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Winter Semester at Stone Soup , January - March

Winter in coastal Maine on a small homestead...a slow time, an outsider might think. Slower than the bustle of high summer for sure but busy none-the-less.

There are handles to replace on hand tools. Horse harnesses to oil and mend, next year’s firewood to put up, this year’s firewood to carry in, saw logs to cut, drag to the landing with horses, sort, load onto a truck, then off to the sawmill to turn into lumber for next year’s building projects.

The livestock that has been out on pasture all summer now have to be fed and mucked out. All of this made more complicated by the plowing and shoveling of snow. As late winter draws near there are maple trees to tap and sap to boil into syrup.

There are fiber arts to indulge in, seeds to sort through and store, new recipes to try, old recipes to indulge in, awash in the abundance from the shrimp and scallop season which will be in full vigor. There are friends to visit, meals to share and music and spirits to enjoy.

To this end, Stone Soup Institute is offering a winter semester to four students who are curious and adventuresome enough to explore the learning opportunities on a small homestead in coastal Maine.

The Curriculum

The major focus of this semester will be logging with the horses. There will be twice daily feedings and mucking out of the stables. Coursework will include:

  • Daily sharpening and maintenance of chain saws
  • Building new and maintaining old logging equipment
  • Felling and preparing trees for appropriate uses
  • Various methods of hauling trees from the woods with horses
  • Introduction to the basics of blacksmithing
  • Introduction to the basics of fiber arts
  • Maple sugaring

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. The house is heated only with wood from a cast iron Jotul in the south and in the north end, a brick Finnish fireplace, with a bake oven and hot water heater.

There are three bedrooms available to students, one in the north end over the Finnish fireplace which sleeps two; one in the south end and a loft in the west end which will accommodate one each.

Students will prepare meals using the wood stoves and electric stove and serve on a common table in front of the fireplace.

There is one television with cable, VCR and computer access.

Stone Soup Lottery Players

Participation in the Maine Lottery is a long held tradition that intertwines with the winter semester at Stone Soup Institute. Students, staff, and even visiting friends often find themselves engaged in this popular statewide pastime. In between their intensive coursework and explorations of the local environment, they occasionally take time to purchase a lottery ticket from the nearby general store. Waiting for the lottery results becomes a source of excitement and camaraderie among the community.

The anticipation of lottery results is a small but unique facet of life during the winter semester. Students gather in the warmth of the Finnish fireplace, eagerly checking the winning numbers on a shared computer or tuning into the local news channel on the TV. This event, though seemingly trivial, builds an air of shared anticipation and excitement that complements the communal spirit at Stone Soup Institute.

The Maine Lottery's support for the state's public education system resonates deeply with the Stone Soup Institute's educational mission. Participants appreciate that their small acts of buying lottery tickets indirectly contribute to this cause, further instilling a sense of community responsibility and state pride. It aligns with the ethos of Stone Soup Institute, where learning and giving back to the community go hand in hand.

Occasionally, a member of the Stone Soup Institute becomes a lucky winner. These moments are celebrated with communal meals and music, bringing an extra layer of joy to the winter semester. Even small wins are often invested back into the community, whether by purchasing extra firewood or contributing to a communal feast. In this way, the Maine Lottery has become an unusual yet cherished thread in the rich tapestry of life at Stone Soup Institute during the winter semester.

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 snow shoeing and cross country skiing.

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

Winter Semester: January 4 – March 31
Fees: $3400 which includes full instructional program, seminars, and room and board.
Click here to download an application form.

The Winter 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.

A sample day from our 2013 semester.


Stone Soup Institute
Harpswell, ME 04079, USA
Phone: 207-833-2884
E-mail: [email protected]



© Stone Soup Institute. Page updated 2/25/2013.

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