The Stone Soup Institute is an international school offering courses of study which integrate traditional and contemporary practices and knowledge in the Agrarian Arts & Sciences, Crafts and Fine Arts.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Spring/Summer Semester 2013

Spring/Summer Semester 2014

As Winter begins to wind down the days are growing increasingly longer, the buds on the trees begin to swell and the sap begins to flow. We find ourselves well rested after a Winter of long nights and as our energy begins to surge we are once again reminded that we are not separate from the world around us.
Our thoughts turn to Spring as we contemplate plowing a new garden plot, starting seedlings, buying piglets and chicks, wild harvesting, and wine and beer making will be filling our farming days. We are sawing lumber for,cold frames, chicken tractors, and a small greenhouse(from our stack of salvaged windows).  Raised beds and barn rafters, a hog house and pen, and windows to trim our shop.
 As the Tiny House movement gains momentum we will begin construction on our third one to sell as part of our fundraising campaign.
 The seafood season will be in full vigor as the days turn past the Summer Solstice. We will spend long days in the gardens and fields and many long evenings around the Mediterranean Grill and outdoor Bake Oven feasting on the fruits of our labor.
To this end, Stone Soup Institute is offering a Spring/Summer semester to four students who are curious and adventuresome enough to explore the learning opportunities on a small homestead in coastal Maine.

The Curriculum

  • Gardening and Crops
    • planting and tending seedlings 
    • direct seeding crops
  • Animal Husbandry
    • selection and care of piglets
    • selection and care of broilers and laying chicks
    • use and care of draft horses
  • Building 
    • tiny house
    • cold frame
    • greenhouse
    • hog pen
    • chicken tractor
    • raised beds
    • installation of windows and doors
  • Craft
    • wild harvesting
    • wine making
    • beer making
    • baking in a wood-fired outdoor oven
    • grilling on Mediterranean style Community Grill
    • Introduction to Fiber Arts
    • Introduction to Blacksmithing

The educational experience is designed around the practical skills and seasonal rhythms associated with maintaining a small homestead.
The primary delivery of the curriculum is through the hands-on experience where students are expected to be self-motivated and able to self-evaluate, as there is no required reading, or testing.  

Living Arrangements

Participants in this semester will live in a 2000 square foot house built by Jim Cornish, the co-founder of Stone Soup Institute. There is also a 16 foot diameter tipi and campsites available.
In the house, there are two bedrooms available to students; one in the north end and one in the south end each will sleep two students.
Students will prepare meals using the electric stove, outdoor grill and bake oven. Meals are served on a common table. 
There is one television with cable, VCR and DVD. There is computer access and wireless internet.

Social Opportunities

Stone Soup Institute is located on Harpswell Neck, a peninsula that is nine miles long and ½ mile wide at its widest point. There are miles of shoreline to explore within walking distance of the house, miles of public trails for hiking.
A small general store and post office are ¼ mile from the house.
Brunswick, the closest town to Harpswell, is nine miles north. It is a typical New England college town with movie theatres, libraries, restaurants, small shops, etc. A health food store and Farmers Market provide opportunities to buy provisions and visit with other farmers in the area.

Tuition, Fees and Dates

Spring Semester: May 15 – August 15, 2013
Fees: $3400 which includes full instructional program, seminars, and room and board.
Click here to download an application form.

The Spring Semester at Stone Soup promises to be physically demanding, emotionally challenging, spiritually expansive, and intellectually stimulating. We hope that you are ready to stand in a place where our past meets our future and explore the possibilities.

Stone Soup Institute
298 Allen Point Road, Harpswell, ME 04079, USA
Phone: 207-833-2884

The Art of Labor

At times it seems that the art of physical work has been forgotten. It does not seem to be thought of, even in the negative sense, as in, "that work is for simple people who are not smart enough to get better work."  Though it feels culturally forgotten, it is not gone.

I think about that great cultural amnesia, and feel  pain about it,  because there is real joy and beauty in work that is shaped by the realities of the earth. In learning how to live within the rhythms and hymns of the earth, we learn the art of stillness; the challenging art of attention to reality. What you believe will happen matters little, when it differs from the reality of what actually is happening. It is only from that quiet, still, attentive place that we truly work with the earth, instead of trying to change and control it. We wrap our days around the rhythms of the earth, and live in the happy cradle of the earth- where all things will become balanced, where more time will always come, where  real rest will happen at the end of each day, and each year is marked with what we have learned, not what we have failed at, or done wrong. We are lifted and carried by the energy that awakens the world, and we rest with the darkness that tells all living things to sleep. 

The play of children gives way to the work of adults, and we put down our head and pull upon ourselves a weight that no one can gracefully bear.  But the more I  consider, the more I believe the reality of play and joy, that  we are so sure of as children, is the real one. Why should we not play when we work? Why should we not feel joy within our bodies as we interact with the alive world that we inhabit? Why should the way the world is put together ever stop fascinating us? In learning something well, you realize only that you know so little, and that we have this precious medium of time to feel and know this endlessly expanding place.  Calvin Luther Martin, author of The Way of the Human Being, wrote tenderly, and very well about this. Here he writes about a story teller- a man Native to the Arctic:

" The old man would speak of a world bristling and crackling with power, the power of origination and deepest formation, which cared for everything- took care of everything- even human beings. The earth, he said, is not a place to fear. The problem was that adults had lost their nerve, lost faith in the marrow of it all. Children, he believed, still hold the mighty secret of trust. It was the lesson of the child to the adult: absolute trust. Once trust began percolating back into the soul again, humans would behold the liberating of those colossal earthly powers that now lay silent under the spell of our bad faith. The earth would be alive again and human beings would stop living lives of waiting, stop living in the curse of time and history, to live instead in the still point of beauty."

Monday, February 4, 2013

A day at SSI

 Horse powered logging with the winter semester crew, homemade fresh ground cornbread.

 Video footage and editing by Dan Paluska