Schooners shed light on ancient winter solstice celebration

Aerial photo shows the Serpent Mound at Schooner Farms.


BG Independent News

At Schooner Farms, they do things their own way.

“Nothing we do out here is considered normal. It’s even weird to some people,” Don Schooner said. “But we like being a little different. We like bringing some of these old methodologies back. It’s not that hard especially if you marry them with these new technologies. It’s easier than it’s ever been.”

That’s the approach Schooner and Becky White-Schooner are taking in their new holiday celebration.

Next week for four nights, the Schooners are welcoming folks to come out to Schooner Farms to celebrate the winter solstice  just as northern people have been doing for eons.

The Winter Solstice Luminaria Walk will be held nightly from Thursday, Dec. 20 through Sunday, Dec. 23 at Schooner Farms in Weston of Ohio 235 at the intersection with U.S. 6. There will be two events each night, one at 5:30 and another at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 a vehicle carrying up to six people. The space limitation is the parking lot. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Click here. ( The event will be canceled only in the event of a Level 1 snow emergency.

The celebration will give visitors a chance to wander around the farms’ Serpent Mound and Lavender Labyrinth along paths lit by luminaries, 1,100 of them, each illuminated by a battery-powered light.

There’ll be a bonfire, and Schooner is planning on setting out some Swedish torches, logs that have been split down the middle and set on fire. People can stand around them for warmth and to converse. “That’s what community is all about.”

Along with the bonfire these will provide light in the long winter night as well as warmth.

An eclectic mix of seasonal music, not your usual pop tunes, Schooner said, will be played over speakers.

Infinite Zen Coffee & Noshery will be on hand with their food truck serving warm drinks and food. The farm’s gift shop will also be open.

“We pay a lot of attention to the seasons and changing of the seasons,” Schooner said. “We thought it would be something people would enjoy, something out of town, out in the country in a little different setting.”

People have been marking the solstice, when the nights stop getting longer, and the days begin, however imperceptibly, to grow longer.

“People just need to get back outside,” Schooner said. “A lot of times people don’t take the opportunity to get outside and experience the weather a little bit. Bundle up. Walk around and warm up by the fire and experience a crisp winter night.”

It’s part of Schooner Farms’ mission to reintroduce people to ancient methodologies and show them how using some modern technology they can integrate them into their lives.

The Serpent Mound is a tribute to those ancient ways. It is modeled on the ancient mounds built by indigenous peoples as long as 3,000 years ago in what is now southern Ohio.

Schooner said the mound is one-third the size of the original. He set it up so it aligns with the cycles of the moon.

The mound and its original purpose is a mystery, adding all the more to their appeal.

Schooner’s has a clear purpose — growing berries and vegetables and next spring lavender.

He created them because he was already building Hugel Kultur mounds. This ancient method of farming uses piles of logs, branches and other wood and compost with a layer of topsoil for cultivation.

As the wood underneath breaks down it provides a rich source of nutrients, and since the plots are mounded, there’s no need for paths. Someone can just reach in to harvest the crops.

This ancient form of cultivation started, he said, in Eastern Europe.

Anyone with a backyard garden can and should consider using it, he said.

The solstice event will give people another way to experience the mounds.

“We wanted to do something that would bring the community out and get them off the beaten path a little bit.”