THE HARMONY INSTITUTE
Before there was the Town of Harmony in east Osceola County, Florida there was the Harmony Institute, a non-profit charitable organization that provided the inspiration for the community. Founded in 1996 by Martha E. Lentz, a former director of the SPCA of Central Florida, the Institute was created to promote human-health and well-being through the interaction of people, animals and the environment by creating an environment for the study of these interactions.
The Institute was named in memory of Martha’s mother, Margaret Harmony Eastman, who encouraged her family’s respect and involvement with nature and animals; something that had been instilled in her by her father George W. Harmony of Live Oak, Florida.
This inspiration of a community environment designed to accommodate and encourage the interactions of residents with nature and animals as part of their daily routines was the incentive for the development of the Town of Harmony on an 11,000 acre parcel formerly known as the Triple E Ranch.
The newly formed Harmony Development Company, a privately owned company comprised of partners Three E Corporation and the Arthur J. Gallagher Company, put together a design team to work with the Harmony Institute’s team of research advisors in creating the land design, environmental features and animal amenities. At that time, the Harmony Development Company pledged a gift of 100 acres to the Harmony Institute in consideration of the Institute’s contribution to designing the community.
In 2003 the first residents of Harmony moved in and, shortly thereafter, the Institute began to build “Spirit Farm” on the 100-acre property it had received from the Harmony Development Company. For many years “Spirit Farm” offered children of all ages the opportunity to explore nature and interact with animals in a miniature version of an old Osceola town with Ray’s Hardware, Red’s Saloon and Dance Hall and Clyde’s General Store along with an array of farm animals to enjoy. The Institute sold its property in 2014. Now owned by Starwood Capital, the Harmony Development Company and the Harmony Institute exist as completely independent and self-governing organizations. The Institute is not funded by the development company and the use of the Harmony family name was chosen as it also serves to exemplify the environment of the community.