community, education center, and bio/organic farm
School of Living (SOL) and Heathcote’s origins
The SOL was started by Dr. Ralph Borsodi in 1934. His Ugly Civilization and then Flight from the City promoted the back-to-the-land movement outside of New York City. Dr. Borsodi’s homestead was a working laboratory that became SOL. J.I. Rodale and his Organic Gardening magazine got his start there, as did Paul Keene who started Walnut Acres.
As a community land trust (CLT) guided by Henry George’s economics, SOL believes that land must be treated more as a commons benefiting all rather than as private property benefiting few. To achieve this, SOL expanded to begin purchasing of today’s Heathcote property in 1965.
School of Living is now a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization that holds land in trust for present and future generations, promotes personal empowerment, and supports the development of just and sustainable communities.
You can visit SOL at https://www.schoolofliving.org/
Heathcote’s Living Past
The Heathcote Mill was constructed c.1850 by Thomas Wantland as a grist or grain mill. It was purchased in 1862 by Martin Heathcote. Heathcote owned many of Baltimore’s other flour mills, in an area that was among the largest producers of flour in the US at the time. It would eventually be added to Heathcote as part of the land trust in 1969. In addition to the mill, the original community also consisted of several out-buildings and a residential house that is still occupied by members. Polaris, another residential building, was added in 2006.
Started as back-to-the-land movement homesteading community, Heathcote transitioned into a women’s community during the 1980s. It eventually opened to being a multi-gender and multi-faith community in 1994. Today, it continues to grow to include a still more diverse membership and wider outreach in race, class, and geography.
Workshops and classes
Between 1995-2015, Heathcote presented 59 workshops for over 600 participants. That included 14 offerings of our Permaculture course teaching 156 participants, where HEC instructors have certified students in Permaculture Design based on a 72-hour curriculum. This program empowers participants to create their own sustainable systems that meet human needs while promoting ecosystem health and social well-being. Participants in these programs receive ongoing support to develop productive homesteads through our Permaculture Maryland Meetup group that offers opportunities for networking, peer support, and resource sharing.
We plan to offer future workshops to enable students to turn their yards into productive, sustainable gardens while incorporating social and economic cooperation into their plans. Workshops are also periodically available in mushroom cultivation, accessible gardening, forest management, and community building. Check our calendar below for upcoming offerings.
Events and volunteers
Whether you have an interest in a specific project, have a unique skill to offer, or want to better get to know the community, planned visitors are welcome! Heathcote sponsors child-friendly day events and provides volunteer work opportunities. Workdays and tours of the property are scheduled throughout the year. We host traveling researchers and interns by special request, and would be interested in getting to know about your project, wherever you are.
Tasks are available on the demonstration farm, supporting forest and property management, helping residents with on-going needs, and keeping the common spaces fresh and presentable. We also host social events and informal get-togethers.
If anything on the calendar interests you, fill out our contact form and let us know who you are and when you would like to come. We also host overnight guests in the mill.
Becoming a Heathcote member means joining over 100 past and present friends who have lived and supported a more ecologically and socially just future through food and community education, land protection and restoration, and commitment to social diversity. Your membership can play an important role in achieving our collective vision. We welcome applications from individuals, families and groups.
We have two residential houses and a small apartment in the Heathcote Mill, our main community building. Our 44-acre site currently hosts 7 adult and 2 children residents and we have about 30 off-land associate members, with room for more. Visitors seeking membership can participate in weekly plenary meetings, meet other members, and participate in projects on the land, while allowing us to better get to know each other.
The membership entry process requires a written application and functional resume, an interview either in-person or virtually, and a 21-day trial period. Once accepted, a nine-month provisional resident membership leading to full membership or non-resident membership are available. Non-resident member benefits can include community garden space, project participation, and social gatherings.
For more about the calendar of upcoming workshops and events: See our Facebook and Instagram pages linked at the icons at the bottom of the page.
To attend a workshop or event, contact us at email@example.com, or use the contact form below. Someone will get back to you.