Monday, April 5, 2010

In Praise of Sunflower River

After less than three years, the members of the Sunflower River Community (see previous post for some photos) have created a small sanctuary of sustainable living right here on the outskirts of Albuquerque, supported by the wider Pagan community and a large circle of friends.

At Sunflower River, people truly walk their talk when it comes to living sustainably and close to the land, and the list is impressive: earth-friendly household products, composting toilets, grey-water recycling, rainwater catchment, composting, organic gardening, and thoughtful reuse and recycling of a wide variety of materials.

Raising chickens for eggs and meat, turkeys for meat, and rabbits for meat and fur, animal husbandry is another set of skills being honed at Sunflower River. Everyone here has participated in the learning curve, and the depth of knowledge being cultivated and expanded is substantial. Just last night, we all returned from a dinner out to find that a neighborhood dog had broken into the hen house, killing six hens and injuring two. We helped as we were able while the residents of Sunflower snapped into action, tending to the injured, searching for the unaccounted for, and then lovingly processing and butchering the dead in an effort to not waste anything that could be eaten or used. Luckily, none of the forty vulnerable and growing chicks were hurt in the fray, but the loss of six hens was indeed substantial.

Observing the Sunflowerians at work is impressive, and their work is informed by manual dexterity, earth-centered spirituality, compassionate communication skills, sharp intuition, and intellectual knowledge on many levels. While everyone is highly literate and skilled in areas like Information Technology, literature and other subjects, book learning and studiousness are only one aspect of the breadth of knowledge at play here. Learning by doing is certainly a fact of life on the land at Sunflower, and everything they do is simply done well.

Sunflower is obviously a very motivated and successful community that is growing intelligently and thoughtfully, with a keen eye on being debt-free, financially solvent, and highly sustainable. We feel like we've made new friends here on the edge of Albuquerque, and we look forward to watching Sunflower ripen and grow into the larger community that it is destined to become.


  1. Hi my name is Leiah and I clicked on your blog from Sunflower River. My husband and I are friends of the folks there and have a small homestead in the south valley of Alb. called Johnny's Garden.

    I've been enjoying reading about your adventures in NM particularly in the El Morro area. We own a small piece of land not far from The Ancient Way Cafe the El Malpais National Monument. We've widdled away many a wonderful evening at the cafe
    enjoying Maqui's most excellent meals. I've spent a small amount of time out at the Zuni Sanctuary as well and it was so wonderful to see your pictures. It's been a couple of years since we've been out there, we've just been too busy working around the homestead in Alb. So it was especially wonderful to see pictures of Maqui, Standing Feather and Guido. I think of them often and miss them. When last we were there Maqui was planning a concert wherein he intended to channel Janis Joplin. Doesn't that just sound like Maqui? And the landscape pictures make me really long to get back out there again soon.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, and I'm so glad your enjoying your tour through our wonderful state.

  2. Thank you, Leiah! That is so kind. The people at El Morro are indeed incredibly kind and a wonderful group who we hope to befriend more deeply over time.....

    It's great that you are also friends with the Sunflowerians! We are so fond of them and hope to return this summer for another visit!

    Your blog is lovely---we have bookmarked it on our blog under the category of "Friends".

    We hope to meet you the next time we pass through Albuquerque, and wish you a wonderful and happy Spring!


  3. Thanks Keith, I've added your blog to my blog roll also and subscribed to your blog so I can continue to follow along.

    We'd love to meet you when you come through Alb. again, just drop me a line on the blog. I'll look forward to it.

    Safe journeys.

  4. Hi! My name is Beth. Three years ago I went car free, got aholt of a hand-crank washing machine, and have been deeply committed to putting my love of the living earth into action. I am almost finished building my own beautiful yurt, and I am interested in becoming part of a community like this! I make my own cleaners, and i have a cat named Boobs that can do any trick a dog can. I am an internationally recognized artist and a pleasant, cheerful person. Could you, would you add another person who comes complete with her own home?

  5. Beth,

    You seem like a deeply committed person who would be an asset to any intentional community. What we would recommend is going to the website of the Federation of Intentional contacting the communities like Sunflower River that you feel drawn to. The next step is to set up a visit and go meet the folks and see whether there's a "fit". Some communities have lengthy processes for becoming a member, others are quite simple. Some cost money, and other don't cost anything to join. There are a lot of factors to consider.

    We have visited about 2 dozen communities and they are all different and unique. We hope you can find one that works perfectly for you, and maybe it will be one that we have already visited!

    Keep in touch with us!