Applications currently being accepted for January 2011.
Winter semester is January 4, 2011 – March 31, 2011.
The visionaries and founders of The Stone Soup Institute recognize that, in our fast-paced industrialized culture, a great many relationships have been sacrificed in the name of speed and efficiency. The relationships which have been forgotten include oui connections to Earth's cycles and to each other. These social and enviromrientallinks are at the heart of what we are as human beings.
Our curriculum at The Stone Soup Institute is designed to reacquaint students with the seasonal flow and cycles of sustainable agriculture over an eleven-month school year. The hands-on, student directed, interdisciplinary curriculum coincides with the four seasons. Our primary areas of study are in Animal Husbandry, Building, Fiber and Textiles, Gardening and Crops, Marketing and Accounting, and SilviculturelForestryManagement. We will focus on the need for knowledge inthe above areas of study as our year unfolds in the four environments of field and forest, barn, household and workshop. Educated decisions require education in these farming arts.
Beginning in the winter, a traditional time of dreaming and planning, silviculture classes will begin to tour wood lots - ones that have been highly maintained, and others, sorely neglected over a number of years. Through vigorous dialogue and group process, planning, cutting, hauling and sorting of lumber will be carried out with the use of draft horses. Our task: will be to process and prepare the wood needed to construct the various structures and buildings that the students and faculty have agreed upon. This will be an intense experience as students get to know each other and faculty and begin to learn to use a team in the woods and to choose appropriate timber with an educated eye.
The Forest Management and silviculture portion of the curriculum is wedded to the building curriculum. Stone Soup's building segment will range from conventional framing, stone and brick structures and explore more nontraditional methods such as straw bale and cord wood construction. Buildings will be planned and actualized through research, discussion, and drawing, with the prevailing idea to improve facilities at the school, our "learning lab." We will break ground for the foundation of these building projects in the spring, and with the long days and pleasant temperatureS of the Maine summer, and finish as fall descends.
Animal husbandry begins on day one of the curriculum with feeding and general care of the horses. Traits of various animal breeds (sheep, goats, chickens, etc.) will be discussed with emphasis to their appropriateness to the small farm venue. Final selection of animals will be a reconciliation of student wishes with the needs of the larger community. Field trips will be taken to different farms to buy livestock and, throughout the spring season, proper pastures and shelters will be implemented and built. Summer will be a time of growth for the animals and stewardship for the students. In the fall, we select breeding stock from the flocks, those we will house and care for throughout the winter, and those chosen for butchering and storing will be designated. We will learn to harvest in a humane and clean manner (for students and animals alike). Animal husbandry will be instructed with sensitivity to individual students. Vegetarians will not be required to participate in raising animals for food or butchering, but will be required to raise sheep for wool.
Gardening and crops instruction will encompass eligible crops, crop rotation, and calculating large varieties and yield amounts of crops to provide sustainable portions for student body and livestock. Planning vegetable, spice, and flowers gardens will also be the work of winter. At the time of returning light, students get to transform their winter plans into realities. Spring arrives in Maine when the sap begins to run and the maple sugaring begins. The earth will be plowed, the gardens planted, hay fields will be fertilized, and with warming temperatures, building progress will ignite, from timber framing to pasture fences and foundation to ridge-pole.
There is an old saying in Maine, "If you can't stand the winter, you don't deserve the summer." Without hesitation, Maine summers bring long days, the alluring fragrance of the sea, and a time of great abundance. Fields will need haying, the gardens will need tending, and building projects will hold in store a great deal of fun and hard work. There will be a satisfying balance between work and relaxation.
Traditionally, fall is a time of turning inward and a time of gratitude for all that the summer provided. As things begin to get quiet again, it will be time to harvest the late growing crops, prepare the winter stores and fill the larder. Canning fruits, seed selection, and the threshing and storing of grain for the livestock will prevail. The gardens will be put to rest and the chilly nights will set us all to the task of putting up firewood.
Community living is at the center of Stone Soup Institute; our community includes students, faculty, our neighbors, our livestock, and the natural world, which holds us in its wondrous thrall. Many tasks must be accomplished in cooperation: meal preparation, cleaning up, feeding animals, and harvesting vegetables will be required of all participants on a rotational basis and will be divided respectfully. The year will flow naturally from season to season, our work will grow from idea to fruit, and we will reenter winter with a rich storehouse of knowledge and experience.
The simplicity and thoughtfulness of The Stone Soup experience is just that. We have gone full circle; students have learned how to build different style homes, feed and tend their animals, feed themselves, stay warm, plan, create, problem solve and manage their own farming businesses! They have spent a year on the coast of Maine deeply immersed with attentive instructors and a diverse group of fellow students. There is no doubt that this is a transformational and longstanding educational endeavor.
We at Stone Soup Institute are grateful for your interest and support.