The Sunflower Kingdom has again taken root in Ironweed garden, and indeed in much of the land surrounding it here at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. Ted here with the latest.
Sunflowers are native in this part of the world, and it shows: naturalized sunflowers, descended from various cultivated varieties planted by us in our garden as early as 2004, and re-planted lavishly by the local bird population each year, grow without any help from us in nearly all the cultivated space we tend.
Despite our self-impression of being ever more ruthless each year in culling volunteers before they root deeply in undesirable locations, the sunflowers in our garden every summer manage to look like a forest, with a nearly complete canopy. Last year’s champion reached a measured 17+ feet in height, thick and bony as my forearm, and there are numerous similar contenders each year; so you may understand that in our garden, with such tall, consistent cover, we often dwell in light shade from July through September when the sunflowers reign. That keeps the surface temperature lower, and gardeners happy!
When viewed more closely, it is possible to notice that the gaps in the canopy are strategic, and directly related to the presence of intentionally-cultivated plants we’re maintaining solar access for, like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, carrots, chard, and so on. Some don’t mind a little shade through the day and like the cooler ground temperatures, like the cabbages and kale, so a few sunflowers might be left in those beds. The corn and climbing beans are competitive enough to make it alongside the sunflowers, and I love to watch them vie with each other as the summer grows full.
This past week we hosted a one-week visitor session, which I had unfortunately very little time to participate in. It is times like these that I’m grateful to have lots of other community members willing to do some of the hosting when I can’t. I hope that our visitors had a good experience.
Much of the village energy last week seemed preoccupied with the extensive excavation and installation work going on. Horst Plumbing extended county water lines for us up Main St. and out to several locations radiating from town center, with Kyle directing both that and the installation of his own new rainwater cistern. Meanwhile Illly and Tony were hard at work in various locations on the latest round of laying cable and installing meters for houses to connect to our net-positive power grid, BEDR (Better Energy for Dancing Rabbit).
Progress comes with a cost, with roads and paths torn up, dirt heaped here and there, clay brought to the surface to turn to trenchant mud after the next heavy rain. In the past it has taken a few months for similar excavations to settle and return to more-or-less normal. But for those who’ve been waiting to join the power co-op, and those without running water who will now be able to access water much closer to their homes, this is a good step forward, and contributes ultimately to the continued growth of the village.
A good part of my time last week went to food preservation, starting with dilly beans and pickles. We have officially reached the time of year when the volume of produce coming in dictates that dehydrating, fermenting, and canning must be a primary task if we’d like to have a subsequent abundance in our kitchen when the snow flies and the temperature drops.
This week we’re into a first round of tomato processing. Sara just filled a dehydrator with slices, and we’re set for canning diced tomatoes tomorrow. Dan supplied us with two enormous trays full of the fruit Sunday as part of our CSA share, and soon our own will start coming in. If we’re willing to put in the time, those beautiful jars full of tomato-y goodness will smile back invitingly from the pantry shelves each time we contemplate a cook shift in winter.
At the weekend the Red Hill Rabbits (comprised of players from Red Earth, Sandhill, and Dancing Rabbit) once again journeyed down to the Show-Me State Games to compete in an Ultimate tournament with other teams from around the state. We were missing some of our more experienced players for various reasons, and though we were lucky to have some late additions to the roster, gelled as a team, and played hard, we didn’t manage to win any of our games this year. I still had a great time just being in it, and in spending some extended time off-farm with friends I often only get to see in snatches here and there.
Terra Nova, an intentional community down in Columbia, kindly hosted us once again for overnight tenting and a potluck meal. It is good to have friends in diverse locations, and the opportunity to renew connections now and again.
May your gardens be productive, and your temperatures as mild as ours this summer!
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.