At the head of a hidden valley, embraced by forest, in a small farming community on Lake Champlain, lies The Stone Spirit Farm (SSF). With beautiful pastures and hay lands, this retreat has re-established the old time experiences of successful grassland farming and sustainable living.
500 acres of magnificent Vermont farmland and forest constitute the central features of this elegant valley with southern exposure and hilltop protection from winter winds. Dedicated to ecological gardening, raising grass fed cattle and hay farming, we participate in the Vermont Land Trust Program to assure the farm’s preservation. Our work is integrated into the overall efforts of The Learning Collaborative’s educational contributions in the fields of eco-agriculture, sustainable living, and the influence of aesthetics on the development of human values. Read more…
The newly opened Learning Collaborative programs at the Stone Spirit Farm Learning Center offer opportunities for life long learners to participate in a vast variety of courses and learning adventures that expand the quality of life and contribute to improvement of society. The Center provides courses and workshops in environmental aesthetics, nature based healing processes, integrative healing and wellness modalities, and a wide variety of agriculturally-based learning processes that foster the informed pastoral life. These include standard horticulture practices, permaculture, hugelkultur, small scale vegetable production growing, small animal production, design projects, shelter construction and practical life skills. It also offers farm stays, farm shares, homesteading skills, and culturally based programs including music, writing and painting. All pertain to human development as it is associated with environmentally and eco-agriculturally grounded ideas and ideologies. TLC’s center also facilitates an Eco-Psychology program with Viridis Graduate Institute which forwards the more academic aspects of its programs. This unique combination of eco-agriculture and education allows TLC to offer workshops tailor-made for learners who have broad and deep interests, and helps to promote in-depth learning for those interested in specializing in select areas of eco-agriculture, sustainability, personal transformation, and arts and aesthetics as transformational foundations. Programs are open to all lifelong learners, including all residents of Vermont, the New England States and New York, and also attract unique learners from across the United States and Canada, and other English speaking countries. Support is available for those in need.
It’s tough for America’s small farmer to be financially successful. They are confronted by the power and resources of corporate farms that control everything from the design of seeds to the distribution of food. So, small-scale farmers must solve their financial puzzles by diversifying crops and catering to local communities by providing real food. They must find customers who want higher quality food without contaminants or genetic manipulation, and who are willing to pay the real cost for real food. What’s more, small farms are well-served by helping re-educate the public as to what real food means.
The Stone Spirit Farm is an integrated eco-farming, educational center, that calls on artful living and the aesthetics of nature as its sources. Promoting a diversified solution to sustainable food production, it provides educational opportunities to those who wish to learn self-sufficiency from an aesthetic perspective. The community of Stone Spirit Farm dedicates its life’s work to learning; learning eco-agriculture, principles of sustainability, aesthetic influences on a whole life, animal husbandry, garden farming, life skills, the art of spiritual life and more. Read more…
The SSF is the Vermont home of The Learning Collaborative, a not for profit educational learning center, now in its 25th year of providing unique opportunities for lifelong learners. SSF arose from the traditional farming practices of William G Stone, VMD, a 50-year practitioner of large animal veterinary sciences, and a sustainable-lands advocate. This unique working farm and learning center is about nature and its importance to humans and humanity, about ecological sustainability and best farming practices, about arts and aesthetics in nature and in a wholesome and healthy life, about a sense of wellbeing and peacefulness, and about the spirit of gratitude for the earth’s gifts. SSF and The Learning Collaborative strive to address the economic and social crises looming on the horizon. Our point of view is practical and pastoral. This is the opening year of the programs.
Why a Farmstay Holiday?
Holiday on a farm?
Yes, it’s great fun to wander the fields, see flowers that grow naturally, not planted by anyone but the forces above. Wander streambanks, unattended by gardeners, as they pool where fish and aquatic life balance their populations. Observe domestic and wild animal life and study its impact on the land. And talk with farmers. Read more…
SSF manages a small herd of grass fed Angus cattle, with a few Scottish Highlanders for aesthetic color… with no GMOs, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, no disruptive plowing, and no slight of hand to claim purity that does not exist. We maintain a cycle of nutrients as central to maintaining soil health; thus, all manure is kept on site and even animal carcasses are composted. Winter feeding provides access to open pastures as well as a constant supply of hay, ensuring a near-as-natural living environment.
We believe that untainted animal protein is central to human health; we raise our cattle to assure lowest possible fat and cholesterol levels. Our animals feed on our own summer grass and hay, and drink only spring water. Pasture fed, they are never pen constrained. They are humanely raised and certified pasture grass-fed. This natural process extends the time needed to bring the beef to market by more than 35%…but we know quality is worth it!
SSF beef is prepared by a local, old style, butchery and charcuterie (USDA approved). Our product is provided to informed individuals who value quality and healthful foods. Even other farmers use our beef! We have also made a proprietary product from our beef …the famous Vermont Steak Dogs. These are beef frankfurters made with naught but the entire steer. That’s right… every steak, every rib roast, every prime cut is used in our aptly named Vermont Steak Dogs.
Sustainable farming, healthy attitudes, and the cultural aspects of life go hand in hand in a world where humanity is paramount. SSF is home to a variety of cultural events, workshops for personal development, and real life experiences of “ head, heart, hand and health”… all related to eco-agriculture, sustainability and a meaningful life.
SSF is all about learning… learning about the myriad aspects of life in farming, about balancing a productive life in the safety and confidence born of sustainable food production, about gaining specific skills and developing aesthetic sensibilities that accompany peace and understanding in a chaotic world. Here you can acquire farm skills including animal tending, gardening, creating structures small structures, and more. Hand skills are crucial to successful life on the farm, so guests are invited to participate in all projects. Among the 30 workshops that are given intermittently during the year, you will find interesting mini courses on the following topics: permaculture, Hugelkultur and gardening, sustainability and homesteading, raising chickens and rabbits, practical life skills, and do it yourself design projects. Long term projects include building a tiny house or short-term shelter (no prior experience needed), hand-tool skills, mushroom production, and other unique projects that require long term commitment. SSF welcomes parents with young children to participate in programs on a short term basis, but also accommodates long term relationships for those parent/child teams that wish to learn the foundations of more self-sufficient life, even in a non-farming community.
On the lighter side…
Picnics, barbeques and roasts are frequent events bringing a special sense of community where young people engage in field sports and the “more mature” sit under the tree with a cold drink talking big, telling lies, and sharing stories of life experiences. Campfires and storytelling are an evening treat. Evening seminars in the farm’s library, take the place of television and clubbing. Some Saturday nights feature real rodeos with one main ring and a series of unusual events. Most patrons are farmers and cattlemen so there are good chances to meet and mingle with country folk. This rodeo, just a 20-minute drive, is accessed by car up a long dirt road. It’s available only to those who can find their way; and that’s an adventure in itself !
SSF is the perfect place to hold a retreat for those who wish to avoid “corporate.” Intimate retreats with dialogue specialists available, and weddings of the “heart’s variety” are arranged with care.
Your choice: Main house, farmhouse across the field, the bunk house, endearing cottage, isolated cabin in the woods, platform tent camping, or commando camping.
Running water, comfortable beds, great people, wholesome food, long walks on country roads, and more constitute an actual holiday for those who prefer a world that is not made of plastic or occupied by electronic noise. A great place for kids to learn that there is another road to life.
Web Site by Esper Media
Photos by Maureen Edwards