Ellen Straus

February 21, 1927 - November 30, 2002



Eco-farm memorial
Greatful Dead or Faithful Departed

Here we are as in olden days, Happy golden days of yore. Faithful friends who are dear to us, Gather near to us once more.

Here we are to honor those shepherds of sustainable agriculture that left our flock this past year. I want to start with a little reading from John O’Donohue’s book of Celtic Wisdom, Anam Cara.

“In Connemara the graveyards are near the ocean, where there is a lot of sandy soil. To open the grave, the sod is cut on three sides. It is rolled back very carefully from the surface of the field, but it is not broken off. Then the coffin is put down. The prayers are said and the grave is blessed and filled. Then the sod is rolled out over the grave so that it fits exactly over the opening. It is as if the womb of the earth, without being broken, is receiving back the individual who once left as a clay shape to live in separation above in the world. It is an image of homecoming, of being taken back completely again.”

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ELLEN STRAUS - Other than Straus Family Kosher and Organic dairy products, Mrs. Straus was best known for her work with the Marin Agricultural Land Trust. (also known as MALT), which she co-founded with Phyllis Faber in 1980. Since then, MALT has acquired development easements on 47 farms comprising over 32,000 acres. This is somewhere between one forth and one third of the privately held farmland in Marin. Recognized in 1998 by American Farmland Trust she said that “as individuals, we are responsible for what is happening in our communities, and we become activists.”

It is said that she came in 1949 to “honeymoon permanently” on the shores of Tomales Bay. The vision of her farm, family, and the bay were her last earthly memories and what a comfort they must have brought to her passing. I don’t know if any of the Straus family is here, we know that your hearts are rent with sorrow to face this life without her gentle encouragement. Know then, too, what an extraordinary blessing to have had a mother, lover, friend or grandmother like Ellen Straus! May Ha Shem be near you.

In conclusion, I’ll share another bit of John O’Donohue,

“If you are striving to be equal to your destiny and worthy of the possibilities that sleep in the clay of your heart, then you should be regularly reaching new horizons. Against this perspective, death can be understood as the final horizon. Beyond there, the deepest well of your identity awaits you. In that well, you will behold the beauty and light of your eternal face.”