About Fox Haven

Our Mission

Fox Haven is a farm, ecological retreat and learning center, and wildlife sanctuary situated in the rolling Piedmont hills of central Maryland. It offers a beautiful farm setting for renewal and revitalization within a one hour drive of Washington DC and Baltimore, with comfortable accommodations in three recently renovated farmhouses and large meeting spaces in the big red barn and dairy parlor.

Fox Haven provides an atmosphere that allows people to slow down, reflect and learn to hear their inner voice, each other and the voice of the land. It provides a safe space and a peaceful haven for deep conversations, transformative workshops, meaningful meetings, and strategic planning sessions. We are grounded in nature and contemplative practice, dedicated to nurturing deep and creative conversations among people, restoring human connections with one another and with the natural world, and showcasing practical ways that individuals can improve Earth health and human health. By offering a wide variety of speakers, on going programs, activities for kids, family gatherings and celebrations, the Learning Center offers the surrounding community a safe haven for gatherings of all kinds.

Inspired by the wisdom of the natural world, Fox Haven is a gathering place, grounded in nature and contemplative practice, dedicated to nurturing deep and creative conversations among people, restoring human connection with the natural world, and engaging with the living, sacred earth. It provides a calm atmosphere to slow down, hear each other and learn from nature.

Fox Haven is a place for people seeking innovative and systemic solutions to the complex social and environmental problems threatening our planet by slowing down, listening, observing and learning from nature. We are cultivating a sense of wonder and joy in discovering the secrets and mysteries of the natural world.

Fox Haven sits at the creative intersection between people and the natural world of which we are a part. Fostering innovative practices for our shared wellbeing, we are building healthy soil for healthy food to feed a healthy community. Practicing regenerative agriculture, we are restoring the health of the land, protecting the water quality of Catoctin Creek and providing habitat for wildlife.

By modeling innovative organic farming practices that are alternatives to chemically intensive agriculture, we are part of the solution to shrinking biodiversity. We are regenerating healthy ecosystems, by building nutrient rich soils, to produce healthy food for healthy people living in harmony with the earth, and providing local solutions to global problems.

With awareness of the magnitude of global environmental problems, Fox Haven on a small scale is modeling local solutions to global problems such as water and food shortages, deforestation, habitat destruction, overgrazing, global warming, shrinking of the earth’s biological diversity and overconsumption of natural resources.

Practicing permaculture in terraced gardens, slowing water erosion. Diversifying our crops and working with the flow and cycles of nature. Tending gardens to provide healthy, nutritious food for learning center guests and friends. Planting trees on contour lines in buffer zones to improve water quality of Catoctin Creek. Keeping bee hives and planting pollinator friendly plants, milkweed for the monarch butterflies. Building nutrient rich soil by grazing cows and rotating them into a new pasture every day. Sequestering carbon from the atmosphere into pasture grasses and their roots is a good way to reduce global warming. Growing organic hay for a neighbor’s organic dairy operation. Tending blue bird boxes, building biodiversity and welcoming bird watchers. Restoring old buildings on the land instead of building new ones: barns, farmhouses, spring houses, milk shed and dairy parlor. Minimizing our use of natural resources and our footprint on the land.

For over 30 years, Fox Haven’s forest and farmland have been a training ground for innovative, sustainable farming practices to restore the health of the land, to protect the water quality of Catoctin Creek, and to provide sanctuary and habitat for wildlife.

Fox Haven sits at the creative intersection between people and the natural world of which we are a part, offering a peaceful of contemplation and reflection while fostering innovative practices for our shared well being. Seeing patterns of relationship and movement in the natural world and learning to think systemically will provide new perspectives on the challenges of our time.

Our intention is to do no harm as we discover how to balance the needs of the land: its water, soil, plant and animal life, including its human community. The entire Fox Haven farm is organic, practicing permaculture, working with the natural flows of energy, wind, water, sun, slopes, regenerating the life force of the land, using nature to heal nature. The farm fields, tree plantings, rain gardens, composting toilets, solar pumps, drip irrigation in the organic garden, mixed forests and creeks are laboratories for learning the complex lessons of nature and discussing how to apply these learnings to our work lives.

With awareness of the magnitude of global environmental problems, Fox Haven on a small scale is modeling local solutions to global problems such as water and food shortages, deforestation, habitat destruction, overgrazing, global warming, shrinking of the earth’s biological diversity and overconsumption of natural resources.

Our Team

Dick Bittner: Farm Manager, Photographer

Dick has spent most of his life close to farming and the farm community here in Frederick County. Born, raised, and educated through high school in northern Frederick County. His college degrees in engineering at the Johns Hopkins University led him to work for seventeen years assisting doctors at the Johns Hopkins Hospital where he designed, built, and tested research instrumentation for medical professionals. A second career in sales of Farms and Lands led Dick to assist in the formation of the tract of land that is now named Fox Haven Organic Farm (FHOF). His third career as farm manager at FHOF allows him to pull from all aspects of his life to make FHOF work best, in a natural way to produce food for the betterment of all who visit his natural outdoor

JoAnn Coates-Hunter: Education and Operations Director

JoAnn’s hope for Fox Haven is that we continue to offer respite, opportunities for learning, discussion, reflection, and play in sacred space on the farm. If everyone leaves the farm with a new understanding of self, nature, and our inter-dependency and connection she is happy. If everyone leaves with an action that they will take – be it a new gardening or farming technique, an energy saving act in the home/school/business/farm, a letter or phone call made to a business or governmental body, or a plan for a community garden or food and nutrition program, all the better!

JoAnn has over 30 years of experience in outdoor and indoor education, administration, and mentoring. She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Earlham College and School of Religion, and holds a teaching certificate from Brown University.

Lacey Walker: Community Garden Manager, Program Coordinator, Teacher

Lacey Walker manages the education garden and builds community programs at Fox Haven Learning Center, but considers her true career to be that of a lifelong student. Her studies include herbalism, farm based education for adults and children, plant based cuisine, meditation, caring for and expanding the troop of ferment “children” she raises for gut health, the science of soil and composting, the mysterious life of companion plants, monthly wanderings to new corners of the country and the indispensable, incomparable joy of community potlucking.

Lacey engages with her passion for writing by authoring Fox Haven’s monthly contribution to The Environment is You in the Frederick News Post and can sometimes be seen toting her camera around, a throwback to her time in art school pursuing a BFA in Photography at Shepherd University. More often these days she likes to keep her hands free for playing in the dirt.

Jan Hummer: Networking Mananger, Mindfulness Specialist, Teacher

Jan grew up in Middletown, MD and always had a strong connection to the natural world. She has created contemplative nature – based programs for all ages and abilities in Maryland, West Virginia, and Colorado. Jan holds a Masters degree in Contemplative Education from Naropa University. She is the Co – Founder /Director of Open Minds, Inc. ( non – profit), a mindfulness education program serving counties in western and mid Maryland. Jan volunteers for different organizations focusing on social change. Jan is also the mother of 9-year old Delia Ayn. You will find her hiking, writing, meditating, reading, when not playing with her daughter.

Phil Westcott: Composting Wizard and Technical Administrator

After many years working as a photographer for land management agencies throughout the country, Phil is excited to return to the Jefferson area to continue his work with conservation and the environment. He is a graduate of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia where he studied Photography and got introduced to conservation and education through the Fish and Wildlife’s National Conservation Training Center. After attending the “Neighborhood Soil Rebuilder” course with the Institute for Local Self Reliance (I.L.S.R) in 2015, Phil has been avidly researching soil biology and composting science. In the coming years, he hopes to educate and create new solutions for composting within our community.

Mardelle Poffenberger: Bookkeeper, Living History Teacher

Mardelle grew up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, and spent her youth in the outdoors – camping, swimming, fishing, exploring both the Bay area, and the Frederick County farmland when visiting relatives. She loves history, and is known for her living history activity in Frederick County. She prescribes to the sustainable, use-everything-throw-nothing-away lifestyle which existed for thousands of years, that she works to incorporate into her daily routine. Professionally, Mardelle is a bookkeeper, administrator trained in business management and is part owner of Bravura Arts & Framing, an art gallery and custom picture framing shop in downtown Frederick. Mardelle’s work at Fox Haven allows her to combine much of what she loves in life.

Board of Directors

The Land at Fox Haven

Here, in the low, folded hills of Maryland, on the doorstep of our nation’s capitol, a dream is coming true. It is a dream in service to the future, a life-sustaining future where the land is restored and true community arises. The harvest they promise includes not only ecological practices reinvigorating soil and waterways and woodlands. It is to be reckoned as well in what happens to the men and women who come to Fox Haven, to look and learn. As they step aside from daily pressures, nature will speak to them, reminding them of their embeddedness in the web of life. Systems thinking will take on fresh, sensory, reality, as they discern and begin to trust the flowing cycles of the natural world. And as they choose to take part in the great adventure that is Fox haven, I believe they will find new hope for their lives and for our country. – Joanna Macy

Voices of the Land

In the following pages Fox Haven speaks to us of her dreams and of her losses and invites us to join in the ongoing dance of creation, neither as a caretaker nor a master but as a participating partner. Her voice is more than a literary device. It is symbolic of a profound shift in perspective that is occurring—the emergence of an ecological model of reality. At a time when our relationship with our planet seems increasingly destructive, this model holds out new hope for understanding how we can harmonize human activities with the continuing regeneration of life on our planet even as we continue to develop our potential as humans. Fox Haven extends an invitation to consciously try on this alternative perspective, explore its implications and experience oneself as simultaneously a creator in and a creation of the dance of life. It is an exploration that begins but does not end with Fox Haven.

It is one thing to describe a new model of reality but how does that translate into our day-to-day thinking and behavior? The reassuring certainty of reductive, linear thinking has been exposed as fundamentally inadequate for comprehending the complexity of a living world in which “everything is connected to everything”. As the picture of an ecological world unfolds, we are gaining increasing appreciation for the wisdom of nature as it generates, regenerates and sustains life. But, despite growing recognition of the inadequacies of our old models, they are still predominant forces in shaping our thinking. Linear thinking is valued for its problem solving effectiveness, but it bars us from seeing the systemic context of our efforts and, consequently, their systemic consequences. Only through systemic thinking can we learn from and apply this wisdom.

For a deeper exploration of the land at Fox Haven, download voices of the land.