Our thanks to all the people over many years who have helped to create Knoll Farm.
Your intellect, care, creativity, vision and strong backs have helped to make Knoll Farm. And to the hundreds of supporters and those who have walked this land alongside us:
Repairing roads after a storm, manifesting dreams, mulching berries, cutting wood, asking questions, answering email, writing curriculum, lighting lanterns, raising money, offering retreats, banging nails, shaping cob, harvesting food, designing buildings, guiding, governing, listening, walking, writing, laughing, crying, raising kids, being there, saying hello and saying goodbye:
Today at Knoll Farm
We’ve had two responsibilities at Knoll Farm: to refine our skills at building soil and growing food for others, and to do the same around our commitment to social justice and reciprocity that we express through radical hospitality here at the farm and what grows from that into efforts all over this country. We call this Making Refuge, a life’s work that arises from our values and purpose. Making Refuge is our long-term commitment to a making a healthy homestead, sharing it openly with others to build relationships across difference, and then to nurture the work that blossoms elsewhere as a result.
Every year, we have brought cohorts of people doing important social and environmental change work together at Knoll Farm. For the first 12 years, we focused that intention through the organization we created called Center for Whole Communities, and the offering was focused on cultural change: in bringing together people who care for the earth with people who care for our communities, we hoped to close the gap in understanding between the two. That work helped to nurture a generation of leaders who could bring conservation and social justice together. We helped birth an innovative curriculum based on systems-thinking, inclusion, and working across difference.
There are many ways that the convenings at Knoll Farm have led directly to courageous change-making efforts in places around our country. Our collaboration in land justice in Maine called First Light is a current great example.
The last of those retreats at Knoll Farm occurred in 2015, just as our nation was beginning to understand the gravity of political choices we would face in the presidential election. Dozens of alumni returned that summer to help us build the Water Temple in honor of our departed friend and mentor, Bill Coperthwaite. It was a time of looking back, searching, beginning to build something new. For many reasons, the 2016 presidential election was an inflection point. We were strongly aware of an even more divided nation. What took shape initially was a simple offering of time to our alumni and their colleagues– to remember and restore one’s long work, and take time to pursue individual projects. The concept was not to teach or train, but to support people already on their journey. Out of that intuition was born the Better Selves Fellowship, which is growing stronger each year.
In addition to hosting our Better Selves Fellowship program, Knoll Farm continues to host other groups like the ACLU, Academy for Change, 350.org, National Parks Conservation Association and many other institutions leading the way for change in their respective fields. These trips and retreats at Knoll Farm are valuable learning experiences in their own right, but they also contribute significantly to the over-all financial stability of the farm to be a place of learning and change-making.
At Knoll Farm and throughout the United States, Peter’s life work is about courageous convening of people across differences of race, class and ideology to work on matters of consequence to their shared future. Peter works directly with communities and organizations who aspire to evolve, become more inclusive, diverse, willing and capable of changing themselves, and Peter leads long standing collaborations in different parts of this country to achieve land justice. All of this arises from Peter’s basic artistic instincts as listener and observer. He’s a wood carver, a photographer and the author of 6 books on culture change and the relationship between people and place. Go to his website to learn more about Peter’s writing and facilitation, and to First Light for his work on land justice. You can follow Peter’s photography on Instagram.
Helen divides her time seasonally between organic farming and writing and editing. She manages and runs our farm operation as well as mentors farm staff and helps organize events and retreats for the farm and Refuge. She has also done research and writing on organic farming for NOFA-VT, been part of Vermont’s Farm Viability Program mentoring new farmers, and is co-producer of the film Organic Matters. Helen was a book editor for many years, running an imprint for W. W. Norton. Now she works as Editor-at-Large for Orion Magazine, and is an acquiring and developmental editor for Milkweed Editions. She is currently writing a book about the joys, sorrows and ancient pull of shepherding called Salt Stones.
Kyla is our talented and dedicated Assistant Farm Manager. She has worked and taught on farms since 2004, including an herb farm in Australia and her own farm in Massachusetts. She has worked at the Farm School and the John C. Campbell Folk School as an educator and is also a passionate fiber artist and an animal trainer as well as a mentor and aid to children with special needs.
Lawrence Barriner II
Lawrence is a co-facilitator, advisor and collaborator for the Better Selves Fellowships here at Knoll Farm. He is a Black Queer coach, facilitator, and liberation worker who most values love, justice, community, and transformation. His unpaid work includes visionary fiction, (r)evolutionary uncling, community-focused healing, and creating post-patriarchal futures. He is working toward a world that includes liberation and right relationship for all beings. (Photo by Maureen White)
Lauren Brady (they/their or she/her) is the Program & Development Assistant for New Learning Journey, coordinating the nonprofit work that happens at Knoll Farm and beyond. Passionate about building collective action around food and land systems, they are a plant person, seed saver, debt liberator, and crafter. Before Vermont, she lived in Michigan and Maine.
Eddie is the founder, artistic director and all-around kid guru of Sculpture School, which is based at Knoll Farm. His creative building programs are designed for youth ages 8-16. You can see their creations and learn more by visiting their website.
Savitri is our Business Manager. Full bio coming soon!
Ellie is the program manager who makes all of our work with First Light Learning Journey possible. When not working on First Light, she is pursuing graduate studies around reimagining environmental governance. She is based in coastal Maine, where she loves exploring the intertidal.
A Return to Renewables
We strive toward a self-sustaining, regenerative farm. As part of our ongoing efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and our consumption, we converted to solar electricity and wood heat in 2008. We reduce water and recycle human waste through our composting toilets (when thoroughly processed after 2-3 years in the composter, it goes as soil onto our sheep pastures!).
kilowatts solar power generated (per year)
cords of wood harvested for heat (per year)
pounds of humanure turned into soil
Here is our list of those that inspire us and feel like part of our extended family of people and places doing important work in the world: