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 over the past 15 years to make Knoll Farm. And to the hundreds of supporters and thousands of others 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, giving money, leading retreats, organizing 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:
Julian Ageyman, Kyla Allon, Rani Arbo, Cesare Assad, Adrian Ayson, Molly Bagnato, Kayla Barss, Maeve Benz, Diana Blank, Joe Bosson, Marcus Bradley, Adrienne Maree Brown, Aric Brown, Taylor Burt, Drew Burdick, Ali Cashdan, Lisa Cashdan, Bryan Cassidy, Mohamad Chakaki, Roberto Chene, Scott Chaskey, Steph Cesario, Shiren Chen, Bill Coperthwaite, Liezl Cosentino, Ann Day, Skip Dewhirst, Andy DiMario, Marc DiMario, Chris Eaton, Maria Echevarria, Caleb Elder, John Elder, Torri Estrada, Anushka Ferdandapoule, Carolyn Finney, Jesse Maceo Vega Frey, Dylan Funnell, Samara Gaev, Steve Glazer, Ben Gould, Ben Graham, David Grant, Jean Hamilton, Toby Herzlick, Jenny Helm, Olivia Hoblitzelle, Michael Holanbach, Polly Hoppin, Glen Hutchinson, Diane Ives, Pete Jamison, Wendy Johnson, Cynthia Jurs, Stephanie Kaza, Scott Kessel, Hank Lentfer, Will Lintilac, Addie Livingston, Gil Livingston, Anya Maier, Libby McDonald, Megan McGeary, Ginny McGinn, Nicholas McHugo, Kevin McMillion, Eddie Merma, Flo Miller, Kristen Monsell, Anna Nasset, Melissa Nelson, Riley Neuberger, Dan Neumeyer, Coco O’Connor, Danyelle O’Hara, Theo Pappas, Chris Patterson, Kinny Perot, Kevin Peterson, Deva Racusin, Kesha Ram, Kavitha Rao, Cara Robechek, Greg Ryan, Isaac Sacca, Mario Sacca, Dana Saladoff, Scott Russell Sanders, Lauret Savoy, Carson Schoellkopf, Jeff Schoellkopf, Deb Schoenbaum, Hans Schoeppflin, Neha Shukla, Taz Squire, Anayza Stewart, Craig Strachen, Rick Thompson, Kaylyn Sullivan Two Trees, Phillip Ulrich, Anita Virmani, Tom Wessels, Peter Whybrow, Ruth Whybrow, Ashley Woods, Diana Wright, and Mandy Yonkman.
A Rich History on Rich Soil
Our experiment began in 2000 when a friend encouraged us to write up our dream for farming and creating a retreat center as the Vermont Land Trust was looking to sell an unusual place to somebody able to breathe new life into a beautiful old farm. We were in our 30s, eager and with plenty of energy, and we had some great examples to follow: Helen Nearing and Bill Coperthwaite, Dana Meadows and Chuck Mathei. Their lifework had already deeply influenced our own.
The moment we heard about Knoll Farm, our lives connected to Ann Day who with her husband, Frank, and their kids, Alan and Deb, had stewarded the farm for 50 years with a powerful social and environmental consciousness. In the 1980s Ann began traveling to Nicaragua through the American Friends Service Committee and made Knoll Farm a place of refuge for people fleeing the civil war for asylum in Canada. Ann would also honor the nature and people of our valley by being the very first to protect her beloved land through conservation. What’s more, Ann’s uncle was Richard Gregg, the Quaker lawyer who brought Gandhi’s teachings to America, a man we had long admired. We knew we had found our home, and now it was our turn to make Knoll Farm a place of service.
In 2002 our life energy was joined by some of the strongest and most wonderful people we had ever met: the staff, board and faculty of Center for Whole Communities, the leadership organization we founded. Together, we created a safe harbor and a bright fire circle around which we gathered thousands of social change and environmental activists and leaders for a period of 12 years.
Center for Whole Communities’ work eventually moved on from Knoll Farm, but our story of making refuge for others at continues vigorously today.
Our aspirations are guided by a question: What does it mean to work in conservation, farming, and writing and to live out those ideals – wholeness, inclusion, health, resilience and resistance, creativity and courage – on a specific piece of land over a life time?
- To have a vibrant, diverse family farm and learning center that expresses our sense of beauty, equity, community, and self-reliance and that above all is always welcoming and nurturing to all who visit or come to stay.
- For our farming practices to increase the health of the soil long into the future.
- To produce our own energy and to use it carefully.
- To farm with the fewest possible inputs, raising food from sun and water and the vitality of the soil and grass we are building through our practices.
- To provide healthy food for ourselves and others, always improving and learning new land-based skills, and being a place of learning, generosity, integrity, inclusiveness and inspiration for people of all backgrounds and ages.
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
Our Extended Family
Peter Forbes and Helen Whybrow live at Knoll Farm with their two daughters, Willow and Wren.
Peter’s life work is helping divided communities to heal, and helping organizations committed to nature and place to open their work to all people. Peter works directly with communities across the country to have dialogue on matters of consequence to their future, most often about working across differences in culture, power and ideology. Peter also works directly with dozens of organizations in the environmental sector to become more inclusive, diverse, willing and capable of changing themselves. Peter is the author, co-author or photographer of more than 6 books on culture change and the relationship between people and place.
You can learn more about Peter’s work at and beyond Knoll farm at www.peterforbes.org
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 also does research and writing on organic farming for NOFA-VT and co-produced the film Organic Matters. Beyond the farm, she is Editor-at-Large for Orion magazine, and works for many other magazines and publishers as a freelance writer and book editor. The author or editor of several works of nonfiction, she is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Journalism.
Kyla is returning in 2019 as our 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 is also a fiber artist and will be making value added products with our Icelandic wool.
Kayla is one of our Retreat Managers. She recently completed her degree in Wellness and Alternative Medicine and is a Certified Massage Therapist. She enjoys rock climbing and gardening in her free time.
Mandy is our Business Manager. She lives in Fayston with her family and likes to ski, snowboard, run, swim and hike.
Ella is one of our farm hands and assistant retreat managers. She recently finished her undergraduate studies in environmental studies, and enjoys cooking, hiking, and doing pottery in her free time.
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:
By joining our community, you become part of the story of this land.
Be the first to know when the berries are ripe, workshops are scheduled, or leadership fellowships are announced.