Notes from Windward: #62

The Summer Update

Belated greetings:

I tried a number of time to get out a winter update, but it just never came together. One of our founding members, Bob1, suffered a massive heart attack and died in his sleep in October, and while coping with the personal loss, I just wasn't able to psych myself up to chat about our projects as usual. Still, life moves ever on and with the coming of summer, it's time to fill you in on Windward's latest projects and plans.

The most exciting thing to report involves the progress on the new dining hall. We realized last summer that we wouldn't have the time and funds needed to finish the entire slab and roof before winter set in, so we elected to focus on the eastern three/fifths of the building. There's a wall that crosses half of the dining hall at that point, so it make a convenient place to add a temporary wall so that work could continue on the interior once winter set in.

Installing tile in the kitchen
Over the winter, Brad headed up the task of installing and finishing the sheet rock, (no small task given the shape of the ceiling and the five sky lights) painting the interior and installing heavy duty shelving for storing food preserved in heavy glass containers. Folks often ask if we're striving to grow all our own food, not realizing that the daunting problem isn't one of production, but rather one of processing and storage. No such thing as too much shelving in a kitchen.

Sarava did a marvelous job cleaning and restoring a used stainless steel vent hood to go over the commercial range, and I've been working on installing a massive 6 foot long cast-iron and enamel sink on a 12' tile counter top in the "mud room." The kitchen is so well insulated that the wood stove had no problem heating the building even on those dark, cold January mornings.

The kitchen's been an adventure as much as a construction project since we're incorporating as much renewable and passive technology as we can, while making sure that the building will pass muster as a commercial kitchen. When licensed as such, our folks will be able to prepare food and baked goods for sale to the public.

Michael putting in the grey water line
Over the years, we've come up with a series of specialty items that could be marketed as a way for folks living here to generate personal income - Windward favorites such as zucchini pickles, concord jam, goat-milk fudge and cherry-crumb pie. All that's been lacking is the necessary facilities, so it's exciting to see that resource finally coming together.

With spring comes the annual push to bring more garden space into production. We located our structures on sloped land that had little to no fertility to start with. In order to transform the soil, we penned our sheep and goats in the locations where we wanted to ultimately have gardens, with the result that those former pens have some of the most luxurious loam you could ask for.

Tara's taken over the kitchen garden this year, and in addition is planning on doing a test patch of some thirty blueberry plants in the perennial garden area we're developing uphill from the dining hall. Elsewhere on the gardening front, Terri has taken charge of one of the old goat pen gardens and is focusing on combination plantings such as "the three sisters" corn, beans and squash.

Bob1 really liked fresh fruit, so we've acquired some cherry, apricot and plum trees to plant in his memory. Instead of scattering his ashes around Windward, we'll use them to enrich the soil when we plant the fruit trees. It would have been great if we could have gotten on with the planting of fruit trees sooner, but so it goes.

We'll keep wintering the sheep in the main garden area, since that's a whole lot better than having to haul a winter's worth of muck to the garden, but we need more space for them to stretch out and graze. Glen is installing fence to create a two acre pen behind the hay barn. It encompasses lots of trees and sloped ground, so the new space will provide summer shade and dry footing during the wet season.

Well, enough for now. Just wanted you to know that we're doing fine and getting on with the tasks at hand.

more later, Walt