[Sept. 6 update]
Sadly, our (awesome) tenant farmers are moving to another farming co-op closer to where they live, but happily, land will be freed up for next season (2019), so a market farmer who wants to live and farm here has an opening to join the community.
Ultimately, we hope the market farmers would live here and be part of the community. But other options are available. Farmers could:
- lease some or all of the 3 1/2 acres already cultivated,
- lease to own (as described below),
- live here or commute,
- grow annual vegetables or herbs, raise animals, or develop a food forest/perennial crops.
Listening Tree Cooperative, is an intentional community in Chepachet, Rhode Island, living in a shared household and growing much of our own food, but with extra farmland and forest beyond what we need for our own homestead. Formed in 2015, the community occupies 33 acres of field and woodland, one main house and several winterized cabins. We are located about 22 miles on a RIPTA bus line from Providence, RI, and 30 minutes driving from Worcester, MA.
The co-op’s owner-members will own the land and structures by each purchasing a $42,000 share of the cooperative, with designated acreage for farm businesses owned and run by individual members or partnerships. Like a mortgage, the $42,000 share may be paid over years, with a $5000 down payment. Member-residents (renters or people who are in the 6-month trial period to buy in) pay rent and live together with owner-members and seasonal volunteers. Besides the share purchase, member-owners also pay monthly fees, like condo fees, that split the costs of owning and maintaining property, such as taxes, insurance, maintenance, and improvements. Purchasing a farming share would give a farmer the secure right to farm the land as a private business without having to purchase the land itself.
Listening Tree Co-op strives to live sustainably/regeneratively, using the principles of permaculture and equality. Daily life at Listening Tree includes shared dinners and community work hours in the household, garden, woods, and/or food forest. Members might be found building out the farm infrastructure; pasturing chickens; hosting workshops; conversing around the fire pit; or taking care of the barn cat, Sir Toupee George.
Co-op members enjoy working on personal projects like a medicinal herb garden, a small commercial worm composting project, and market farming. Other land-based cottage industries are welcome. Most residents have jobs outside of the community as well. Currently, the cooperative is made up of 3 owner-members and 2 resident-members, and is structured to house 10 members.
What we are looking for:
We would most prefer resident farmer(s) who will live at the community and farm some of the cleared acreage. Farmers will have the opportunity to become owner-members of Listening Tree Co-op if they so desire. Otherwise, the farmer will be a resident-member. In either case, the farmer will have the freedom to run their farm business as a private enterprise. Listening Tree Co-op will not play any role in the work or business aspects of the farm, other than to ensure it complies with the written agreements on facilities/tool sharing, insurance requirements, and organic methods or an agreed-upon equivalent.
One way to look at this is as a “rent to own” situation. The new farmer would not buy-in to the co-op the first season, but if all goes well for everyone, owner-membership would be an option the second season.
Housing is available either in a small insulated cabin with electricity, internet, heat, and an outhouse; or in a bedroom in the main house where the bathrooms and kitchen are located. All members share the main house kitchen, bathrooms, living spaces, basement, etc.
The available farm fields are up to 3½ acres. Soil tests dating back 3 years are available. Approximately 2 of the 3½ acres have been used as a biointensive no-till organic vegetable farm for 3 years, and the other 1.5 acres have been used in conventional tillage organic vegetable farming.
The farmer will have access to:
- irrigation from an on-field hydrant, supplied by a rain-fed irrigation pond with pump;
- a 27HP Kubota tractor with bucket, York rake, moldboard plow, grader, deck mower, post hole digger, and harrow;
- large storage shed;
- gravel road to the field;
- electricity at the field;
- wash station with stainless steel sinks and well water;
- workshop with woodworking tools;
- garage bay;
- barn attic with hayloft doors;
- basement storage;
- 8×12 walk-in cooler;
- hoops for hoop houses;
- worm castings;
- leaves from the town transfer station for mulch and compost.
These resources are managed by community members and farmers, according to consensus-developed written agreements. Tractor maintenance is shared on a tracked schedule.
We are currently seeking 5 new members. Not all need to be market farmers. Come meet us! We’ll be having open house/potlucks and tours Sept. 29 and Oct 6 at 4 pm. Or come earlier by appointment.
Please contact us if you are interested at (401)710-9784.
Additional information about the community can be found on this website and at www.ic.org/directory/listening-tree-cooperative.