At a time when housing options in The Valley are few and far between, there’s an alternative to typical individual homes: co-housing. Living Tree Alliance in Moretown is an intentional cohousing village whose website calls it a “modern kibbutz-inspired community and place-based education center” (A kibbutz is an intentional community based on agriculture.). At Living Tree, five households sit on 1/5-acre lots on a 93-acre property. The housing is clustered together and the five families living on the property grow food together and regularly share meals. They have meetings every other week to discuss and collaborate on projects. They gather and celebrate Earth-based Jewish traditions such as Shabbat on Friday nights, while their tent is open to all spiritual paths. They host community events regularly that invite guests to join for celebrations, tours, work days and educational programs, as well as host farm field trips for the local school district.
“We’re looking for someone who wants to raise a young family interested in homesteading and growing organic food amongst community and participating in supporting the community programs offered,” said Sephirah Oshkello, Living Tree president and executive director. Residents share a 1/2-acre garden. “Residents share in growing the food. The garden plan shifts based on the goals of the growing season. The food currently is grown for community events, field trips, camps, residents, and the local food pantry. They also host community workdays and school field trips (Living Tree is within walking distance of Harwood), where students and community members participate in growing food, learning about the benefits of regenerative agriculture on the environment with experiential education. They run educational programs and farm field trips and camps. Living Tree regularly donates produce to the Mad River Valley Community Pantry.
“Living Tree has a threefold mission that integrates the cohousing village, an educational farm, and a nonprofit that offers secular farm programs as well as seasonal programs that celebrate the cycles of the Jewish calendar that celebrates universal values and is open to all people. Living Tree's mission is to redesign community, regenerate land, and revitalize culture. We bring wisdom, joy, and connection through regenerative agriculture education and community programs,” Oshkello said.
Oshkello and her husband Craig, a land planner, used to live in an intentional community in New Hampshire and had a vision to build a community connected to the land, growing food and celebrating the calendar of the Jewish cycle. In 2010, they gathered a group in Moretown to envision the community and bought the property in 2015. Sephirah Oshkello said that Moretown has been really receptive to their community.
Currently, Living Tree has two lots for sale. The price ranges between $70,000 and $115,000. Oshkello said one lot is more developed than the other. The community is comprised of multiple generations, from a single-parent family with young kids to residents in their 70s. Another home is being built on the property this spring.
She said Living Tree community members are there to be resources for each other, share meals and help each other out. She noted cohousing counteracts isolation and encourages collaboration. “We can feel connected to one another,” she said.
Living Tree Alliance has both virtual and in-person tours for those interested in being part of the community. There is an in-person tour and Intergenerational Chanukah Party on Thursday, December 22, at 5:30 p.m.
A flyer says, “We gather to celebrate the Festival of Lights with games, story, food, and a warm fire. We begin the gathering with games and latke making in the common house including dreidle, Maccabee Fort, human dreidel contest, gelt stacking contest and more!”
The in-person tour begins at 4:30 p.m. before the celebration. The candle lighting and potluck dinner is at 6:30, followed by a bonfire and band.