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Crystal Spring

Abstract A self-sufficient project of the Kentucky Dominican Sisters, Crystal Spring is located on forty-two acres of predominantly wooded land between the southern coast of New England and the Bristol lowlands. While rooted in the Catholic Dominican tradition, Crystal Spring is an attempt to learn, live, and teach the “new story,” the epic of the unfolding Universe as revealed by contemporary science. Seeking to create a culture more in tune with this “new cosmology,” Crystal Spring endeavors to model a sustainable, bioregionally appropriate way of life that reflects and honors the interconnectedness of all things. With education as its main goal, Crystal Spring offers a variety of programs about such topics as: organic gardening, cooking, ecology, cosmology, spiritual reflection, ecofeminism, and creative arts. In addition to weekly classes and single-session programs, Crystal Spring also offers longer retreats, seasonal Earth festivals, internships for college students, and a summer day camp for children. Although it once had a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program of its own, Crystal Spring now partners with Heirloom Harvest CSA in Westboro, serving as a pick-up site for approximately fifty families. A variety of children’s and adult books pertaining to ecology, spirituality, and sustainability are sold on site at The Book Nook, and Streams, the Crystal Spring’s Earth Literacy newsletter, is circulated quarterly. In addition to its on-site projects and facilities, Crystal Spring has recently initiated the Religious Lands Conservancy Project, which assists communities of religious women throughout the state in the preservation and protection of their lands.
Religion Christianity
(Roman Catholic)
Geographic Location United States of America
(Plainville, Massachusetts)
Duration of Project 1991–Present

In 1949, the Toner family of Watertown, Massachusetts, donated sixty-four acres of land in Plainville to the Dominican Sisters of Kentucky to be used for educational purposes. At that time, Crystal Spring was a working farm. Under the Dominican Sisters, the farm has undergone a series of transformations, serving first as a primary and secondary school from the 1950s to the 1970s, and then becoming a Women’s Retreat Center in the 1980s. At the end of the 1980s, Chris Loughlin, current Director of Crystal Spring, encountered the writings of geologian Thomas Berry and met Miriam Therese MacGillis, Director of Genesis Farm. Deeply moved and inspired by the cosmological vision articulated by these two figures, she invited MacGillis to speak to the Congregational Chapter in 1992, which led to the expression of an emerging ecological awareness in the Congregational Vision Statements. In 1991, four Sisters attained permission from their congregation to start an eco-spirituality center on the Plainville site. Recovering its original name, Crystal Spring, the Sisters set out to restore the farm, even though twenty-two acres of the original parcel had been sold several years before. Right away, they started an organic garden and began offering educational programs. From the mid-1990s to 2001, Crystal Spring fostered a small Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. At the December 2001 Chapter meeting, the Congregation adopted a land ethic articulating their commitment to steward their land and then formed a Land Use Committee to oversee the implementation of this commitment. Currently, the Sisters are working on protecting and preserving not only this particular piece of land, but land held by other congregations of religious women as well. In 2002–2003, Crystal Spring launched the Religious Lands Conservancy Project, which brings together congregations of religious women in Massachusetts with land conservation groups to facilitate economically-viable and ecologically-sensitive stewardship strategies. Crystal Spring is also part of the Dominican Alliance Eco-Justice Group, a nine-congregation committee, which meets twice a year to discuss how best to influence both congregations and the Dominican Leadership Council in the area of land conservation and care.

Mission Statement “To become a living embodiment of a bioregionally appropriate culture in all respects.”
Partner Organizations The Dominican Alliance
Massachusetts Coalition of Land Trusts
Natural Resources Land Trust of Plainville
Sisters of Earth
Stonehill College
Wheaton College
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources “Notching a 'Victory' for our common home”
By Brian Fraga, Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly, October 4, 2017
Contact Information Crystal Spring
76 Everett Skinner Road
Plainville, MA 02762
Ph:       508.699.7167
Email:  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)