horses and “a seasonal creek that’s deep in spring rush water.”
On a nearby pond, in this valley south of a continental divide, she watches blue-spotted salamanders, leopard frogs and a beaver. “The raccoons, coyotes, deer, Red-tail Hawks, Great Horned Owls, Barred Owls, Screech Owls, Eastern Bluebirds, Indigo Buntings and woodpeckers bring me real joy!”
Jann’s inspiration to protect land in Indiana came from a life-changing trip to California where she “stumbled upon” Muir Woods:
“Entering Muir Woods was an eye-opening, unearthly and spiritual experience that brought me to my knees. And when I read that one person could do something, and have so much influence, I could see what a new way forward might look like for me.”
(Muir Woods’ primeval redwood forest was protected as our first National Monument because of a land donation from one congressman who then insisted it be named and dedicated to John Muir.)
Back home in Indiana, Jann sought land to buy,* which she named Peace Farm. Her decision and ability to protect land was enabled by a mental, emotional and physical strength developed through power-lifting. A winning competitor, she turned the sport into a successful business, Jann’s Power Gym, providing her the financial resources to purchase land.
John Muir’s affirmation of connectedness (“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”) was a catalyst in Jann’s decision:
“I love the idea that all is connected, trees, people, creatures, air, water…this idea is somewhat personal for me. If only everyone could understand how everything is connected…‘how one touch of nature makes the whole world kin’.”
She remembered Muir’s “Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees,” and the words of St. Francis she learned long ago from her sister (a Franciscan nun whose order follows St. Francis of Assisi): “Let me be an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love…” Jann says that for her, Peace Farm is “a safe haven, a refuge, a sliver of heaven.”
And she remembers another inspiration from her past: John Lennon’s music. “In 1965, I wanted to be a surfer girl…become a working hippie with John Lennon’s Imagine as my guide to a peaceful lifestyle. If I could have one word on a rock, it would be Imagine.” Jann appreciates ACRES’ long-range vision to imagine how our area’s land can return to a natural state.
“I can’t think of anything that means more to me than having this land forever protected by ACRES,” she says. “After a hundred years, this land will still be here—because of ACRES.”
*Jann later added acreage to her original purchase