Time to read: 2 minutes
Takeaway: Peacehaven’s purpose is to create a place where everyone belongs and adults with special needs can live permanently in a caring and nurturing environment. They don’t sell to the public at this time; last year volunteers raised 1200lbs of produce in raised beds which they donated to local families. They work with numerous community partners, including local universities and colleges.
Peacehaven Farm grows, literally and figuratively, in many ways. Their fleet of volunteers grows vegetables, naturally. Cows, chickens and pigs will grow here, too. But it is the way they grow community that makes them exceptional.
The idea for the farm began with Tom and Susan Elliott and Buck and Cathy Cochran. Initially, the Elliott’s were looking for a place where their special needs son could belong as an adult where he would not only receive care, but a compassionate place where he would continue to grow as a person. Inspired by the L’Arche community model, in 2007, they began the farm on a beautiful 89 acres of land in Whitsett, just a little south of the Red Oak Brewery on I-85/40.
“The response to injustice is to share. The response to despair is a limitless trust and hope. The response to prejudice and hatred is forgiveness. To work for community is to work for humanity. To work for peace is to work for a true political solution; it is to work for the Kingdom of God. It is to work to enable everyone to live and taste the secret joys of the human person united to the eternal.”-Jean Varnier, L’Arche Founder
Buck Cochran, the executive director, showed us the farm on an unusually cold day in April 2014. I tagged along with my friend and fellow Aggie, Amanda, who works at Habitat for Humanity and leads work on the first residential building at the site. Outside of her Habitat duties, she’s also going to incorporate some natural building designs for Peacehaven as part of her training at Yestermorrow. (You should check out her site to learn about her goals.)
At this moment, there are two main physical components of Peacehaven, the residential community and the farm, which aren’t mutually exclusive. Work started last year on Susan’s View, the first residence on the farm. The building’s name honors Susan Elliott, one of the co-founders who passed in 2009. The construction of Susan’s View meets the National Association of of Homebuilders Green Building Standard and the Advanced Energy SystemVision Guarantee. It incorporates solar photovoltaic panels and a solar hot water system. Four permanent residents, a home coordinator and three annual interns will call the residence home when it opens later this year.
The farm itself is mostly gardens of raised beds, but before you think they’re just playing in the dirt, you should know that last year they raised more than 1200 pounds of food. You won’t see them at a farmer’s market or selling from a farmstand—they donated all of it to the community last year. Working with Church World Service, they donated most of the food to refugee families. This year, some of those families will be coming out to the farm to demonstrate their farming techniques. Now that’s a giving circle that grows!
Aside from the residence and the gardens, partnerships with educational institutions fill another valuable niche. Volunteers from NC A&T, Elon, GTCC, CCCC and many other locations donate their time and knowledge. In turn, Peacehaven gives them the opportunity to practice their skills and learn more about their community.
Buck and the community he represents are an inspiration. There are plans for more residents, a full size farm, and possibly even a solar farm that harmonizes with the land. I like to imagine that Peacehaven Community Farm is a place that will be constantly growing, even after the harvest season.
For more information on Peacehaven, visit here: http://www.peacehavenfarm.org/