WHO WE ARE
Located in Hardwick, Vermont, on a 150 acre farm, Heartbeet is a licensed Therapeutic Community Residence recognised by the State of Vermont and has recently been incorporated into the Camphill Association of communities,where everyone, regardless of ability, can find meaning, dignity, and delight in life. Long-term volunteers, adults with special needs, and volunteers who come for a year of service work, learn and play together, celebrating the myriad joys and challenges of life. In Vermont the land is full of rolling mountains and hidden valleys; towns are small and people have to make an effort to reach out to each other. People care about their neighbors and are willing to stand up for what they think is right (we still haveTown Meetings). From its inception Heartbeet has fit right in and is committed to building relationships and cultivating all that is best in the small-town community way of life. Driving up our steep hill, the road opens onto a beautiful view of fields and forest, swim pond and red barn, and three lovely homes. You get the feeling that you have arrived in a place alive with the wonder and joy of the earth and human relationships.
The work we do at Heartbeet is based on a spiritual understanding of the human being, the earth, and the universe. Anthroposophy (literally "the wisdom of the human being") was conceived by Dr. Rudolf Steiner of Austria in the early decades of the 20th century. Anthroposophy has inspired innovations in many areas of life, and has given rise not only to Camphill communities, but to Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, and new forms of medicine, therapies and the arts. All share a common dream of social, cultural and economic renewal. Our foundation in anthroposophy manifests itself in the recognition that each human being comprises a body, soul, and spirit, and we believe each of these aspects has the capacity to grow, develop and learn. We recognize that each person is on an inner journey, and we can actively support each other by the ways we live, learn, and work together.
Hannah Schwartz and Jonathan Gilbert, the founders of Heartbeet, met in Camphill Village Kimberton Hills, where Hannah was born and raised, and where Jonathan was continuing his education about biodynamic agriculture. He had been introduced to anthroposophy through a program in Canada and, deeply touched by this philosophy, had gone on to a biodynamic farming and lifesharing community in Quebec. Hannah had studied social therapy and anthroposophy at the Camphill Village in Copake, NY. They married and came to Vermont to enable Hannah to finish her college degree at Goddard College.
Through life and the development of many personal connections to adults with special needs, it became clear to Hannah and Jonathan that a community model in Vermont was complementary to what the state had to offer. Through the magic of destiny, they found and moved to the old town farm for Hardwick, known originally as “the poor farm,” where outcast people could find work and lodging.
From the very beginning, Heartbeet felt to both Jonathan and Hannah like a project they were discovering rather than creating. Within the first two years it had outgrown the farmhouse. Every room was full, the office was squished into a bedroom, and a loft had to be added. Camphill Special School blessed Heartbeet every year with their summer camp visits in tents.
Jonathan and his farm crew worked endlessly to wake up a farm organism that had been left for over 15 years. Permanent fencing, biodynamic preparations, logging, compost piles, our first cow given to us by Copake, sheep, goats, chickens and pigs joined us to make chores a natural rhythm in our days.
The town of Hardwick had already established many supportive elements that allowed for a very harmonious experience with the local community. Heartbeet participates in the local art program in town, cooks a free community meal and has members of the community working at the local coop.
In 2005 a very special constellation of individuals came together, enabling Heartbeet to expand. In 2006 Kaspar House was built. Karl Konig House became the third home in 2008 and welcomed Seneca Gonzalez and Eric Tidblom with their two sons Wilde and Kai. In 2011 Andy and Sara Hatch moved into White Pine as Rachel began her new life with her husband Raphael in CT and along with Zach, Jemma and August the Hatches became our newest householders. New special friends blessed the community with enthusiasm and purpose, their progress is a continuing source of inspiration.
A true sense of exchange and community has evolved with the new houses and constellations, a proper office space, and a fiber-arts workshop. We are now a thirty-five member community, and 2013 will bring to birth the fourth house as we begin the Capital Campaign for our much needed Community Center.
Northern Rivers Land Trust and Heartbeet teamed together in 2011 to establish a conservation easement on 75 acres of Heartbeet's property. The Green Mountain Fund, a donor advised fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, financed the stewardship fee. Find our more about Northern Rivers Land Trust and land conservatoin in our communities by visiting the Land Trust Website at http://www.northernriverslandtrust.org/