Hart’s Mill Ecovillage is an evolving agrarian community planned for a beautiful 112-acre expanse of fields, streams and woods located 10 miles west of Hillsborough in Orange County, NC. Our vision is to provide a tangible example of integrated ecologically, socially, culturally, and economically sustainable ways of living for residents plus entrepreneurial partners and visitors. We also intend for it to be a model and educational resource for others who wish to forge similar endeavors.
We seek to create a compact village-style rural housing cooperative with about 30 homes with 60-70 residents. Our goal is to establish a high quality of life while minimizing resource use and preserving the majority of the land in agriculture, woodlands, and open space. The initiative is being led by a group of local residents who intend to live at Hart’s Mill. Hart’s Mill has been founded with the intention of modeling integrated, low-impact approaches to residential development and land stewardship. Elements of this goal include:
- a vibrant and diverse multi-generational community where people thrive and support each other in every stage of life
- accessibility to flexible and affordable housing options
- onsite opportunities for farm and home-based employment
- a high degree of self-sufficiency in food, fiber, and energy
- adoption of the best site and building design principles and practices for reducing use of energy, water, and other resources
- management of the land for diversified food and timber production, wildlife habitat, recreation, research and education
The size of our village allows us to know each other deeply, while nourishing social relationships, food production, employment opportunities, and shared facilities to meet many of our needs on-site. Our governance is sociocracy which values and promotes effectiveness, equivalence, and transparency in all our endeavors. We welcome new members who would like to participate in making Hart’s Mill a reality.
We achieved re-zoning in November, 2015, and we plan to break ground in 2017.
ORANGE COUNTY APPROVALS PROCESS, May-November, 2015
Harts Mill worked with engineering, planning and permaculture professionals to develop a master plan which embodies long-term conservation, restoration, and stewardship of the land and low-impact residential development. A major portion of the site will be permanently protected for agricultural, forestry and natural habitat uses through easements, deed restrictions and/or trusts.
A compact village of small homes and accessory buildings is planned which will cover only about 15% of the site on the west side near the entrance to Frazier Road. Two additional homes associated with the farm are planned for the east side of the property, along with a barn, garage, workshop, and shed to support agriculture and forestry activities. Permaculture principles will be used throughout the site for landscaping and food, fiber, and timber production that will provide a degree of self-reliance for the residents and a diverse and sustainable ecosystem of plants and animals.
Since early in 2014, we devoted lots of energy to prepare our re-zoning application to Orange County. On March 6th, 2015, we submitted a preliminary application in preparation for a public hearing in front of the Orange County Commissioners on May 26th. We spent the intervening 3 months filling in the blanks and preparing our presentation.
The Hart’s Mill Zoning District was officially approved by the Orange County Commissioners on November 5, 2015! This took an enormous amount of work on the part of a lot of people, signally Katy Ansardi who spearheaded the effort on every level. The result is a process we can all be proud of and—better yet—has found favor with the County. We can now move forward to build the village and farm envisioned for this community – dreams that began to take form over eight years ago. Amazing!
The Public Hearing on May 26th, 2015
Michael Harvey from the Orange County Planning Department presented our project to the Board of Commissioners. We are grateful to him for his expert guidance and support along the way. Katy Ansardi and Hope Horton followed up with the Hart’s Mill story, intended to convey who we are, what we want to do, and why. PowerPoint slides summarizing the main points are posted below.