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The Farmastery

Gretchen, Tim, Asa, and Aurora Foley



The Farmastery is the residential community at Spring Forest, which includes three couples and two children. We have diverse backgrounds, education, professions, gifts, and skills.

Why Farmastery? We have some things in common with a monastery: shared residential life gathered around God through a common set of spiritual practices, living in community in two houses, and making our space and our practices a welcoming and healing resource for others beyond our community. Unlike traditional monasteries, we are multigenerational and our community includes children. We also have a small farm and forest, which we care for and share with volunteers and others. The work of our farm is evolving and includes supporting refugee resettlement, the healing of trauma through shared gardening, and collaborations with churches and non-profits to provide learning experiences in natural farming and eco-spirituality. Farm + new kind of monastery = Farmastery. 


Some of our professional skills and passions include forestry, environmental toxicology, civil and mechanical engineering, farming, pastoral ministry, cooking, gardening, writing, art, pottery, leading retreats, holding space, spiritual companionship, and more. Elaine, our Abbess, is an ordained Methodist clergy and retired from Duke Divinity School, where she served as Dean. Randall is retired from a career with the county engineer's office, and brings many practical construction skills as well as culinary arts. Tim works in forestry, and Gretchen cares for their children and works on the farm. Charlie and Mary Kay are both engineers and lived in Ghana, West Africa from 2006-2017 before moving back to the States.  Charlie lectured in mathematics and computer science at Methodist University College Ghana and Ashesi University, while Mary Kay helped the Methodist Church Ghana provide water, sanitation, and other community projects in rural villages throughout the country. Charlie and Mary Kay make their home both in Houston and at Spring Forest.


All of us love the land—both farm and forest—and are committed to fostering the well being of animals, plants, soil, water, air, and humanity.


A larger, local, non-residential community also participates in the various ministries and work of Spring Forest. They, too, bring a wonderful array of gifts and insight to our community. We deeply appreciate the volunteers who assist in everything from gardens to ESL classes to retreat leadership.

We are United Methodist and we are ecumenical, welcoming guests from other faith traditions and no faith tradition. We follow and love Jesus. Our simple set of spiritual practices, (rule of life) is: Prayer, Work, Table, Neighbor. 

Our residential community includes:


Randall Bell and Elaine Heath

Tim, Gretchen, Asa, and Aurora Foley

Charlie and Mary Kay Jackson

Lilly and Dill

Gretchen, Tim, Asa, & Aurora Foley

Mary Kay & Charlie Jackson

Elaine Heath & Randall Bell



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