I live in an intentional community in the Northern San Francisco Bay Area. We have big gardens, chickens, a community room that’s an old renovated barn and though most of us work off the property, we do a lot of things together. One of those things is that we eat dinner together most nights of the workweek.
There are sixteen adults and each of us cooks one night a month for everyone, Monday through Thursday nights. We get a wonderful, organic meal each of these nights and if you can’t be there for some reason, you get a late plate. When I first moved to the community eight years ago I noticed that I started saving hundreds of dollars a month on food, my refrigerator stayed pretty clean and the amazing thing was I was not throwing much food away. Of course we have chickens and we compost everything for our gardens but, still, that “food/waste shame” is there sometimes. Old emotional habits die hard!
Over the years we have devised methods of making sure that whatever fruit or crop that is ripe on the land gets shared with everyone. We dehydrate, we can tomato sauce, we juice apples, we freeze berries, we pickle – and there are times we do these things together. We don’t let much go to waste anymore. We’re even seed-saving some of our tomato and bean seeds for replanting. And the amazing thing is we don’t have to do these things – we’ve grown to love doing them.
But we did have to learn these skills. We often have to teach new members of the community how to cook for sixteen to twenty people. And we lend our big pots around too. Even beyond all of the issues that food can bring up among people, somehow it’s the food that keeps us the most connected. It makes it easier to share tools, and mowers and spaces with others if you’re eating together. We communicate better because of food. And everyone recognizes that it saves money and precious time. Those who can afford meat serve it and those who have tighter budgets don’t – we leave our judgement behind. We get to be so much closer because of this aspect of who we are and how we are living.
I am working on writing a book about how to create community on your own block and food is a major part of it. Being in community not only saves money it supports people with time, love, connection and a helping hand. We grow in our diversity and our compassion and we eat really
Bio: Suzie Heumann is an entrepreneur, digital strategist, writer, nature & travel videographer, sexuality educator, gardener, wife, mother of three gorgeous daughters and an avid community member. She loves to cook, swim, be in nature, study neuroscience and find ways she can help people live more fulfilled lives.