skip to content
Vermont Family Forests
Donate to VFF
Conserving The Health Of Our Local Forest Community


Hogback Community College

“Homegrown Applications of Global Principles”         

>> To view upcoming Hogback Community College courses, visit our events page.
>> To read about past Hogback Community College courses, visit our HCC archives page.

Wendell Berry uses of the word “membership” to evoke the potential for rich relationship between an individual and his or her human and more-than-human communities. Membership implies not simply responsibilities and rights, but also the pleasures of actively contributing to the one’s beloved home on earth and the network of life which it supports.

One natural expression of such a warm sense of affiliation is a lifelong desire to teach and learn from one’s neighbors. Accordingly, by the bonfire at the Waterworks Winter Solstice gathering in 2009, the idea for Hogback Community College took shape as a loose but energetic confederation of teachers and learners in the Five-town Forest of northeastern Addison County, Vermont. 

Hogback Ridge forges north-south through the center of our five-town region, which embraces New Haven, Bristol, Monkton, Starksboro, and Lincoln. It seems fitting, then, that this backbone of our five-town landscape should be the namesake for this community-based experiment in learning.

Our goal is to found a true community college—one that celebrates and sustains our community through offering a diverse, changing array of useful and attractive courses.  We foresee absolutely no need to establish a separate campus with a professional faculty and administrators or a substantial endowment. Rather, we hope to take a lighter and more improvisatory approach, one which is directly responsive to the initiatives, offers, and requests of our neighbors. 

Some classes may meet in homes or in the various towns’ libraries, while others may take advantage of classrooms at Mt. Abraham Union High School or the local elementary schools when they are not otherwise being used in the evenings or weekends.  During the summer, outdoor sessions at the Waterworks or in the National Forest will be yet another attractive option.   

Some courses may just meet for one or two weekends, while others may last all year.  We imagine the curriculum as offering training in practical skills related to health, food, and energy-efficiency, classes in artistic and literary appreciation and creativity, seminars on citizenship, social progress, and economic fairness, and spiritual explorations.  And those are just for starters! 

We firmly believe that if we reach a point where we require either a significant endowment or full-time staff to run Hogback Community College, that would indicate that we had lost our way and need to start again. Our goal is to create a modest fee-structure for our courses that lies within the range of interested students while adequately repaying the time of teachers, as well as the modest costs for advertising and administering the courses.


Updated 5/20/2011

For more information about any of Vermont Family Forests' events,
contact us at 453-7728 or e-mail