Ryegate Commons

Ryegate Commons Cohousing Community


[Ryegate Commons is no longer active]

Ryegate Commons, Ltd. aims to develop a new model for sustainable rural development that:

  • Preserves working farms
  • Serves an aging population and
  • Creates adaptive strategies for climate change through local food and energy production and affordable, energy efficient housing design.

We will serve the public good through programs that educate and inform the local community and the general public about our activities, including assistance in applying this model in other communities.

We are working to create a small cohousing community in Northeastern Vermont, with up to 30 households sharing ownership of two farms on 315 acres. We anticipate selling development rights on 200 acres, and are working with the Upper Valley Land Trust and the Vermont Housing Conservation Board.  Our model serves as an important new method to preserve existing farms and to enable young farmers and farm families to afford to enter farming.

Our community will be multi-generational and inclusive. We are democratically organized and operate through a modified consensus decision-making process.  Dwellings will be clustered on a relatively small portion of the nonagricultural land, with everyone in the community owning the land and the farm together.  Individual members will own their own residences, and may or may not be actively involved with the farm.
We hope to incorporate one or more on-site renewable energy sources into the project, aimed at achieving net zero energy status and becoming part of the emerging ‘smart grid’ of energy distribution.   We are also developing a comprehensive farm plan, aimed at providing a livelihood for two or more households, food and satisfying work for our members and the surrounding community, and protecting the quality of the land and its eco-community.  We anticipate continuing an organic dairy operation on 62 acres and transitioning the remaining agricultural land to organic fruit and vegetable production.

The project is still in the early stages of development. Currently we have option agreements on both farms.  At least ten households have signed up as potential residents for the community, with a mailing list of over a hundred names.  Our membership includes experienced organic farmers, an international consultant to the organic industry, an attorney, an education professor, a retired USDA employee and a great variety of other talented folks.
The cost of home ownership at Ryegate Commons has not yet been determined.  We are at work formulating the legal and financial structure of the community.  We are incorporated as a non-profit in Vermont, and expect to file for tax-exempt status soon.  We are actively seeking funding for our activities, and the Institute for Social Ecology currently serves as our fiscal sponsor.

For more information, please contact ryegatecommons <at> gmail <dot> com