Thank you for your interest in Stowe Farm Community. The purpose of this document is to help orient you briefly to the benefits and responsibilities of living in cohousing. Some of the experiences of living in a neighborhood or a condominium or other shared living situations are applicable to cohousing. But cohousing adds specific organizing principles, goals and characteristics that are designed to enhance the community aspects of living together similar to a small village or a group of extended family members.
Stowe Farm cohousing includes private homes clustered around shared space. Shared outdoor space includes open space, hiking trails, fields suitable for orchards or farm animals, and arable land for growing food. Neighbors share resources such as a truck, greenhouse and a tractor. Households have independent incomes and private lives, but neighbors collaboratively plan and manage community activities and shared spaces. Community activities feature regularly-scheduled shared meals, meetings, and workdays. Neighbors gather for parties, games, movies, or other events. Cohousing makes it easy to form clubs centered on activities of common interest such as raising farm animals or making cheese, and may organize child care or carpool.
There are over 160 functioning cohousing communities in the US with 125 in some stage of formation. In Europe where cohousing originated there are hundreds of communities. The Netherlands alone has over 300 functioning communities. Interest in cohousing worldwide has surged in recent years, a trend driven by baby boomers seeking a downsized, community-oriented and environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Cohousing is also gaining traction among millennials as they search for a better way to raise their children.
People are choosing cohousing for many reasons but we have found, without overly generalizing, that people who became members of Stowe Farm wanted to be better heard and understood and were looking for a place to live that strives for cooperation and support. And all of us have felt the benefits from meaningful daily social interactions and connections that have been proven to improve happiness, health and increased longevity. Why not deliberately live in communities that are safer, friendlier, and healthier?
Some of the common characteristics that Stowe Farm shares with other cohousing communities include,
- Neighbors commit to being part of a community for everyone’s mutual benefit
- We cultivate a culture of sharing and caring
- The proximity of houses on less than 1 acre lots promotes frequent interactions and close relationships much as it would in a small village
- Decision making and governance encourages consensus when possible
As a prospective buyer at Stowe Farm you will have certain community responsibilities including
- Participation in meetings of our governing body, in which all households are encouraged to attend
- Participation in committees and work parties that carry out most of the operational needs of the community including grounds maintenance, planning and design of future capital projects etc.
- Striving (and sometimes struggling) to learn to live in community including a willingness to compromise, respect for others, care for other people’s feelings, speaking out when something doesn’t feel right, and being quiet when you need to listen
- Exhibiting deep curiosity about other people’s opinions, especially when they differ from your own
While Stowe Farm’s legal structure is a Homeowners Association (HOA) it is important to keep in mind that it is cohousing with all of its corresponding attributes and responsibilities. We have found that potential buyers benefit from familiarizing themselves with our bylaws and governance process, and our values including a focus on farming and sustainable, energy efficient living. And, most importantly meeting with other community members to see if you would feel comfortable living here.
We look forward to meeting you and hope you will accept an invitation to a potluck and other informal social gatherings to get to know us. Just a few examples of how other prospective buyers (and current members) sought to familiarize themselves with Stowe Farm include working in small groups to weed the garden while chatting and learning about life here, accepting an invitation to dinner with one of our member families, attending a holiday party or community celebration, bringing their families to explore the woods and trails, or camping out on the property.
We have a wonderful, warm and welcoming community that has experienced both good times and hard times together. We believe it is the best possible environment to raise children and to grow old. We love living here and hope that you will too.