Hello from Twin Oaks! It’s been a while since we published an issue of the Leaves, but quarantining has a way of making more time available.
We are currently in lock-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic—we are allowing no guests or visitors to come into the community, and only emergency trips out. We don’t know when this will end, but it will continue for the foreseeable future.
There were various activities happening over the winter. Our mid-age home-schooled kids (ages 7 – 14) participated in NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month—and during the month of November, each of them produced a short work which were all displayed for the community to see. We also kept busy with Positive Gossip each week; we put the names of every member in a hat, and as we drew each name, we went around the circle and people said the things they love and appreciate about that person.
Other news of the commune: We re-formed our Diversity Team to be POC-only (Person Of Color) and they have been working on encouraging the community to address issues of race as they manifest in our predominantly white community. Our author-member Pam spent 2 months this past winter promoting her second book The Year-Round Hoophouse by touring many sustainable agriculture conferences around the country. We’re continuing being sustainable in the community by constructing ponds to turn what we treat as wastewater from our tofu business into a resource which will be captured and used for irrigating and fertilizing our pastures. A few of our members took a trip to Costa Rica pre-coronavirus and are now quarantining there—we keep in regular touch by email.
Photo: Twin Oaks wastewater ponds.
It’s unfortunately looking increasingly likely that our summer events—Queer Gathering, Women’s Gathering and Communities Conference—will be canceled but we will post updates at twinoaks.org as we know more.
Seed Racks: A Growing Business
It’s spring here at Twin Oaks -- coat-and-hat weather in the chilly mornings, paired with sunny afternoons and crisp blue skies, and the excitement of the first spring flowers. Gardeners are focused on getting ready for planting, and here in the Seed Racks office we’re busy getting seed orders fulfilled.
Photo: The climate-controlled seed storage room.
Seed Racks is currently the third largest business at Twin Oaks. It’s the wholesale branch of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE), owned by our sister community Acorn. We sell large quantities of heirloom and organic seed packets, as well as racks to display our product on, to retailers like garden centers and organic groceries from Maine to Texas, with the majority of locations in the Mid-Atlantic states. Two of our biggest customers are the MOM’s Organic Market chain in MD/NoVA and Fifth Season Gardening stores based in NC.
Seed Racks is truly a collaboration between multiple communities, as Acorn owns SESE, members of nearby Mimosa community work in the business when we need extra help, and our sales rep/marketing manager is a communard living in DC. This partnership between communities makes this unique among our businesses. Twin Oaks is responsible for operating SESE’s wholesale branch, for which Acorn pays Twin Oaks an hourly wage for our labor, and both communities share the profits from Seed Racks.
Managing Seed Racks is my favorite job, as well as my most stressful job. Our busiest time of year is from November to March, bringing long days of order processing, packet printing, assisting customers, and frantically trying to get orders ready for shipping, at the time of year when many Oakers find themselves with a much-deserved chance to relax and take it easy after a summer of hard physical work.
Some of the nice things about Seed Racks are that it’s an opportunity for indoor work which is easy on the body -- not everyone is able to work for hours in the sun. It helps support organic agriculture in the world, which makes it a great fit for our values, and fosters collaboration with a sister community. I feel good about this business’s impact on the earth. Our paper recycling bin needs to be emptied much more often than our trash bin! We produce very little plastic waste, and sell a product that is genuinely valuable, as well as thoroughly biodegradable.
One of the biggest challenges comes from running a web-based business with our spotty rural internet connection -- a day or two of the internet being down, as happens not infrequently around here, makes it hard to get much done in the office. Another challenge comes along with the flexible, opt-in nature of work here at Twin Oaks -- not many folks here are interested in doing marketing and sales work, office work, or web programming, while weighing out seeds for hand-packing is a reliably popular job. On the bright side, that means there’s a lot of potential for growth here. We have not had much in the way of time or energy to put into marketing thus far, and are still very busy every winter filling orders.
You Might Be A Feminist At Twin Oaks If....
We asked various members of Twin Oaks to finish this sentence. Here are some of their answers:
you've ever taken Movement Support labor credits for some activism, and realized that all oppressions are linked
you've ever asked a male visitor to put his shirt on at a meal-time
you've ever done a post-structuralist, anti-colonialist, neo-marxist deconstruction of a Disney princess movie.....while singing along with the movie
you've ever shared a Diva cup
you've ever looked at your friend's vulva in a workshop
you've ever been assigned non-traditional work for your gender and realized you enjoyed it
you've ever been assigned non-traditional work for your gender and didn't even notice it was non-traditional
you acknowledge that we carry the patriarchy with us
you’ve asked a woman to open the stuck canning jar lid
you use the pronoun “co”
you use peoples’ preferred pronouns
For ongoing news ot Twin Oaks see our pages on these social media sites: