On a chilly January morning in 2007, a group of eight friends––including Buck and Cathy Cochran and Tim and Susan Elliott––met at the Grove Park Inn to dream about a brighter future for people with disabilities. The Cochran’s and Elliott’s have children of their own with intellectual and developmental disabilities and found community with each other imagining a place where people of all abilities could live in relationship, work together, and support one another.
Susan Elliott presided over this first Peacehaven meeting, sharing her story as a parent of a child with a disability. Gail Haworth, who later led our first board, remembers, “Susan had the passion and concrete ideas to support her dreams not only for developing the farm but also enabling us to envision the home that would provide a place for special-needs residents to live and perhaps develop their own dreams.”
By the end of that first meeting, Buck recalled, “We knew we were all in, even though the exact path ahead was not very clear.” They named this dream Peacehaven Community Farm.
Two years later in 2009, Peacehaven found a permanent home on 89-acres of rolling hills, pastures and woodland in Whitsett. We began hosting community work days to live out the social good of sharing the work of gardening with people with and without disabilities. Cathy Cochran remembers, “Coming over the hill on the first workday in the fall of 2009, it took my breath away. . . It was just amazing . . .”
To this day, we continue to gather in the gardens on Saturday workdays––growing relationships and vegetables.
In 2014, Peacehaven fulfilled Susan’s vision of opening an affordable supportive-living home for adults with disabilities. The home was fittingly named “Susan’s View.” Currently four adults with disabilities––our Core Members––and three resident assistants reside there. The residents of Susan's View live in a family-style environment where they support, accompany, and care for one another throughout the events of daily life.
Looking towards the future, Peacehaven plans to build additional homes for adults with disabilities as well as a community center to continue Susan Elliott’s vision.
If you would like to learn more, Susan Elliott shared her initial dreams for Peacehaven in this email to Buck in April 2007.