JULY 2016  – AUGUST 2016

Designed as a first experiment towards the forming of Thoreau College, the Prelude was a three week intensive course exploring humans relationship with the natural world and inner self. Set partially at the Driftless Folk School campus in cabins on a farm, the prelude offered a wide variety of workshops and experiences, from herbalism and daily singing to personal biographical study. The first week of the prelude was completely outdoors and isolated from any technology. Keith Hess, west coast herbalist and therapeutic eurythmist, led an interactive course in the mornings about plants and their relationship with humans. The afternoons were spent in philosophical discussion of Rudolf Steiner’s book A Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe’s World Conception. In between there were delicious locally sourced meals, singing, and physical labor building trails. The second week moved indoors, where participants learned from their own biographies, and the biographies of Thoreau and Steiner, which was balanced by movement workshops. The last week focused on the history of local peoples, discussions about inner and outer capacities for social change, and looked ahead towards the emerging vision of Thoreau College.


OCTOBER 2017  – JUNE 2018

The Founding Fellows was a year long residential program which invited six participants to lay the groundwork of Thoreau College. The fellows represented diverse perspectives and life experiences, ranging in age, nationality, background and interests, and brought their unique perspectives to the work of imagining a new model of higher education. The first half of the year was spent on closely reading and contemplating the inspirational thinkers Henry David Thoreau, Rudolf Steiner and L.L. Nunn, and considering the implications of their writing on higher education today. Immersed in communal living, the fellows created a cooperative environment, working through conflicts to develop shared values. Over the course of the year they shared evening meals, worked with a carpenter to refinish the attic, and created a culture of care and respect for their home. Fellows engaged deeply with the local community, teaching at the local high school and elementary school, coaching hockey, tutoring students, assisting at the local radio station and operating a winter greens share. During the final months, the fellows developed plans for the next program and two of the fellows joined the Thoreau College leadership to stay on as staff for Growing Seasons.


Established in 2020, Thoreau's Garden is a greenhouse in Viroqua, Wisconsin run by students and faculty of Thoreau College. During the fall, students spent labor time repairing and re-roofing the greenhouses so they could be properly used again. We have three greenhouses offering a variety of plants such as flowers, winter greens, house plants, microgreens, and more. Thoreau fellows Sarah, Corinne, and Kaity currently run the greenhouse with faculty member Arwyn Wildingway.  To learn more and see what's available from Thoreau's Garden today, visit the Thoreau’s Garden website.