Cobb Hill History
Cobb Hill, in Hartland, Vermont, is located in the Upper Valley region of the Connecticut River valley. It was formed through the purchase of two adjoining former dairy farms, the Hunt and Curtis farms, creating a total of 280 acres. The land includes barns and a silo, 15 acres of prime agricultural land, high pastures, a large regenerating forest (including a 1000-maple sugarbush), and a small stream and pond.
Cobb Hill was the vision of Donella (Dana) Meadows, a professor in environmental studies at Dartmouth, coauthor of the 1972 environmental classic The Limits to Growth, and the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant. In 1995, she put out a vision of “an intentional community of people who want to explore the challenge of Right Livelihood—living and making a living in ways that are materially sufficient, socially and ecologically responsible, humanly rewarding, satisfying to the soul….[pursuing] the central values of sustainability, sufficiency, community, equity, service, [and] efficiency.” Through this vision, Cobb Hill was born.
After several years of planning, the land was purchased in 1997. In 2001 we broke ground, and construction was completed in 2003. Of the original two farmhouses, the Curtis house and 2 acres of land have been sold to a member family of our community, with repurchase rights. The Hunt house is home to the Sustainable Food Lab and other land-based non-profit offices.
Although Dana passed away in 2001, her legacy endures as Cobb Hill Cohousing continues to evolve and grow, enlivened by each new individual and family who decides to share in this endeavor. Over the past 15 years, we have worked on being good stewards to the farm and the land by improving the health of the pastures and the forest; adding solar hot water to the homes; removing a structurally unsound silo; adding a barn and replacing the roof on another; fixing the siding and painting many of the outbuildings. We’ve improved our social structures as well. Our decision-making systems have evolved into a committee system that is more efficient yet still takes into consideration the needs of the community and its members. We’ve also organized an enterprise system for the various activities that take place in the community (cheese making, maple syrup, raising sheep, beekeeping, etc.). Cobb Hill is a living system that continues to grow and evolve.