Saturday, May 3, 2014

Milkweed Mercantile Tent and Breakfast: Camping at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

For reservations, please call 660-883-5522

The Milkweed Mercantile is offering an exciting new option: Camping at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage!

Until now, camping has not been available for folks interested in a short visit* to Dancing Rabbit (unless they are part of an educational group program). Our village simply does not yet have the infrastructure to enable you to cook, wash dishes, shower, and poop without heavily impacting the lives and resources of those who already live here.

However, we’re delighted to have found a compromise between traditional camping and a full bed & breakfast stay. By camping in our campground and using the Milkweed Mercantile for meals showers and toilets you will pay almost 50% less than a stay in a room will cost. We’ll even include an organic chocolate for you to put on your own pillow.

True, you will not be able to cook your own meals. But there are several upsides of dining at the Mercantile:
  • The Mercantile offers vegan, vegetarian and omnivore options.
  • With ample notice, the Mercantile will also work with other food requirements (celiacs, etc.)
  • You will eat great meals produced from locally sourced  produce (and meat, if you eat it)
  • You’ll be directly supporting members Dancing Rabbit – the staff at the inn, farmers and gardeners
  • You’ll get to join members of Dancing Rabbit and other guests for meals, and will have the opportunity to make great connections and ask lots of questions.

These camping packages are only available 2nd and 4th weekends of each month. A free tour of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is offered on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays at 1:00 p.m.. See below for dates.

The Milkweed Mercantile Tent and Breakfast Plan
  • Rental for 1 person - $60 PER NIGHT ($120/weekend, includes 4 meals)
  • Rental for 2 persons (in the same tent, on the same tent platform) - $85 PER NIGHT ($170/weekend, includes 4 meals each for 2 people)
  • Cost for children when sleeping in the same tent as adults: 
    • baby to age 2... free
    • age 3-12... additional $10 per night
    • age 13-15... additional $15 per night
    • age 16 and up...additional $25 per night
NOTE: only one tent is allowed per tent platform. All tents MUST be on a platform.

  • Rental of tent platform in campground
  • Dinner on the evening of your arrival - 3-course organic, local dinner, served in the climate-controlled, straw-bale Mercantile dining room. Dine with other guests and members of Dancing Rabbit.
  • Breakfast on Saturday morning- Organic, local, made-to-order breakfast
  • Use of Mercantile toilet
  • Use of Mercantile shower
  • Tour of Dancing Rabbit at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday (2nd and 4th Saturdays ONLY)
The Fine Print:
  • You supply your own tent, sleeping gear and towels
  • Please be prepared for rain and wind.
  • Tent must fit on a tent platform (approximately 8' x 10')
  • ABSOLUTELY no cooking allowed in campground
  • Coolers are OK, but ice is not available at DR. (Ice may be purchased at Zimmerman’s store in Rutledge).
  • Guests may not use the Mercantile kitchen (the fridge is also not available for guest use).
  • No laundry facilities available
  • Two night maximum, listed dates only
*If you are interested in a visit of 1-3 week visits, please read about Dancing Rabbit’s Visitor Program here.

For reservations or questions, please call 660-883-5522 or email

Cancellation: One half of total due at time of reservation; balance due upon check-in. Full refund (less $20 accounting fee) returned with a full 7 days notice. Less than 7 days notice for a cancellation will result in loss of deposit.

Some of the tent platforms in the Campground at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. Photos were taken May 1st - the leaves were just beginning to come out. Typically in the summer it is fairly shady in the campground.

 One of the tent platforms. Sizes are approximately 8' x 10'.

 Path from the campground to the Mercantile (past the Old Pond).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Announcing Milkweed Mercantile Sustainability Seminars

We’ve received many requests from guests for opportunities to interact with and get to know members of Dancing Rabbit, and to learn more about what we’re doing here. Rabbits enjoy this too – the enthusiasm and energy that guests bring help us remember why we’re doing what we’re doing!

The challenging part is to find a way to do this without overwhelming Rabbits, who have very little spare time and often already feel that they live in a fish bowl.

Our solution? We’ve created a learning/social experience which brings together members of Dancing Rabbit, Milkweed Mercantile guests, a great meal, excellent conversation and some hands-on activity. The members who are participating have chosen a topic about which they are most passionate, and are excited to share it with you!

The Details:
Each Milkweed Seminar focuses on a different aspect of sustainability and/or life here at DR. All Milkweed Seminars begin with dinner at the Milkweed Mercantile on Friday evening with a member of Dancing Rabbit. You and your “instructor” will have the opportunity to talk and connect in a relaxed atmosphere over great (we hope) food. Most of the Eco-experiences also include a 1½ hour session on Saturday morning which provides additional information and/or hands-on opportunities.

Reserve your personal seminar when you make your room reservation at the Mercantile.Call (660)883-5522 for reservations. Click here for more information on the Milkweed Mercantile.

PLEASE NOTE: Milkweed Seminars are currently only available on Friday evenings/Saturday mornings. All Saturday sessions will end in time for the 1:00 tour of Dancing Rabbit. Availability is dependent upon (and limited to) the schedules of participating Rabbits. A minimum of two weeks notice is preferred.

So. What aspect of sustainability would you like to explore?

With Meadoe Carleton
Friday dinner, and Saturday 9:30 – 11: 00 a.m.

To live closely in community, as we do here at Dancing Rabbit, most of us have had to learn more effective ways to communicate. We have found that the dynamic communication techniques of Nonviolent Communication offer practical and powerful skills which emphasize personal responsibility for our actions and the choices we make when we respond to others. You'll learn simple tools to defuse arguments and create compassionate connections with your family, friends, and other acquaintances, as well as how to contribute to relationships based in cooperation and collaboration, and can transform potential conflicts into peaceful dialogues.

$68 includes Friday dinner for you and your instructor, plus 1 ½ hours of discussion and/or instruction on Saturday morning.

With Ted Sterling
Friday dinner, and Saturday 9:30 – 11: 00 a.m.

Depending upon your interests, you may explore:
  • Conservation is step one; evaluating and minimizing consumption.
  • Meeting your energy needs by living in a way that is appropriate to place and using what is most abundant.
  • Low/no power options: Passive solar. Gravity-fed water. Solar ovens. Root cellars.
  • Power production: solar, wind, hydro, biomass, etc. Ecological costs of
    power production and consumption.
  • Battery/storage Systems. Distribution, off-grid tech. Portable power.
    Scale: Choosing system voltage and parameters to meet planned needs.
    Grid-tie vs. off-grid.
  • Off-grid water- collection, storage, management.
$68 includes Friday dinner for you and your instructor, plus 1 ½ hours of discussion and/or instruction on Saturday morning.

With Mae Ferber
Friday dinner, and EARLY Saturday a.m.

Some of the most popular creatures at Dancing Rabbit aren’t people at all – they’re the chickens, ducks and goats being raised by the Critter Collective. Over dinner with Mae you can expect to learn about small scale layer flock management (think chickens and ducks) and/or small ruminant management (think goats and sheep). Depth and detail is up to you, depending upon your level of interest.

Then, Saturday morning, join Mae as she makes her morning rounds; milking, feeding everyone, gathering eggs and making sure all is right in the animal world.

Possible Poultry topics:
  • chickens in the city
  • starting off with day old chicks
  • predator proof housing
  • alternative feeding ideas
  • heritage breeds 
Possible Ruminant topics:
  • predator control
  • fencing
  • pasture and brush management
  • breeding/milking
  • seasonal differences in care 
$68 includes Friday dinner for you and your instructor, plus 1 ½ hours of discussion and/or instruction on Saturday morning

With Hassan Hall
Friday dinner, and Saturday 9:30 – 11: 00 a.m.

Natural buildings are both user-friendly and beautiful! Join one of our builders for some conversation and a little hands-on experience. Over dinner you'll discuss both theory and practice of different phases of construction. On Saturday morning, you’ll take a deeper look at some of the building techniques used here at Dancing Rabbit, and, weather permitting, you’ll get some time getting your hands dirty. We cannot guarantee that the technique you’re most interested in will be available (cob, strawbale, natural plaster, earth bags) but we can guarantee some good conversation, a chance to have questions answered and the opportunity to work up a good sweat!

$68 includes Friday dinner for you and your instructor, plus 1 ½ hours of discussion and/or instruction on Saturday morning

With Sharon Bagatelle or Dennis Hoffarth
Friday dinner and Saturday 9:30 – 11: 00 a.m.

Transform your home and yard into a fun and practical part of a more ecological world!
This workshop focuses on how to meet your own food, water and energy needs at the very local level -- your own home and/or neighborhood. We’ll look at some of the “big ideas” in sustainable living -- what does “sustainable” mean, reducing resource consumption, reusing resources, using renewable and local resources – and apply them to real life changes in lifestyle. You can choose to explore one of the areas – food, water, or energy – and we’ll guide you through potential actions you can take at home, with lots of supportive resources. Depending on the chosen topic, the workshop may also include short hands-on demonstrations or projects.

$68 includes Friday dinner for you and your instructor, plus 1 ½ hours of discussion and/or instruction on Saturday morning,

With Sharon Bagatelle or Dennis Hoffarth
Friday dinner and Saturday 9:30 – 11: 00 a.m.
The workshop will cover:
1) What is Permaculture?
2) Some Permaculture design principles
3) Applying the principles: creating integrated home systems to meet shelter, energy, food, and water
needs as locally, sustainably, and economically as possible
4) A “wild design” – using an example from a participant’s home, we’ll do a quick visionary retrofit
$68 includes Friday dinner for you and your instructor, plus 1 ½ hours of discussion and/or instruction on Saturday morning.

With Dan Durica
Friday dinner, and Saturday 9:30 – 11: 00 a.m.

Learn to reduce your dependence on fossil fuel by using alternative cooking methods used by many members of Dancing Rabbit. Included are solar ovens, pressure cookers, hotboxes, wood stoves and electric induction cooktops. Other topics covered are grilling with wood, eating raw and eating local. Surprisingly easy, and always delicious!

$68 includes Friday dinner for you and your instructor, plus 1 ½ hours of discussion and/or instruction on Saturday morning.

With Tony “Bear” Barrett
Friday dinner, and Saturday 9:30 – 11: 00 a.m.

Dancing Rabbit is the home to many alternative buildings, and we’ve learned a lot over the years. Are you curious about what exactly is “green” construction? How about the difference between “alternative” and conventional construction? Join one of DR’s builders to discuss and examine these and other construction ideas. Depending on your interest, also covered will be:
  • How most conventional buildings are put together
  • Principles of quality design (passive solar, super-insulation, thermal mass, etc.)
  • Basics of building science (thermal bridging, movement of moisture, etc.)
  • The balance between air-tightness and ventilation
  • Considering the ecological footprint of materials
  • Overview of certification programs (passivehaus, LEED,Living Building Challange)
  • Tour of buildings (specific to how they relate to this discussion).
$68 includes Friday dinner for you and your instructor, plus 1 ½ hours of discussion and/or instruction on Saturday morning.

With Sara Peters
Friday dinner, and Saturday 9:30 – 11: 00 a.m.

 Explore the culture, harvesting, and manufacture of herbs and herbal products for home use. Contents of workshop will vary depending upon your interests, Sara’s skills and knowledge, and the availability of herbs and other materials.
Possible topics include:

  • Sara’s background in working with herbal medicines.
  • Introduction to wellness and healing through herbs, including cautions.
  • Culture of herbs - wild harvesting, growing and harvesting your own, essential oils, purchasing from reputable sources
  • Common herbal remedies and their uses
  • Processing herbs and making herbal preparations - including making teas, tinctures, healing oils and salves
  • An herbal preparation project to take home
  • Resource recommendations for further study 
$68 includes Friday dinner for you and your instructor, plus 1 ½ hours of discussion and/or instruction on Saturday morning

With Alline Anderson
Friday dinner, and Saturday 9:30 – 11: 00 a.m.

Are you a business owner looking to make your business more sustainable, green and socially responsible? Perhaps you’re looking to start a business and would like to bounce your ideas off someone? Alline is the co-owner of and visionary behind the Milkweed Mercantile. Her 30 years of retail and customer service experience, ranging from department stores to Clif Bar to the Sierra Club, combined with her 15 years of exploring green living at Dancing Rabbit, gives her a unique perspective on earning a living in a way that supports rather than harms our planet.

$68 includes Friday dinner for you and your instructor, plus 1 ½ hours of discussion and/or instruction on Saturday morning

(aka the secrets that make baking EASY!)
With Alline Anderson
Friday dinner, and Saturday 9:30 – 11: 00 a.m.

Are your biscuits flatter than the proverbial pancake? Are your cookies like rocks, your cakes like doorstops? Is your kitchen legacy "let's call for take-out, kids"? It may be time to join Alline, owner of the Mercantile and baking fanatic, for an hour and a half that will change your life. Learn the secrets that only come by years of trial and error (and lots of really bad baking!) in a friendly, hands-on, encouraging atmosphere. Best yet - you get to eat what you've learned, and you'll go home with some of Alline's best recipes.

$68 includes Friday dinner for you and your instructor, plus 1 ½ hours of discussion and/or instruction on Saturday morning

TO REGISTER FOR ANY SEMINAR: When you make your room reservation please let us know which seminar you would like to take part in. You can reach us at (660) 883-5522.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Milkweed Mercantile Eco Inn Seeks Culinary Assistant & Baker

Milkweed Mercantile Organic Cafe Internship
Culinary Assistant and Baker
April 8 – October 31,  2014
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.

To apply or to ask questions please email alline at com. PLEASE put "internship" in the subject line to keep your email from ending up in the spam file.

Mini cupcakes decorated with wild violets.
  • 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 (see photos). 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 full responsibility of 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, hang-out 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.
One of the Mercantile's Canning Workshops

  • You will 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.
  • Maintain a clean, neat, sanitary and orderly kitchen - EVERYONE washes dishes.
  • 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.
Every Thursday is Pizza Night! The crust on our pizzas is made from scratch and are topped with homemade mozzarella and fresh herbs. Yum!
  • 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

  • Helping with ANY food-related project, including: seasonal (ingredient-driven) 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…
  • Washing dishes, pots and pans
  • Keeping the kitchen spotless
  • Working with local farmers, gardeners, beekeepers and other food producers
  • Foraging for wild seasonal ingredients
  • Waiting/busing tables
  • Menu planning
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, plus 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.
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.
 Kurt, Alline and some of 2012's interns and work exchangers.

About the Milkweed Mercantile staff:
Kurt Kessner and Alline Anderson arrived at Dancing Rabbit in June 1999. After building a house they launched the next part of their Dancing Rabbit Dream – the Milkweed Mercantile. Inspired to build the Mercantile as a way to support themselves and to help Dancing Rabbit grow, construction began in 2007. The Inn opened in April 2010.

Alline, with a background in customer service and retail (but whose all-time favorite job remains camp counselor) manages the day to day operations of the Mercantile. Inspired by fabulous ingredients, she takes great joy in feeding, hosting and nurturing others. She never met a baked good that she didn’t like, and is enjoying learning more about foraged foods. In her spare time she reads fanatically, hangs out with Kurt, and is thinking about entering a 12-step program for Dr. Pepper.
Kurt is the easy-going designer/carpenter/contractor responsible for the physical manifestation of the Milkweed Mercantile. Trained, as a carpenter as well as a marriage and family counselor, he is happiest when he is building something or teaching someone else how to build something. He also enjoys a great beer, great food and great conversation. He is delighted to spend time at the Mercantile, where all three are in plentiful supply.

Please explore  before applying. Additional photos may be viewed here:

TO APPLY or to ask questions please email alline at com. PLEASE put "internship" in the subject line to keep your email from ending up in the spam file.
Saturday Lunch service at the Mercantile

Friends hanging out at the bar  (at last count - 32 kinds of beer)

The Mercantile provides meals for seminars held at Dancing Rabbit. 
Above: buffet lunch awaits participants (open kitchen in background). 
Below: seminar participants relaxing after lunch.

The Milkweed Mercantile and Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage receive a lot of media attention. 
Here, Mizzou journalism students documenting Alline cooking.
A birthday party for folks from the wider community.