Glimpses of the Village, Part One

at farmer joe'sWHAT IS A WWOOFer?  A WWOOFer is someone who is part of the WWOOF network of volunteers exchanging their labor on organic and sustainable properties for a place to stay, food to eat, and a learning experience.  When hosting WWOOFers, we often visit other nearby farms that need a hand harvesting or planting crops.  With these tasty no-spray Jonathon apples from Farmer Joe’s we have been making dried apples, applesauce, apple cider vinegar and other tasty “value-added” foods.  No need to remove the peels on these!

Partnering with other farms gives a more expansive view of the regional food system for visitors, while also relating to Earthen Heart’s business model of sourcing bumper crops from other area farms to produce value-added products.  This will be scaled up in the years to come through use of a commercial kitchen, proper labeling and expanded partnerships with area sustainable and organic farmers.

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Lake Michigan is another nearby point of grounding.  Truly immense and captivating.

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Sometimes the hens get pretty demanding!

Maybe a little too free range around here?

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Here you see Nickolay and Irina (from Russian Republic of Sakha, Yakutsk in Siberia) traversing the trails on the back side of the property.

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Shush and Moira (from the U.K.) though your visit was short, your energy and smiles are dearly missed by myself and the girls.  Thanks for putting all that effort and positivity into the heart of this land!

895-1  Nickolay!  Thanks for the help with roto-tilling for the new garden beds, chopping wood, organizing the barn and so many other projects!

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Irina, thanks for helping pick apples and tending the herd of goats several times (with uncanny ability).  Thanks for cooking some scrumptious meals and cleaning in the kitchen!  Help like yours in the kitchen is a true blessing!

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(from top left) Irina and Nickolay, Fabio and Chloe, Guala (my mother) Papa Cardo (stepdad) Damien and Julian

Thanks also to Chloe, Damien and Fabio (from France)!  Thanks for your time and conversation during what turned out to be a brief high quality visit.  Still can’t figure out how Damien and Nic took care of that goat fencing so quickly!

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You all TRULY TRULY helped me and the girls to get a glimpse of the village.  We, at Earthen Heart, are promoting the community homestead model in a rural setting but share a greater vision with the rest of the planetary human beings now shifting towards sustainability and increased reverence for the Earth as a living organism.  Some areas I consider to be related to the earth shift:  sustainable and organic farming, permaculture, urban agriculture, suburban co-housing conversion, food hubs, green building, off-grid living, grid shift to renewables, controversial health food chefs, nutritionists and healers, outside the box teachers and home-schoolers, artists that challenge the norm or allow us to see or feel something in a new way, interfaith dialogue, multiracial and inter-generational communities, alternative currency and outside the GDP nightmare economy thinkers…

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There are many creative solution driven minds and beings out there in all realms of our globe.  Now, let’s all move to make it more harmonious and cohesive and unified.  I appreciate what you WWOOFers continue to do for us at Earthen Heart to help us manifest the village mentality and lifestyle that is often just inside my head, but exists in reality anytime we want it.  The shift to a more earth reverent, socially cohesive way is available to us now.  Most of the time it is hard to find within the current paradigm that prevails.  For this continued manifestation of the village in this setting, I continue to work and dedicate myself.  I wish I could also join many of you doing your part in other locations.  Maybe I will.  Maybe you will join us here.

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There’s our dog Ollie the Black Dog on White Snow.  He’s doing his thang!  You do your thing, in your place, in your way and combine forces with others!  If you are interested in collaborating with us by tasting some of the products we produce you can connect directly with Earthen Heart though the CSA Share offering!  $120 per share for 2014, distribution/delivery not included.  You put in requests for items from a list of likely available products.  If you buy a share, you are investing in the farm and the Earthen Heart collaboration with other farms.  You will be sharing the risks and rewards of the farm and enjoying the value added foods we create from food produced on site and nearby.  Reach out and re-enter the garden.  It is ours to enjoy.

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In Gratitude…

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Before our open house on Sunday, October 27th (2-8pm) I want to give thanks to all who have played a part, in the past 3 years, in getting Project Earthen Heart established.  Firstly, I give deep gratitude to the dual forces of Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine, Father Sky who gives us light, heat, direction. Mother Earth for the ongoing gifts she provides, the humbling degree of creative, sustaining and destructive forces she provides to maintain the cycles of regeneration .  Humbling ourselves to God, Nature, The Commons or some other force greater than our own personal ego trip is fundamental to the advancement of our species and maintaining integrity during the planetary shift that is underway.  Sometimes this means just remaining calm and finding a way to be fully present again.  Sometimes it means shaking off all the reasons why you can’t do something and getting your butt up and just doing it!

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Thanks to Palma and the five McGuires for the years we spent under one roof.   Though we are not all together now, on this property, we will always have that time together and I believe we are stronger for it.  Thanks for planting the garlic with me that first year which remains a crop we cultivate here.  Thanks for trying to make it work here.  I know you are happy in your new location and look forward to spending quality time with you all as the years pass.

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Thanks to my two daughters, Nova and Aria, for the ongoing inspiration they offer me and the ability they have to make me a better human.

Thanks to my mother, Guala; father, Raymond; stepfather, Ricardo; brother Emile and countless other family members both biological and through marriage, friendship, work and synchronicity.  Thanks for your insights, challenges, and support in this life, this endeavor.  Thanks for your guidance and love.  To be connected to fellow humans is fundamental.  Separation is the cause of suffering, love and union is the only solution.

Thanks to my neighbors.  David and family for helping with the goats and plowing.  Rafael, for tolerating the goats and chickens wandering over to his corn and blueberries.  Also for sharing of his bounty!

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Many thanks to Juan and Mary Lou for the time they spent here this past summer, especially for their help with the hens, cooking, collecting berries and making trails!

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Thanks much to the more experience local farmers:  Maynard, Lee and Laurie, Sam and many others!

Thanks to the WWOOFERs (wwoof.org) who have come and continue to come for short but meaningful and productive visits.  Daniel for sharpening knives, catching rabbits, helping in the garden and sharing meals with us!  Steve from Australia for shoveling a substantial amount of horse manure from a nearby source

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also for splitting a major pile of wood for us as the wood burning stove becomes a more substantial part of our winter heating strategy!

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Finally, thanks Australian Steve, for being there when things were a little rough and strange in my life and for helping with cleaning, cooking and other everyday important tasks!

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Thanks to Rich for your help with plumbing matters!

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Thanks to Sam for help with the attic and bathroom and general advice on direction on countless projects!

Thanks to Steve, from Ann Arbor, for your help with the goats this past summer.  Also, for your little nuggets of wisdom, some of which will save me countless hours in the future.

Thanks to those who have donated to the farm operations thus far, sometimes in exchange for goods (eggs, berries, garlic, Za’atar, file powder, preserves, etc.) and to those who will be future CSA members!

Thanks to the Law of Time and to Mankind Project for being a source of wisdom and deeper connection!

Endless gratitude to all whom I have known and loved, those I will come to know and those I will never know.  May your journey be a rich and beautiful one with many connections.  Thanks to all who have helped me with Earthen Heart in one way or another and will help in the future.  Thanks to those ecovillagers, intentional community builders, urban agriculturalists, green builders, and creators of the new way that live all across this Great Earth we share!

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I have commissioned my friend in New York, the fine artist Alison Silva, to design the imagery for Earthen Heart that will be used for the banner on the roadside and product labels and general artistic marketing.  The HeART of the eARTh is an Earthen Heart.  Tierra del Corazon.

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To have an Earthen Heart is paramount to being a citizen of our evolving community of humans.  We must push past the ignorance and the greed.  The maddening rush to obtain a moment of stasis and the pursuit of what appears to be comfort and happiness through convenience is only a means to destruction of our most sacred gift Planet Earth.

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I am glad to have lived and worked in Metropolis and I actually (unlike many of you, I know) love the cities of the world.  But, if they are to continue on as part of the human presence on earth, we must integrate nature into our cities!  Paolo Soleri envisioned Arcology as opposed to the single family home of his mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright.  Soleri offers us a glimpse of what it might look like to have dense human clusters surrounded by wilderness through Arcosanti and Cosanti in Arizona, USA.  The immediate Earthen Heart village and hyper-local community is what is most important to the project.  Urban connections, however, offer a source of income and input from the outside world that is very important.

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This artistic undertaking and collaboration with Alice is really a process of envisioning an improved future where our hearts, lives and work are dedicated to improving our place in the biosphere through art, food, community, and heightened awareness of the relationships we have with fellow humans and other plants and animals.  This can be done wherever you choose to live on the glorious lands of our Mother Earth.  Cities, towns, villages, rural areas, wilderness.  Even, I am starting to believe, in the suburbs.

Berries all over the place!

Because we don’t spray our berries, there is some loss and nuisance caused by beetles, birds, etc. But we also get lots of volunteers when birds eat the berries and poop elsewhere! We keep finding new berry bushes. The first picking is underway and, as you can see, the ripe berries are scattered on the branches. Looks like we will have a long period of time for picking. Retail orders are being filled and picking is being done by the residents of Earthen Heart.
girlsgettingberries1st pick The animal fencing situation could still use some help here. We are doing the herding/foraging nomad style which is quite interesting as it forces you to see things on their terms a bit.  However, some damage has been done to neighboring farms so our fencing strategy should receive some more attention soon!

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Solstice update, 2013

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Garlic scapes were cut over the last couple weeks and around 30 of the bulbs were pulled from the ground before last nights rain.  We are currently working on renovations of the attic space to be a media room, library and guest room.  There are several ecovillage minded folks coming in July to help plan the community building aspect of this project.  Goats are still being watched in nomadic fashion as I slowly work out some of the options with the electrical fencing.  Getting good at making yogurt, cheese and caramel with the goat milk.  Blueberry field is looking great after another round of substantial pruning and ongoing elimination of cherry, maple, sassafras and other unwanted foliage in the blueberry zone.  The experiment of wine cap mushrooms planted between the rows in wood chips has been working well.  This may be expanded upon as the mushrooms fruit at different times than the blueberries.  Rabbits are providing occasional food and pelts, hens are laying a couple dozen eggs a day and there is still goat meat in the freezer.  Mustard greens and kale are fairly bountiful and often eaten raw and tomatoes and  potatoes have volunteered in the main garden from last years left behinds.  Most of the nut and fruit trees I planted are looking promising and the existing apple trees (7 and counting) have nice big fruit growing on them.  The pruning we did during the fall and winter seems to have helped! Other plants that appear well at this point: horseradish, beets, cranberries, dill, thyme, arugula, rhubarb, prickly pear, blue dent corn…So, though there has not been much time to cultivate, till and expand the gardens, the manure keeps coming, the soil is building and the variety of crops is expanding!