He will show you his scars. Right there in his office, he unbuttons his shirt, pulls it down at the shoulder and points out the marks of his pain and his survival. He wouldn’t be who he is or where he is without them. He can’t really fish anymore, not since the accident.
But he loves to talk about the process and the power of overcoming,
and on a sunny Sunday, Valee Taylor ’ 79 ushers a group of college
students out the door of the long white sheet metal building at the end
of Lonesome Road.
They’d come to Cedar Grove, a hardscrabble unincorporated
community in northern Orange County, to tour Taylor Fish Farm.
Opened in 2009, it raises tilapia in four massive concrete indoor pools,
producing about 4,000 pounds of mercury-free fish per week. At no
extra charge, the students got a freewheeling yet engrossing treatise on
the state of modern farming, ecological sustainability and rural poverty.
This is Taylor’s family’s land. For a long time, it was an ordinary
North Carolina tobacco farm. Now, this land heals.
The students applaud, and a few hang on Taylor’s words of wisdom
before boarding the bus. His message: Good food produces more
than healthy bodies. It has the power to mend broken spirits and unite
divided communities. The Taylor family has seen it.
A devastating accident left Valee Taylor ’ 79 broken.
His healing had much to do with the new way
he saw and fed the need all around him.
by Matt Dees ’01