Hickory Ridge

Spencer, West Virginia, United States

  • Last updated: April 30, 2017 (4 weeks ago)
  • Listing created on: August 22, 2006

Mission Statement

sustainable living in Appalachia

Community Description

Hickory Ridge Land Trust comprises 72 acres of ridge-top land and the wooded coves below, and a separate parcel of 70 acres of bottom-land several miles away. Both are in central West Virginia near Spencer, a town of 2400. The ridge-top land is divided into four leaseholds and a common area. All four of the leaseholds are already taken by families. The remaining leasehold has no cleared land currently but a large old garden spot could be readily cleared, and there is a small building left behind. The bottom-land parcel has an existing house in poor condition, and a creek running through it. It’s overgrown with autumn olive. A small community has signe3d a lease for this land, so it looks like we have no available leaseholds at present.

While we on the ridge exist as separate households, it’s our intention to share some resources and trade produce. Reducing the use of fossil fuels, living in harmony with the Earth, and working for peace and social justice are values we share.

Our land has great views and nice woods, but (on the ridge-top) we don’t have a year-round stream. We do have wells, and average annual rainfall here is about 40 inches. We have four seasons, with a few small snowfalls in a typical winter, a long hot, humid summer, a colorful fall, and as for the Appalachian Spring, it inspired a symphony. The local area could never be described as progressive, unfortunately, and jobs are scarce. However, taxes and the cost of living are low, and building codes don’t apply here.

One of our members was part of the original commune of 40 years ago. The second couple joined eight years ago, and a single man a couple of years ago. The fourth couple joined in spring of 2016. Our ages range from 36 to 75, plus the new 35-year-old, on the ridge; the people at the bottomland place, which we call the Sako land, are younger. Two households are grid-tied solar powered, two are off-grid. Moving toward collective self-sufficiency is a goal, so we seek people interested in projects like bee-keeping, mushroom growing, keeping dairy goats or other animals, alternative-energy production, etc. Seeking like-minded people prepared to build their own houses and develop agricultural projects. There is a one-time $1000 join fee; after that you pay your share of the property tax and cost of gravel for the road, around $400/year.

  • Status: Established (At least 4+ adults, 2+ years)
  • Started Planning: 1975
  • Start Living Together: 1975
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Open to new Members: Not currently, but there is a list or possibly in the future
  • Please read the details in Membership below before contacting this community. Send Message
  • Contact Name: Mary Wildfire
  • Phone: 304-927-4970
  • Community Address:
    1069 Steel Hollow Rd.
    Spencer, West Virginia, 25276
    United States
  • Location


  • Type(s): Ecovillage (organized around ecology and sustainability), Cohousing (individual homes within group owned property)
  • Programs & Activities: WWOOF’ing, Guest Farming
  • Location: Rural


  • Status: We have land we have developed on
  • Current Residence Types: Single-family homes, Tiny house, Lots to build on
  • Current Number of Residences: 5
  • Planned number of residences: 5
  • Housing Provided: Purchase
  • Land owned by: Community controlled land trust
  • Additional Comments:

    plus the 70 acres of bottomland

    If accepted, you build your own house, in whatever style you please; building codes don’t apply here so you can get started right away without jumping through hoops or hiring contractors. We have built our own homes and can advise.


  • Adult Members: 10
  • Percent Women: 50%
  • Percent Men: 50%
  • Percent Transgender: 21-30%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    Please contact by email.

  • Membership Process:

    You have to get to know us, and we are considering a trial period. There is also a one-time join fee of $1000, per household.

  • Additional Comments:

    No space in appropriate spot to explain why I unchecked the fair housing pledge: while we would not discriminate in any other realm, we are looking for younger people (kids to middle-aged) for the sake of community continuity; also would prefer people with similar values (environmental, peace and social justice) which could be called political.

    Kids did public and home school but are now grown up


  • Decision Making: Consensus (everyone agrees)
  • Identified Leader: No
  • Leadership Core Group: No
  • Additional Comments:

    Because we live as separate households who make their own decisions, we have just one meeting a year. We don’t have to agree on every project.


  • Join Fee: $1000
  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: No
  • Shared Income: None
  • Required Labor Contribution: No
  • Open to members with existing debt: Yes (some debt)
  • Additional Comments:

    Road work, occasional group projects

    1000 join fee

    your share of property tax and road gravel, calculated yearly, around $400/year per household

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy Infrastructure: We use both systems.
  • Current renewable energy generation: Almost All, around 90%
  • Energy sources: Solar
  • Planned renewable energy generation: 100%
  • Current food produced: Between 26-49%
  • Planned food produced: Almost All, around 90%
  • Food produced locally: From 50-75%


  • Common Facilities: Vehicle Share, Tractor & Farm Equipment
  • Internet Available: Yes, individuals provide it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, it’s fine.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for most people.
  • Shared meals: About once a week
  • Dietary Practice: Omnivorous (plants and animals), Organic (no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers), Mostly Vegetarian
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: No – people may eat however they wish.
  • Alcohol Use: Yes, used occasionally.
  • Tobacco Use: Yes, used seldomly, or ceremoniously.
  • Additional Diet Comments:

    None of us smoke, but this is your choice.

  • Common Spiritual Practice(s): Ecumenical (accepts all religions or spiritual practices), Eclectic (integrates multiple religious or spiritual beliefs), Christian, Wiccan, Protestant, Catholic, Paganism or Earth Religions, Agnostic, this is a private matter
  • Education Style(s): Public Schooling, Up to each family or individual
  • Healthcare Options: Up to each family or individual
  • Additional Comments:

    We are separate households, but we do share some things, like my husband’s pickup and the Wilsons’ washing machine, and do favors for each other; we have two cider presses we use together.

Additional Comments

Four miles from a town of 2400, for the main, ridgetop community. A little further up a worse road, for the other. Currently no openings exist; if someone leaves, they can sell the improvements (mostly meaning the house) to a newcomer who must be accepted by the board.

Photo Gallery

Community Network or Organization Affiliations

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), Catholic Worker

Community Affiliations

Alliance of People Protecting Appalachian Land, a network of 5 communities

Fair Housing Laws

This community acknowledges that their listing does not include any potential violations of the Fair Housing Law, or that they do not provide housing. For any questions about this topic please see our Content Policies and contact FIC with any questions or concerns: [email protected].


transition, sustainability, self-sufficiency, community