The Voluntown Peace Trust (VPT) is a nonprofit educational center and retreat dedicated to social change and sustainable living, occupying 57 acres in southeastern Connecticut near New London. It provides hospitality and resources to “people constructing alternatives to the violence of our age” and serves as the home of the Cooperative for Nonviolent Action (CNVA), a coalition of grassroots groups that use the VPT facilities for workshops, trainings, and events; the Summer Program for Urban Youth, a camp run by Hartford Catholic Worker (HCW); and Land Stewards, a group that maintains the property’s gardens, fields, and forest and offers instruction in organic agriculture and horticulture.
The farm was originally purchased in 1962 to be the home of CNVA, who numbered among its members peace activists and land trust pioneers Bob and Marjorie Swann. CNVA built a conference center and purchased the adjacent Camp Ahimsa and then in 1993 transferred the property to Equity Trust to carry out the work of “nonviolent economics”. Equity Trust renovated the farmhouse and made other improvements and after Chuck Matthei’s passing, sold the property back to a reformulated Voluntown Peace Trust in 2004.
Equity Trust’s 2014 Francis Fund loan refinances the remainder of VPT’s mortgage at a lower rate, enabling them to devote more of their revenues to establish a capital reserve and better steward the grounds and buildings. Improved facilities and expanded capacity promise to make the VPT land more in demand by local groups and individuals seeking a gathering place from which to pursue social, environmental, and economic justice goals.
Affirming the shared history of the Voluntown Peace Trust and Equity Trust at this site, the VPT board has committed to partnering with Francis Fund members to explore the development of Swann/Matthei-style land preservation in southeastern Connecticut.