For more than 20 years, the monastic farmstead at Lysaya Gora has been providing shelter and supported employment to disadvantaged men who are homeless, are suffering from substance dependence, or have criminal records. On average, around 170 men are staying at the farmstead at any given moment. The aim is to help our brothers rebuild their lives and to rediscover the joy of creative and productive work.
The available choices of occupations have mostly been related mostly to agriculture, cattle breeding being one of the most prominent. The farmstead’s livestock now numbers 45 heads of cattle and almost two hundred goats. The surplus of raw milk has made it possible to move on to the next step – processing the surplus milk to make dairy products for the market.
A small-scale cheese-making workshop was launched a few years ago. Three brothers residing at the farmstead are working at the workshop at present, under the guidance of a professional technologist. To the brothers, this is a great opportunity to master a new profession, learn the skills and secrets of dairy making, and to develop self-discipline and responsibility, the qualities that are essential in life and in the job market.
At present, work is underway to start making hard cheeses, which depends on facilities and equipment for ripening, storage and packaging. The production will be based in a converted vegetable store cellar. Already, work is underway on the renovation of the cellar. The plan is to install a climate control and ventilation system, and equipment for cutting and packaging the cheese. The project will also make it possible to expand into other product groups such as butter, yoghurt, sour milk drinks, and ice cream.
The success of the project will make an important difference in the life of the Convent and the community. For the Convent, the added revenue will make it possible to accommodate more people in need at its farmstead. More residents will get experience in doing jobs that require responsibility and skill, and to develop good working habits. The number of brothers who can choose this occupation will increase from three to at least sixteen. Lastly, the people in the community will be able to enjoy new brands of cheese and dairy products while knowing that the money that they will spend on it will help a good cause.
As our patron saint Grand Duchess Elisabeth wrote, God’s image in a person may dim, but it can never be erased. Through our ministry, we are working to restore the image of God in our disadvantaged brothers and sisters, and this project is a step in this direction. Your donation towards this project will be valued and appreciated. Please go to our donation page if you wish to make one, or consider acquiring one or more products of our monastic workshop.
We draw our inspiration from the life and works of our patron saint, Grand Duchess Elisabeth. After the assassination of her husband, she went on to found a convent dedicated to ministering to the poor. She was martyred by the Bolsheviks.