Collaboration Is the Key: A Dancing Rabbit Update

This week brought the sweet relief of cooler temperatures and less humidity, although still not enough rain to keep my cucumbers happy without supplemental watering. In truth, I don’t really mind watering the garden, as it gives me some precious moments to contemplate the progress of the plants and to think about where and how I will expand the garden next year. Melany here, noting the juxtaposition of wishing for more rain and enjoying the meditative practice of watering and watching plants grow.

The truth is, I have done something this year that I don’t usually do when it comes to gardens: I started small. I often rush headlong into pulling and digging up huge swaths of weeds and grass, spending hours preparing row after row of garden beds. I have been known to start indoor seedlings by the dozen, not possibly being able to choose between zucchini, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, and broccoli (and the list goes on). Surely, I should grow them all. My family eats them all. And there are just SO MANY seeds in one package, why would I just plant a few of them?

Hazel and Willow collaborate in the garden. Photo by Melany

But, do you know what usually happens about one month into the growing season? I get overwhelmed, I get frustrated, I get busy. I realize that I can’t possibly keep up with the weeds, the watering, or the successive plantings so carefully planned out when it was still cold outside, and the garden was still a dream. So then, I become more like a renegade gardener. I stop by every so often to survey the ever-growing jungle and I say to myself, “Oh my, is that an actual watermelon growing?” or “Tomatoes! We have a few red, juicy, beautiful tomatoes … if only I could reach them.”

Now that I’m in my second decade of gardening, I’ve learned a couple of things. You can either get help or start small. I’ve chosen to start small with my garden this year, but at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, there are plenty of people who garden collaboratively, and even those who don’t can still organize a work-party to get help when they need it. This is one of the many ways that coming together offers much better results than going it alone.

I enjoy the small, daily tasks required to keep my garden growing well, but I also want to put up food for my family for the winter. This means that I rely on my neighbors at Sandhill Farm for a bi-weekly CSA. This week’s offering includes a combination of my choice of any of these veggies: carrots, beets, collards, kale, basil, onion, green beans, summer squash, and green cabbage! It feels great knowing that I don’t have to do it all myself, the pressure is off, and I can support some of my friends in their gardening endeavors.

This past week, Christina hosted students from the Riverfield Country Day School. Ten high school students and two chaperones learned about consensus decision-making, food systems, sustainable technology, and I even heard a rumor they got up close and personal with Dancing Rabbit’s humanure composting toilet system.

There are so many ways we come together at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and at our nonprofit organization, the Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture (CSCC). I love that our education and outreach programs show students, visitors, work-exchangers, and program participants all the different ways that collaboration creates something beyond what we could accomplish alone.

For me, collaboration and partnership are key to our future as a species. We can’t do it all and we can’t know it all. We need to work together, pool our resources and our collective wisdom, and find our way out of the mess our planet is in.

Because of this belief, we have started the Sustainability Partner Program, where people can support the Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture and its workshops and internships through recurring donations. By simply making a recurring donation, you take a stand and choose to heal our planet and our future. Every dollar makes a big difference in what our nonprofit can accomplish throughout the year. Becoming a core supporter in this way allows us to maximize the impact of our programs and reach even more people with our message that living sustainably is truly possible.

I leave you with the words of Mother Teresa, “None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”

Want to see what living cooperatively is really like? Come visit us this year to get a glimpse into how we live and how you can incorporate these practices into your own life. There is only one Sustainable Living Visitor Program sessions left and several more workshops happening between now and October, how will you choose to get involved?


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