currently includes two pieces of property in Roane County just to the
north and south of the county seat, Spencer, WV (pop. 2,400)
- Hickory Ridge – 72 acres of ridgetop (NO VACANCY)
- Sako’s Land – 65 acres of wooded hillsides (NO VACANCY)
West Virginia Regional Land Trust was established in 1977
by those living on three hippie communes on three separate tracts of land around the state: one in Roane County, one in Summers County and one in Greenbrier County. Over the years, the communities dispersed and the land was left vacant. The Trust went without a Board of Directors until 2003 when original member & his wife reconstituted it with the hopes of retiring on the Hickory Ridge tract in Roane County. By then, the other two tracts had been lost. No court records could be found for the one in Summers County, and the last community member on the tract in Greenbrier County had (illegally) put the deed in her name and the property had gone on to heirs. We chose not to fight it in court. In 2012, though, the reestablished RLTWV Board accepted the donation of deceased Herbert Sussman’s 65 acres from his family, and “Sako Land” was annexed into the Trust, thus, bringing the number of tracts back up to two.
The purpose of the Regional Land Trust of West Virginia is to…
- Provide access to land for the landless;
- Promote the ecological use of land for the common good;
- Protect land from speculation;
- Encourage a new relationship with land that sees it as the common heritage of all people, not as the private property of a few, nor as a commodity to be exchanged;
- Develop networks of support and fellowship that will strengthen those on trust lands in times of need or ecological threat to the land;
- Support efforts for land reform everywhere.
1. Hickory Ridge
- NO VACANCY
- Mission Statement: sustainable living in Appalachia
Hickory Ridge comprises 72 acres of ridge-top land and the wooded coves below. The ridge-top land is divided into four leaseholds and a common area. Each of the leaseholds is now taken by families.
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 not be described as progressive, 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; now he and his wife spend weekends here, while working in the bigger city of Charleston during the week. The second couple joined in 2005, a single man in 2013, and a young couple in 2016. Our ages range from 35 to 74. One household is grid-tied solar powered, the other is off-grid. Moving toward collective self-sufficiency is a goal, so we are interested in projects like bee-keeping, mushroom growing, keeping dairy goats or other animals, alternative-energy production, etc. and would be willing to discuss same with whomever ends up on Sako Land.
2. Sako’s Land
- ONE LEASEHOLD – NO VACANCY
Currently, there is only one dwelling with access and utilities on the property. The rest of the land is steep, wooded hillside.
Serigraph Artist, Herbert Phillip Sussman, also known as “Sako,” graduated from the Newark School of Art in New Jersey, class of 1951. Although originally from the city, Sako found his niche in the woods of Roane County, West Virginia where he lived a solitary life close to the land from 1981 until his death in 2012 at the age of 77. It was then that his family donated his 65 acres to West Virginia Regional Land Trust.
More to come on the new community who signed the lifetime lease and moved onto the land in December 2016!