Our Story: Mission, Vision & History
Bellwether Farm Camp, Retreat, and Education Center offers a model for sustainable living that promotes physical and spiritual wellness, fidelity to the environment, and social justice by incorporating farming, food production, and environmental stewardship into land-based educational programs for people of all ages and backgrounds.
In the heart of the Diocese of Ohio, Bellwether Farm provides sacred space that awakens our senses to all that is possible in God’s creation and inspires us to live more lightly on the earth. It is a place where we teach and model a stewardship that conserves, protects, and deepens the integrity and biodiversity of that which God has provided us in this precious gift.
Through the integration of service, learning, worship, and play, we can foster a sense of community that reaches beyond the traditional limits of our churches to serve people across the region in a transformational way.
The Episcopal Diocese of Ohio has partnered with a variety of institutions, organizations, and businesses in Northern Ohio to provide innovative programs that serve targeted populations, including economically disadvantaged children and families.
Cedar Hills was the camp home for the Diocese of Ohio camp for many years. After outgrowing this location, the search began for a new home--one that could facilitate a new vision of fostering spiritual and physical wellness for adults and youth through the integration of a farm. This was envisioned as a space that could not only support farming activities, but have water for swimming and paddling, forested space to explore and steward, and varied topography and vistas. Sounds like a dream place! Where on earth would such a place be found?
After years of searching, planning, and an extensive capital campaign, Bellwether Farm, the Diocese of Ohio’s camp, retreat, and education center, held its official ground-breaking in the fall of 2016. This momentous occasion would not have been possible without the visionary and generous support of the members of our Diocesan community, as well as the help of numerous community partners.
Construction is well underway at the farm, with anticipated completion by the end of the year. The major infrastructure, including systems and roads, is in place. Barns and Youth Camp Cabins have been constructed. Construction on the dining/meeting building and the retreat residences has begun and will be ongoing throughout the fall.
Our Land: the Biotic Community from Farm to Forest
This land has been farmed for more than 100 years, providing dairy cow and Morgan horse pasture, selective and clear-cut logging, and crops of soy, wheat, and corn. Now it welcomes a new era of farm activity that revolves around organic and regenerative practices, both contemporary and ancient. Bellwether Farm provides a replicable model of farming and food production, embracing the highest standards of environmental stewardship. A centerpiece program is our teaching kitchen that focuses on locally sourced food, seasonal eating, and healthy nutrition.
The soils of Bellwether Farm produce a range of fruits and vegetables and provide grazing crops to nourish farm animals. With an integrative farm plan, we produce healthy food for our educational and camp programs. By participating in farm life, visitors, campers, and retreatants will experience the physical and spiritual rewards of digging deep and getting dirty.
Nestled at the heart of the Vermilion River Watershed, our land is dynamically shaped by water: upland forest and prairie habitats dominate the non-cultivated natural areas of the Eastern acreage, while the West of Bellwether Farm descends to recreational fields, edge habitats, floodplain forests, a pond, wetlands, riparian corridors with vernal pools. The diversity of these places fosters tremendous biodiversity and hosts...
- Over 250 species of herbaceous plants, with several being rare or threatened in the state of Ohio
- More than 40 species of shrubs and trees, and 50 acres of mature woodland
- Many dozens of migratory birds, plus many residents from Turkeys to Chickadees to Bald Eagles
- Amazing native animals such as treefrogs, coyote, beavers and deer
We see this land as a gift and our presence here as a membership in a beloved ecological community. We strive to care for and steward this land in a way that conserves, protects and bolsters the integrity and biodiversity of it.
Grounded in an ecological spirituality, we at Bellwether Farm seek to care for Earth, welcome guests and make decisions which reflect an on-going awareness of both our responsibility and our joy in living in harmony with all that is. We study, pray, live in community and work within a framework that strives to honor the sacred dimension of creation.