About Us – Overview
Heathcote is a 44-acre center on the School of Living land trust, dedicated to education, agroecology, and intention community since 1989.
Anchored by the historic Heathcote Mill, the center serves as a resource for both those who teach and those who learn, honoring traditional as well as newer sources of knowledge. Program initiatives include topics such as bio-intensive agriculture, health and nutrition, and children’s education.
Heathcote cultivates urban-rural linkages and food system support networks through an established garden and education program, promoting food sovereignty and security. Initiatives also advance environmental monitoring, seed saving, caregiver retreats, arts, and accessible gardening through community partnerships.
Heathcote’s mission is to grow, practice, and share.
We value diversity, equity, and inclusion, accessibility, and ongoing improvement for the benefit of the organization, members, partners, and broader communities.
Heathcote members, both resident and non-resident, include various identities, religions, and political viewpoints. The community includes educators, tradespeople, retirees, healthcare professionals, technologists, administrators, and farmers.
Current membership includes five resident adults and more than two dozen non-resident members, many of whom are former residents living in Baltimore County and adjacent areas.
Heathcote aims to develop more inclusive centers to foster a membership base that reflects broader communities with diverse backgrounds and skillsets.
Heathcote evolved from a haven for dispersed School of Living members in the Freeland, Maryland Line area, an initiative by Mildred Loomis.
Initially owned by long-time member, Bill Anacker, Heathcote Center was sold to School of Living with the division of his land. It was later given to Heathcote under a 99-year lease to become the National School of Living Headquarters.
In the 1970’s, Heathcote was devolved into the independent Heathcote Community and Heathcote Education Center, a fiscally sponsored entity of School of Living and School of Living network. Since that time, Heathcote has continued as a community, education center, organic farming demonstration project, and social hub.
Heathcote is located in an upland section of the Piedmont Plateau Province, nestled in a valley formed by differential weathering, channeling our creek through a watershed of dendritic drainage over quartz and mafic schists. This points to Heathcote historically being in a region of high but very localized habitat diversity. Our 44 acres are surrounded by steep ravines, meadow, wetland, creek and forest.
Healthy oak-hickory forest systems in the region may contain white oak, northern red oak, black oak, and chestnut oak. Hickory species include shagbark and pignut hickory. A diversity of trees, shrubs, and herbs may include tulip poplar, red maple, dogwood, red bud, blueberry, mountain laurel, Solomon’s seal, and may apple.
Originally dominated by oak-chestnut, the land has been oak-hickory dominated since the American chestnut was eradicated by blight at the beginning of the 20th century. Additionally, remaining ash trees are threatened with eradication by 2025.
Now located in an agricultural and residential area, the land is mostly dominated by opportunistic forest regrowth endemic with invasive vegetation. While soils were once ideal for tobacco farming, local agriculture is now dominated by pasture and forage.