Culinary Assistant and Baker
April 8 – October 31, 2014

Mercantile by Joanna Simeone

Become an integral part of the Milkweed Mercantile, a strawbale, solar & wind-powered Eco Inn and Organic Café located at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. You will have a huge impact upon the lives of our guests, plus have the opportunity to learn more about sustainable living and, of course, yourself.

The Milkweed Mercantile is a privately owned business created by Dancing Rabbit members Alline and Kurt. Designed as a bridge between the ecovillage and the wider community, the Mercantile provides delicious local and seasonal meals, comfortable rooms at reasonable rates, and sustainability seminars. The Mercantile serves as a living demonstration of the comfort and beauty of sustainability, and is quickly becoming the social hub of the community.

  • The Milkweed Mercantile Eco Inn serves meals to seminar/workshop participants, pizza every Thursday, lunch on Saturday when Dancing Rabbit gives public tours, and brunch on Sunday. We also provide a steady stream of baked goods to keep everyone happy.
  • The design of our kitchen is open, which means that guests will engage you in conversation. If you are a confirmed introvert this position may not be for you.
  • The menu and recipes have been created by (Mercantile owner) Alline – your creativity is welcome but all changes must be pre-approved.
  • Successful applicants do not have to have specific cook experience already, as we will train you to prepare and serve meals in our style. HOWEVER you must be comfortable in a commercial kitchen and be ready to eventually take on responsibility of helping with breakfast service.
  • Our goal: the smooth running of the Mercantile while conveying the eco-ethic of Dancing Rabbit and its members AND making sure our guests are comfortable, well-fed, and treated respectfully.
  • No housing is provided – most work exchangers/interns camp. However, you will have access to all Mercantile amenities – wifi, showers, toilets, hangout space. Your meals will be eaten with the Mercantile staff eating cooperative. You will have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of life at Dancing Rabbit, including social events, potlucks, swimming in the ponds, learning new communication skills, rotational chores, and much, much more. Plus, you’ll eat really, really well.


Kurt, Alline, and some of 2012's interns and work exchangers.

Kurt, Alline, and some of 2012’s interns and work exchangers.

  • Assist in planning and preparing delicious meals for guests – on time, with fresh local organic ingredients, in keeping with Mercantile standards and in accordance to dietary needs of guests.
  • Assist in preparing baked goods – biscuits, muffins, cinnamon rolls, cookies, cakes, pies – to be served at the Mercantile.
  • Assist in preparing and preserving jams, jellies and pickled vegetables that will be sold at the Mercantile.
  • Washing dishes, pots and pans
  • Maintain a clean, neat, sanitary and orderly kitchen.
  • Keep an accurate kitchen inventory and ensure that all necessary ingredients are in stock.
  • The job entails working 35 hours a week; your schedule will involve early mornings and/or late evenings.
  • Your hours will primarily focus on the weekends, and may involve split shifts. Your days off will most likely be Tuesday and Wednesday.


  • Helping with ANY food-related project, including: seasonal (ingredientdriven) menu planning and food prep; menu planning and food prep for special diets (i.e. celiac/gluten free, lactose intolerant, etc.) and events; vegan cooking and baking techniques; preserving foods by canning and fermenting; working with yeast doughs and baked goods; making butter, sour cream, ice cream; meat grilling and barbeque; much more…
  • Keeping the kitchen spotless
  • Working with local farmers, gardeners, beekeepers and other food producers
  • Foraging for wild seasonal ingredients
  • Waiting/busing tables
  • Menu planning


Saturday Lunch service at the Mercantile

Saturday Lunch service at the Mercantile

  • Some restaurant/café cooking or baking experience, and comfort in a commercial kitchen.
  • Comfort with “specialty” diets – vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, etc. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you must be willing to cook and serve meat.
  • Professional kitchen skills, including knife skills and kitchen sanitation knowledge
  • Eagerness to assume responsibility
  • Interest in sustainability, local and organic dining, and what is happening here at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage
  • Self-starting initiative and exquisite attention to detail
  • Comfort interacting with the public, including children
  • Willingness to communicate and work through interpersonal conflict
  • You must be at least 21 (for serving alcohol)
  • Three month (minimum) availability


  • Food – All of your meals are covered. You will participate in the Mercantile staff food cooperative, which means you will be part of a rotating team of cooks. Food will be largely local and whole-foods based. Soda and alcohol are not included but may be purchased.
    Accommodations – Tenting platform provided, you provide the tent (and sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc.).
  • Your fees for use of the Community Building (primarily for social space and library). Mercantile interns may use the Mercantile showers, wifi and composting toilets.
  • Transportation: If you come to Dancing Rabbit by train or bus, we’ll pick you up at the nearest station (Quincy, IL; La Plata, MO; Ottumwa, IA) at no cost to you. Other travel to Dancing Rabbit and travel during your stay is at your expense.
  • Gratuities – A share of pooled tips.
  • Stipend – After completion of the first month interns will receive a stipend of $50 per month.



Work – approximately 35 hours a week, including cook shifts with our eating cooperative (usually one lunch and dinner each week)

Additional responsibilities – Community rotational duties which are shared by all members of the community. Included are Common House clean, humanure, Common House firewood. These tasks are in addition to your 35 hour work week.

Gear – Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc, appropriate clothing (details to be sent after you are accepted for the position).

Transportation: If you come to Dancing Rabbit by train or bus, we’ll pick you up at the nearest station (Quincy, IL; La Plata, MO; Ottumwa, IA) at no cost to you. Other travel to Dancing Rabbit and travel during your stay is at your expense.

For more information and photos click here, fill out a wexer application, and email to