A Being Bending to Tend to CreationA Being Bending to Tend to Creation © Mike Horan

I’ve said before that every craftsman searches
for what’s not there to practice his craft.
A builder looks for the rotten hole
where the roof caved in.
A water-carrier picks the empty pot.
A carpenter stops at the house with no door.
Workers rush toward some hint of emptiness,
which they then start to fill.
Their hope, though, is for emptiness,
so don’t think you must avoid it.
It contains what you need!
Dear soul,
if you were not friends with the vast nothing inside,
why would you always be casting your net into it,
and waiting so patiently?

The Empty Center is a place for people to be and be together. One hundred and eighty acres full of trees, pastures, hills, ponds, and wildlife help that to happen. We offer this space in service.

Site and Facilities: Located thirty minutes from both Brattleboro, Vermont and Stratton Mountain, in the West River Valley, the Empty Center in Townshend offers an ideal setting for small retreats, events, meetings, and workshops. Beyond all the space to roam and relax in, there are three houses available for rent. The Farm House has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, as well as ample indoor meeting space and an open studio for meditation, yoga, or dance. The Garden House has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a chef’s kitchen. The Pond House is a one-bedroom cottage with a bathroom, a small kitchen, and a living/dining room. A dome yurt is also available for camping or gatherings. Meals of fresh whole foods that highlight vegetables grown here on the farm can be arranged for small groups. Meals for vegetarians, vegans or any dietary restrictions are available with advanced notice. Feel free to inquire about the possibilities.

Sorry, no pets allowed.

Eco-Friendly Practices: The Empty Center seeks to operate in harmony with nature. We use biodegradable cleaning products, no or low-VOC paints, and most of our linens and towels are organic cotton. Our fruits and vegetables are all spray free and gardened using regenerative practices. We compost and recycle and try to avoid plastic. We ask that guests help support our efforts by not bringing toxic products such as bug bombs to the property. We have a well with plenty of clean delicious water, so there is no need to bring plastic water bottles.


Rob has lived on Deer Ridge for most of his life. After 10 years of owning a small business manufacturing lighting for solar powered homes, his work is now tending to the center with great care and reverence for the land. He will be happy to show you the trails he has created around the property and his new apple and pear grafts (just beginning to bear fruit). He also makes delicious pies and tarts with all the fruits grown on the farm. He enjoys cross-country skiing through the woods and fields and playing hockey on the pond.


Eliza grew up on this land and has recently returned. She attended The French Culinary Institute and worked as a chef in New York City, spent three years traveling and living abroad, and most recently cooked with children at a school on a working farm. She has been cooking professionally for ten years, but her love of food started at an early age; she attended a culinary school for pastry and baking arts at 15 and has been cooking ever since. She is also a registered yoga teacher. She enjoys paddle boarding on the lakes, and rivers of Vermont and on her trips abroad.

 We are a father and daughter team that run the center together May – November. Eliza travels in the winter while Rob opens the Garden House to those who would like to come and enjoy the snow-blanketed land.

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