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Heathcote Intentional Community


Lawrence F. London, Jr.
Title: Heathcote Intentional Community

Heathcote Intentional Community

Living sustainably ... together.

Table of Contents

  1. Permaculture at Heathcote
  2. Heathcote Conference Center
  3. Visiting Heathcote
  4. Heathcote members
  5. Contacting Heathcote
  6. School of Living

Select a topic or scroll on ...

Heathcote is an intentional community located 30 miles north of Baltimore, MD and 20 miles south of York, PA. It is nestled in a narrow wooded stream valley on a 37 acre community land trust.

The community is run by a board of directors composed of the adult members of the community. Decisions are made through a modified consensus process. We have each made a commitment to deal honestly and forthrightly with one another and to let the good of the community as a whole guide our decisions.

Members currently live in a 150 year old grain mill, a 100 year old farmhouse, and several outbuildings. We plan to build alternative, energy-efficient group houses with individual and family units. We are in the process of renovating the mill to improve our conference center.

We are committed to creating a permaculture demonstration site at Heathcote Community where we can live sustainably in balance with the Earth and guide others on this path. We strive to foster gender balance and a diversity of culture, spirituality and thought. The Heathcote Conference Center helps us to maintain an interconnectedness to the larger society through education and community outreach.

The term "intentional community" means a group of individuals sharing responsibilities and resources. In our case this means caring for the land and buildings at Heathcote, caring for one another, and endeavoring to live sustainably.

Permaculture at Heathcote

We are living on a planet in crisis. The political and economic systems that have given rise to our modern consumer lifestyles have created societies that consume more than they produce. The products and by-products of this consumer culture are destroying the Earth's biosphere and life support systems. During the mid-1970's in response to this growing threat to the world's environment, Bill Mollison, an Australian ecologist, began the development of the principles, philosophy, and methodologies of permaculture or "permanent culture".

Permaculture is the conscious design of "cultivated" ecosystems that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is a harmonious integration of people into the landscape in such a way that the land grows in richness, productivity, and aesthetic beauty.

Permaculture is an ethical design system for creating human environments that are ecologically sound and economically viable. Permaculture systems provide for their own needs, do not exploit or pollute, and are therefore sustainable.

We are committed to re-creating Heathcote as a permaculture demonstration site.

Permaculture education is one of the main purposes of the Heathcote Conference Center. We host a permaculture design course each July and hold weekend workshops. Community members also teach Introduction to Permaculture classes, which are conducted on a donation basis. See the Conference Center Schedule for dates.

Permaculture Demonstration Site

We are working to transform Heathcote into a Permaculture Demonstration Site.

Our organic garden has doubled in size in the past year. We are reclaiming old orchard sites and a vineyard.

From compact fluorescent light bulbs to new heating systems, we are working to make Heathcote more energy efficient. The stream that runs through the valley gives us the potential for micro-hydro, as well as irrigation.

Water catchment systems on buildings near the gardens in combination with water from the stream have eliminated the use of ground water for irrigation. Next step: a catchment system for laundry water.

Of course we compost. We currently have 2 goats and 4 ducks contributing to our soil nutrients as well. We're planning a composting toilet for the future.

Building and Construction Fund

You can help us develop Heathcote as a Permaculture Demonstration site by contributing to this fund. Projects include the construction of a passive solar straw bale community center and the renovation and historic preservation of our 150 year old mill. We also have several buildings that would benefit from retrofitting to become more energy efficient.

Help us do it the right way -- sustainably!

Mail contributions to:
Heathcote Community
21300 Heathcote Rd.
Freeland, MD 21053


Heathcote Conference Center

Participants in your event will enjoy the rural and rustic site, nestled in a wooded stream valley. Located in an historic mill building at Heathcote Community, conference center facilities include: a large group meeting room, bunkroom (tent sites also available), bathrooms, kitchen, and dining area. We offer the option for your participants to learn about intentional community firsthand by sharing some of these facilities with community members.

We specialize in events for non-profit organizations. Our already low rates are discounted even further for non-profits!


Conference Center Schedule

This schedule was last updated on 2/10/97.

Event Date Time
Conflict Resolution WorkshopFeb.16
Introduction to PermacultureFeb. 221-4 PM
Intro to PermacultureMar. 51-4PM
Intro to PermacultureApr. 191-4PM
Intro to PermacultureMay 97-9 PM
Mind, Body, and Spirit: Principles of Permaculture WorkshopMay 10-11
Turning Waste into ResourcesMay 24
Introduction to PermacultureJune 71-4 PM
Permaculture Design CourseJuly 2-27
Intro to PermacultureSept. 267-9PM
Advanced PC Workshop: Sustainable Plant PatterningSept. 27-28


Introduction to Permaculture

Each month this Spring, people who are interested in living more sustainably and in harmony with natural systems will be gathering at the Heathcote Conference Center for a free seminar on permaculture.

We will discuss permaculture principles such as conservation, creating ecosystem stability thru diversity, alternative technologies and economic systems, living in harmony with nature without dependency on nonrenewable resources. We’ll also take a brief look at the various natural systems that support our existence and how to live in a way that contributes positively to them.

Classes are taught by Heathcote community members who are certified Permaculture Design apprentices.

Dates: 2/22, 3/15, 4/19, 5/9, 6/7, 9/26
Cost: Free (donation basis)
Please register in advance (410) 343-DIRT


A Third Approach to Conflict: Solving Problems Interactively

Conflict happens in life. One response is to avoid., another is to fight. Most of us do one or both most of the time. The third choice is to approach conflict as an opportunity to learn more about the problem, oneself, and other people, relating to what is wanted by everyone and helping everyone get what they want as much as possible.

This workshop is about self-empowerment, effectiveness, assertiveness, empathy, and being willing to re-think the beliefs that fuel self-defeating and destructive responses to problems. The purpose of the workshop is to emphasize the necessity of relating to what is wanted by everyone involved in problem-solving by listening, checking out assumptions, and being willing to change one's mind.

Our guide will be Leslie Greenwood, who has lived in 3 different communities over the past 17 years. She is avidly interested in exploring and improving the way people in groups work through problems together.

Date: Sunday, Feb. 16, 9AM-4PM
Cost: sliding scale $10-$50, bring a bag lunch
Please register in advance (410) 343-DIRT


Mind, Body, and Spirit: Principles of Permaculture Workshop

Explore new ways of unifying your approach to sustainability with Dawn Shiner, experienced permaculture guide.

This workshop will take a holistic approach to sustainability. We will focus on the interrelationships among the different components of natural systems and our personal connections to them.

There are no pre-requisites or requirements; we will be getting back to basics in this workshop.

Saturday, May 10 and until noon on Sunday, May 11
You can also attend the Introduction to Permaculture on the evening of 5/9
Please bring a bag lunch and a dish to share for a potluck dinner on Saturday.

Please register in advance (410) 343-DIRT


Turning Waste into Resources

Did you know that the bulk of what goes into the 5,000 landfills across the U.S. is organic matter?

We're talking plant and animal refuse from peoples' kitchens and yards, plus sewage sludge from septic systems and waste-water treatment plants. Current processing methods squander precious non-renewable energy resources and cause contamination of our water and land. Most of this organic matter could be cycled back into the food production system using low-energy, low-technology, and low-cost methods, transforming a so-called 'toxic waste' into a valuable, life-giving resource.

Come learn about organic garden composting, vermi-culture (worm composting -- perfect for urban dwellers), and humanure systems that keep the food production cycle intact.

Date: May 24, 9AM to 4 PM
Call (410) 343-DIRT to register.


Permaculture Design Course

The Permaculture Design course at Heathcote offers an immersive experience in community living and permaculture design. Participants in the class will gain hands-on experience with designing sustainable systems. Course graduates will be certified design apprentices, eligible for applied design diplomas after 2 years of experience.

Course content:

Instructors: Dawn Shiner and Frank Hyldahl are back for their third year of teaching the design course at Heathcote. Dawn has been a permaculture designer and teacher since 1987. Both come to us from dancing green, a non-profit organization founded to educate and demonstrate permaculture.

Accomodations in the conference center bunkroom or your own tent and vegetarian meals are included in the cost of the course. Childcare for children 5 or older can be arranged for a modest additional fee.

The course will take place from the 12th thru 27th of July.
Limited work exchange and tuition assistance are available.
Call (410) 343-DIRT for registration or further information.


Advanced PC Workshop: Sustainable Plant Patterning

Call (410) 343-DIRT for registration or further information.



Community Workdays and Musical Potlucks

Community Workdays provide an opportunity to interact with community members, get a taste of life in an intentional commity and help HC with ongoing projects.

Musical Potlucks involve a potluck dinner followed by a sing-along. Bring your instruments, your voices, and your enthusiasm! Call (410) 343-3478 for times.

Event Date
Community Workday and Musical PotluckFeb. 8
Community Workday and Musical PotluckMar. 8
Community WorkdayMar. 16
Community Workday and Musical PotluckApr. 12
Community WorkdayApr. 20
Community Workday and Musical PotluckMay 10
Community WorkdayMay 18
Community Workday and Musical PotluckJune 14
Community WorkdayJune 22


Visiting Heathcote

We enjoy having people visit our community. Some people visit with the intention of participating in our community life and talking with community members, often because they are interested in applying for membership. Others simply want a place to stay overnight on their travels or to spend some time alone resting and relaxing in the country. Please be clear with us about your reason for visiting and what you hope to accomplish on your visit.

Because we are such an active group it may be difficult to schedule your visit for a time when we are all together. However, we can usually arrange to have at least several community members available to spend time with you.

We have found that the best way for people to get a taste of our community life is to join us for a community work day. This works well because most of us are here and we are able to talk and share while working together.

We ask our visitors to contribute $10 per person per night for lodging and $5 per person per day for food. Work exchange is available for lodging at the rate of 2 hours per day. All fees are waived for guests who participate in a community work day. Our diet is vegetarian (ovo-lacto) with some fish. Pets can visit on a case by case basis with prior discussion and approval by the community. Guests usually stay in the Cenference Center or bring their own tent for camping.

Heathcote is a beautiful, peaceful place to visit. There are lots of woods for hiking, a hammock for resting, a stream for wading, and many secluded areas where you can be alone to connect with nature.


Heathcote members

Heathcote has been home to many people over the past 30 years. Though the members have changed as people moved along their paths, the spirit of the place remains one of conscious living with the earth.

We are a community of friends and family who choose to live cooperatively and consciously create a better way of life. We strive to care for one another and for the natural systems that nurture us.

We currently have 9 adult and 4 child members (ages 6, 8, 10, and 12), two dogs, and four cats.

We earn money doing things such as construction, graduate school, early childhood education, environmental consultation, statistical consultation, environmental regulation, and engineering. Our members' interests include music, permaculture, yoga, organic gardening, biking, kayaking, meditation, ritual, personal healing, political activism, co-counseling, hiking, and women's & men's groups. Heathcote Conference Center hosts events on many of these topics.

Some of us own our own businesses and many of us would like to eventually spend most of our time working on the land. We each make a monthly contribution to cover community expenses and food. We also earn money for the community with our conference center business.

Most of us lead busy lives and are involved in activities outside the community. As a community, we eat dinner together most nights, have weekly community meetings, participate in weekly "process" meetings that deal with interpersonal relationships and emotions, and do community work projects on the weekends several days each month.


New members wanted

This is an exciting time of growth and change for our community. We have gained a number of new members within the past two years and are reformulating our community vision and policies. We would like our community to grow and are accepting applications for membership. Our membership categories include full members, non-residential members and "friends of community" for those who would like to participate but are unable to make a full-time commitment.

We welcome people of all ages, races, genders, religious preferences, and sexual orientations. We'd like to hear from those who are interested in transforming society and creating a peaceful future with Earth.

Below is a wishlist that we came up with during a recent community workday.

First, we want someone who has a strong desire to be part of a community, inlcuding personal relationships, community meals, and other community work and play. They should be committed to group process and to working cooperatively with others. It would be great if they were interested in sustainable living, developing a permaculture demonstration site, and/or building alternative structures.

We would like new members to have a contribution to make to community. Some of the skills we could benefit from include: construction, gardening, accounting, fundraising, legal skills, political activism, healing, and group dynamics. Stable income and a reliable vehicle are helpful.

We appreciate diversity; several folks mentioned minorities, gay-bi-straight, and families with children. We definitely want people who have a positive outlook and are nurturing, kind, compassionate, and loving toward people of all ages and descrip-tions. Stability and maturity will help the prospective member to adjust successfully, as will a sense of humor. We would prefer people who have done some work on themselves (particularly re: communication and conflict resolution skills) and who are committed to their spiritual path, whatever that might be. Additional personal characteristics that would be appreciated include: honesty, reliability and playfulness.

Please don't be put off if you or your friends don't match every item on our wish list. We don't either! We think Heathcote is a great place to live and grow. If you fit some of our wish list and would like to explore how well we fit yours, please give us a call at (410) 343-DIRT.

Membership process

The following requirements are to be completed in the order specified.

  1. Application.
  2. Initial screening.
  3. Extended visit (minimum 21 days spent participating in community life, at least 7 days consecutively).
  4. Provisional membership meeting and decision.
  5. Provisional membership (7 months).
  6. Full membership meeting and decision.
  7. Full membership (sign full membership contract and assume full membership responsibilities).

Note: If you would like your visit days to count as part of the extended visit requirement, please send us your application before you visit.


  1. Name, address, telephone, members of family, companion animals
  2. Why do you want to become a member of Heathcote?
  3. What is your experience/background living with groups?
    What did you like about it?
    What conflicts or problems did you experience or observe?
  4. How do you support yourself and what are your issues around work and money?
  5. What are your hobbies and interests?
  6. Describe how commmunity relates to your spiritual path.
  7. What is your experience with children?
    What is important to you about interacting with children?
  8. What are your health concerns or special needs?
  9. Is your diet compatible with ours? Our community is vegetarian (ovo-lacto) with some fish. Do you have any special dietary needs?
  10. Please describe your current relationship.


Contacting Heathcote

You can contact us via e-mail at the following address:

Our postal address is:
Heathcote Community
21300 Heathcote Rd.
Freeland, MD 21053

Our phone number is:
(410) 343-3112


School of Living

Our land is held in trust by the School of Living (SoL). SoL is also the trustee for other communities in the PA-MD-VA region. SoL was formed in 1934 by Ralph Borsodi to help others acheive a more fulfilling and self-sufficient life. The School of Living does work in many areas, including:

The School of Living publishes a quarterly journal called The Green Revolution. For more information, contact: School of Living, RD1, Box 185A, Cochranville, PA 19330


Copyright © 1997 Linda Felch, Heathcote Community. All Rights reserved.

The address for this page is: http://www.welch.jhu.edu/~lfelch/heathcote.html

Link to Fellowship of Intentional Communities website