Onions, carrots, lettuces, collards, cabbages, broccoli, and potatoes were planted out during the first week of April. Each year, we do our best to grow more of our own food and reduce our reliance on store bought goods. Last year, we successfully grew, harvested, and stored enough potatoes to last our entire community for about four months (potatoes are a major staple food at East Wind). We’ve planted even more this year, and hope to supply community with homegrown potatoes for over six months.
Parsley, dill, oregano, fennel, elecampane, calendula, valerian, marjoram, spilanthes, marsh mallow, hollyhock, hyssop, and hibiscus, among others, were transplanted from our greenhouse into our herb gardens this month. Chamomile, cilantro, and oatstraw were direct seeded and have begun to sprout and grow. Comfrey, lemon balm, valerian, feverfew, rose, and marsh mallow, among others, have broken dormancy and sprouted fresh green growth. The season’s first harvests of yarrow, violet, chickweed, cleavers, tarragon, and thyme have already been brought in and dried. Our new Mulberry Garden has expanded in all directions, and this promises to be its best year yet.
Peach trees were among the first to flower and have been pruned. Apple trees flowered later this April. In the woods, carolina buckthorn, elms, and ashes were among the first trees to leaf out, and by the end of April few trees remained bare. Dogwoods bloomed during the last week of April, dotting the understory with enchanting white blossoms. The forest is green and vibrant and unabashedly full of life. The rains have been frequent and plentiful. Many days have been warm and sunny, though the nights are still often cold and wet. A few late frosts have done some damage to our spring crops and fruit trees, and another cold snap is expected during the first week of May. Because of this, we will be holding off on planting some of our warm season crops like tomatoes and cucumbers until later this May. Even so, spring is undeniably here at last.
Largest Black Gum Tree in Missouri
The largest registered blackgum tree in the state of Missouri lives at East Wind. The tree was nominated recently, after the previous state champion of 30 years fell to strong winds in August 2012. The Missouri Department of Conservation came out and took measurements of the tree, and have verified that it is the largest known blackgum in the state. The tree stands 92 ft tall and has a circumference of 129 inches and a crown spread of 46 ft. East Wind is home to a number of very large and beautiful sycamores, oaks, elms, cedars, and pines. The champion blackgum resides on our New Land, a 700 acre wooded plot set aside by East Wind as a wildlife reserve and nature sanctuary. We practice sustainable forestry on the land as well.
Delegates from the five communities that make up the Federation of Egalitarian Communities met at East Wind this April to hold an annual conference. Delegates from Twin Oaks, Acorn, Sandhill, The Midden (a community-in-dialogue), and Emma GoldmanFinishing School participated in the week-long conference. East Wind welcomed the delegates from our sister communities, and many individuals were happy to make new friends and hear about life in other communities. Many of us who live communally believe that a strong network of communities is fundamental, and are happy to have the chance to strengthen our relationships with like-minded individuals and groups of people. A strong network of communities presenting viable alternatives to the mainstream culture can help to change people’s lives and make the world a better place.
LEXers from Twin Oaks and Acorn
Ten individuals from Twin Oaks and Acorn spent a week at East Wind in late April. Communities in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities participate in a labor exchange program that allows members of each community to spend time working at other FEC communities. East Winders were happy to host guests from our sister communities, and many of us were glad to spend time with old friends and to make new friends. LEXers were ready and willing to help out around community, and their hard work in our garden and our businesses, among other things, is much appreciated. The LEXers were a lovely bunch of folks, and we hope that they enjoyed being here as much as we enjoyed having them here.
Although there is occasionally a sense of sibling rivalry between the communities, we love our sister communities and appreciate the relationship we have with them and the fact that they exist. Folks from other communities are always welcome to come spend some time at ours (just let us know that you’re coming first). Thank you to everyone who lives communally with the intention of creating a better way of life!
The land we call home offers abundant resources to East Winders willing to use their resourcefulness and ingenuity. Materials for our current natural building project (a stone/cob table and benches in our new gazebo in our new garden space, the Mulberry Garden) are being sustainably harvested from our own land. Clay, stone, sand, and straw are the essential ingredients for our table and benches, and are all readily available in abundance. Our gazebo roof has been completed, along with a beautiful stone floor and steps. The gazebo will soon be surrounded by a lovely nervine herb garden (herbs for the mind, such as valerian, chamomile, holy basil, rose, lemongrass, borage, lemon balm, hops, passionflower, etc). As soon as the danger of a frost has passed, we will begin mixing cob and constructing the table. There has been a lot of interest in helping out with this project in community, and we hope that this will inspire future natural building projects.
Waiting List Continues to Grow
The waiting list continues to grow with no end in sight. Some potential members have now been waiting for over six months for rooms to open up. Even so, six more individuals are scheduled to participate in the May visitor period. Individuals on the waiting list are welcome to camp out during the warmer months, but will be asked to leave during the winter until more space opens up. We’ve heard that many of our sister communities are experiencing similar situations. Hopefully this demand for communal living will inspire the creation of more intentional communities and other alternative ways of life. There are many forming communities looking for members, as well. You can find out more information about established and forming intentional communities at ic.org.