The Lost Meadow Land Co-op in West Corinth, VT is currently seeking new members. We have functioned as a stable co-op for almost 30 years, but would welcome members sympathetic to our mission and values in order to replace members who are moving on. For us this is a time of transition and renewal, one that could provide an unusual opportunity to like-minded folks. In an age of land destruction and abuse, land co-ops offer a model of healthier land tenure. They provide an opportunity for people to live together on a piece of land, working together to manage that land wisely and sustainably. If this is of interest, read on.
The Co-op owns close to 600 acres of land in an unusually beautiful and protected rural area outside the small village of West Corinth. The land is largely forested but with significant open meadows. There are currently 6 houses on the land, clustered so as to leave the majority of the acreage open--i.e., non-residential. Some of the houses are off the grid; all are accessible via class 3 and 4 town roads. Houses are well-built, attractive, and functional. There are many woodland trails leading to high ridges with impressive views of the Green and White Mountains. The entire property is situated within the Orange County Headwaters Project (which we helped start years ago), comprising close to 50,000 acres of undeveloped land. In terms of land conservation, the area is unique in this part of the State.
The founding principles of a land co-op are as follows: A) Land and housing should be affordable to people of ordinary means. B) Dwellings should be permanent full-time residences, not rental properties, vacation homes, or speculative financial instruments. C) The land as a whole should not be broken up and parceled out as real estate. D) Land should be managed productively and sustainably, through a mixture of forestry and agriculture, to the greatest extent possible. E) Cooperative living and working should underlie all activities on the land. F) Such activities should not only benefit members but also feature an educational component that would serve as a model of responsible land tenure.
The Co-op owns all the land by deed. Members own their own dwellings (either built or purchased). A Ground Lease Agreement (GLA) gives them a site for those dwellings and defines their privileges and obligations with regard to the Co-op. A set of Bylaws sets out the Co-op's governance--how business is conducted, how decisions are arrived at. Decision-making is generally by consensus, but there are provisions for action when consensus cannot be reached. (Copies of both Bylaws and GLA are available to prospective members.)
There is no clearly defined "process" for accepting new members other than getting to know them. Co-op membership is a serious commitment, and the fit has to feel right for both parties. A trial period of a year is desirable unless that requirement is waived for prospects already well-known. Right now there are several houses that could be made available for provisional rental leading to purchase. There is no cost to join the Co-op, other than a commitment to the ongoing fiduciary obligations that membership entails. Diversity of all kinds is an important value to us; we have already moved along that path and will continue to do so. A commitment to peaceful conflict resolution is also fundamental to successful cooperative living. We especially encourage those committed to both these values to apply.
CONTACT: Dan (Barn) Breslaw, [email protected]