The Land is Four Quarters

thumb beautiful and green labyrinth     At our core, Four Quarters is an incredibly beautiful tract of Land that has been set aside to promote our twin missions of Earth Based Spirituality and Earth Balanced Living. The Land itself is sacred, a place of spiritualality and worship. We are incorporated as an InterFaith Church providing for the nonprofit ownership of the Land that ensures it will always be held open for the practices of Earth Based Spirituality.
     As a camp, we provide a low impact setting for our Members and visitors to attend our services, reverence nature and learn to live within its limits. For we who live here, Four Quarters is our personal commitment to put into everyday practice the ethics of living lightly on the Earth, as pioneers in this emerging Age of Limits. Together, these threads form a living community of people living in a conscious relationship with the Earth and their Earth Spirituality.
    Four Quarters is 150 acres of extremely beautiful and diverse land in the Allegheny foothills of south central Pennsylvania. We are located 15 miles west of the intersection of Interstates 68 and 70 at Hancock, Maryland, just a mile across the state line into Pennsylvania.
     The Land is surrounded on three sides by a horseshoe bend in Sidling Creek, one of the cleanest free-flowing streams in the state as it cuts through Town Hill Mountain. The creek forms a naturally secluded retreat, framed by high cliffs and blessed with fine natural swimming.
    The land features a broad range of ecological habitats ranging from creekside wetland to dry cliff face, mature forest to hilltop meadow. Four Quarters is listed as the most ecologically diverse tract of land in Bedford County, Pennsylvania by The Western Pennsylvania Nature Conservancy and we are ever mindful of this trust in caring for the Land.
    Providing access to exceptional natural surroundings for individual spiritual growth is a primary purpose for which Four Quarters was founded.

The Stone Circle

     Four Quarters is the home of the Circle of Standing Stones, our great work of creating a living Sanctuary for Earth Spirituality, open to all. The Circle began in 1995 with an idea… and one solitary Standing Stone raised on a forested hilltop. Today, thirty-nine Stones stand on that hilltop, outlining one-half of a 200 foot diameter Circle. Each year hundreds join us over the Labor Day weekend as we raise more Stones, moving the 10,000 pound, 16 foot long monoliths by hand as an example of Living Community.

m Shwenck altar in fall cropped
    We take a very long view here at Four Quarters and working with the Standing Stones makes one quite content to grow slow and sure. This is reflected in our planning for the Stone Circle, whose inner ring alone will take another 10 years to complete.
     For our Spiritual use the Land also includes an eighty four foot diameter hilltop Labyrinth, The Sun Dance Arbor, a Drum and Dance Circle, forested creek side altars for private ceremony, the glittery Fairy Cairn, a beautiful Sweat Lodge site and too many other sacred sites to list here.

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The InterFaith Sanctuary

Choir and altar   Four Quarters was founded in 1995 to provide a Sanctuary for Earth Spirituality within safe and sacred natural surroundings, without requiring a formal religious affiliation. We are incorporated as a nonprofit Interfaith Church in the State of Pennsylvania, governed by our Board of Directors and Members Advocates. Since 1997, Four Quarters has held open New and Full Moon Circles throughout the year, created by volunteers from our Membership.
    We sponsor spiritual and cultural gatherings during the camping season, and we celebrate the traditional folklife ceremonies, including May Day and Beltaine, the Solstices, Samhain and Yule.
    Our commitment is to Earth Based Spiritual Traditions, not as a social club or counter-cultural statement, but as the relevant and very much needed wisdom of ancient ways for this terribly modern world. There is no requirement of Church Membership in order to participate in any activity at Four Quarters.

The Threads of Community

   We are the creation of the many people who have come to the Land, sensed something special, and made the choice to support it in their lives. For it is the Community of people in connection with each other and the Land that forms the magic that is Four Quarters.
     We honor the many world traditions that reflect an Earth Based Spirituality, and we work to support those traditions and welcome their people. We do not teach “One Way” of belief. We do not have “The Answer.” We do have good questions.
    We honor family in its many shapes and colors, cherishing our children and their parents, our community’s Aunts, Uncles and Elders; and our straight, gay and lesbian Members... who together form the family that will raise our children into their future. Our commitment to the Earth, our love of children, and our responsibility to our shared future require that we consider how our actions affect our community... and how they may reverberate generations from now.
    We believe a sustainable future is one that draws upon traditional ways of living and invents new, green ones. Through careful stewardship of the Land we can contribute to the creation of community lifeways that honor the Earth and sustain its life.

Sustainable Living

     Four Quarters is a full time home to its “live in” staff, who work in the campground and offices to support our Spiritual mission. But it is at the “Farm House” that our mission of developing sustainable lifeways comes to the fore.

     The Farm House area is a complex of buildings, agricultural land, gardens and orchards that form the hub of our day to day life here. The original farm house dates from the 1890’s and is still privately owned; housing our offices, the winery and our common food and social areas. Four Quarters itself owns two adjacent dwellings for the use of live in staff and Members.

Canning TomatoesSml    Developing practical strategies for coping with the emerging “Age of Limits” is more than an abstract idea for us, it is how we now live. Conserving physical resources is a first principle, and we do this by pooling all of our transportation, household equipment, tools and food preparation. We grow much of our own produce in our gardens and are just now beginning to harvest from our young orchards. We raise our own poultry and our beef is grass fed here on the land. Food preservation is a major effort and defines our fall months, as we process up to 1,000 quart jars of food for storage in our root cellars. During the summer season, much of our garden produce goes to our camp kitchen, served at our Saturday evening Moon Service dinners and larger gatherings.

     We are technically fluent and maintain a growing shop space where we design, create and repair much of the everyday equipment and furnishings upon which we and the campground depend. Our long term planning provides for much more in the way of demonstration energy systems, active aquaculture and experimental food production.

     “Think Globally and Act Locally” is not just a political truism, but also a key part of any kind of sustainable living. We are “Locavores,” purchasing locally produced food and supplies whenever possible, even when at a higher price. And we are “localizing” our own economic footprint through The Four Quarters Winery, our non-profit owned business producing cottage crafted wines. Here we procure our ingredients through local suppliers, craft the product with our own labor and sell the finished wine locally, without corporate distribution.

     Most of us living here at Four Quarters have little background in rural living; our learning curve is steep, and we have learned much more from our many failures than we will ever learn from “getting it right the first time.” We do share a deep distrust of an economic model that offers only the choices of never ending growth or systemic collapse. Our understanding of the issues of Climate Change, Resource Depletion and Debtor Economics that drive that distrust has caused us to make a third choice. We would like to share what we have learned, and learn from your choices.

"The Farm"

PavilionRoofNorth    Fondly called “The Farm” by many of our Members, we offer tent camping in a beautiful forested setting for those who wish to commune with the Spirit of the natural world. The Land is home to our Moon Services, family weekends and personal retreat, as well as the larger spiritual gatherings sponsored by Four Quarters or the other non-profit groups we host.
    “The Farm” began in 1994 with old woods roads and a long-abandoned farm house. After seventeen years of sweat and sacrifice, generosity and creation, the main camp now has over a mile and a half of tidy roads, two sanded Fire and Drum Circles, a smaller “bardic” fire circle and a covered stage. The Coffee Dragons hospitality pavilion forms the social hub of camp life, helped along by perpetual hot showers, flush and composting toilets, a licensed kitchen stocked with commercial food service equipment, and a licensed deep well water supply piped throughout the camp. And sacred site abound through the Land.

     We generate our own power through bio and conventional diesel distributed through buried power lines, and can support 300 people over a long weekend with less than one half the power capacity of a single family home. Our water system uses state of the art on-demand hot water heaters and imported Australian super low flush toilets. Best of all, we offer no trash service of any kind! Because of our Members’ self responsibility, you will find nary a scrap of litter when you visit Four Quarters.

Star Tendril Logo    We hope that your visit here can be a time of slow paced reflection, where you can literally stop to smell the flowers, or one of high energy participation in Fire Circle, and with our Community. But whatever your needs, if they are of your heart and soul and the Earth you walk upon, we think you may find them at Four Quarters.