11th Annual Harvest Festival

You are invited to the 11th Annual Sunflower River Harvest Festival!

Help us celebrate our twelfth birthday as a community by coming to our Harvest Festival, an all-ages celebration of the year, the harvest, the cycles of the seasons, of friendship and family and the beauty of the world.

We’ll have a potluck, a pie-baking contest (bring a pie!)*, bobbing for apples, horseshoes, a piñata, farm tours, and an all around good time!

Feel free to bring musical instruments and start a jam!
Invite your friends and family!

Kids are very welcome, but please leave the dogs at home!

Sunflower River (address available by request; it will never be posted online, so please drop us an email if you need directions.)
1-6 pm
Monday (yes, Monday! it’s Labor Day!) September 2nd

We look forward to seeing you there!

*Entries for the pie-baking contest should be made from scratch including the crust, and should be in a clear glass pan so that the judges can see the bottom of the pie. Feel free to experiment and try new things! Never baked a pie? There’s no time like the present! First-time pie-bakers have won this contest more than once! Prizes are harvest-baskets from Sunflower River.


Chicken Processing Workshop

Want to learn how to process your own poultry? We are offering a hands-on chicken-processing workshop, from live bird to oven-ready, on Sunday, August 11th. $25 for the workshop, or $30 includes taking home your own farm-fresh chicken. We have spots available at 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. Email to sign up!


we’ve levelled up – into goats!

if you follow us on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that we have goats on the farm! they are not ours – they belong to our friend Laura – but we asked if we could borrow them to eat down the epic stand of sunflowers in our pasture, and they are doing a lovely job of that, much faster than we anticipated.

The field at the beginning:

The field last weekend:

We picked up two goats (yearling wethers – that is, castrated males about one year old) one week, and then four more (a yearling doe and three kids) the following week.

Tristan carrying a yearling doe, Juniper, into the field:

The wethers by themselves were so difficult to handle that we called the instigator Trouble. When the rest of the herd arrived, they calmed down a bit, and were willing to move with the group – and the group was often led by the littlest kids, two bottle-fed four-month-old darlings. The doeling of the pair is named Lentil, and she won over every heart on the farm within a couple days. She runs up to meet you when you come up to the field, she follows you around while you’re working, she head-butts to ask to have her head scratched. She loves being petted, and accepts being picked up and carried around.

The adorable Lentil:

Lentil’s little wether buddy is every bit as friendly as she is, but Laura said he was going to be eaten in July, so she hadn’t named him. So I named him July, so that I wouldn’t get attached. hahaha. that didn’t work.

Here i am literally attached to July, by a leash, as i let him weed-whack the south end of the garden:

’cause it turned out he and Lentil both would accept being on a leash, so we brought them out to help with the weeding, in an area where they couldn’t reach any cultivars. well, except some low-hanging apricot branches, but we were going to have to prune those anyway. no, really.

Here are Lentil and July playing on, and thereby nearly destroying, an unoccupied chicken tractor:

Then Laura said, okay, it’s time I came and picked up Lentil and one of the boys, and by then we had been talking it over for weeks, so I said, “what if we were to buy July from you?” and he could be our first starter-goat. We’ll get a doeling roughly his age, and the two of them will be our first goat herd. You can’t have just one goat – they get too lonely without a companion. But we don’t want to start our own goat-owning journey with multiple does – or with a doe who is already ready to be bred & then milked. That’s too much too fast! This is the perfect transition – young kids, who are a year and some away from being bred, one wethered male to be a companion to one female who will become the milker. And as it turns out, the folks at Coonridge Goat Farm down in Pie Town, where Laura first got her goats, have an alpine doe that age for sale. So! We get goats of our own!

This dude:

Meanwhile Lentil is also Laura’s favorite, so after about a month, she headed back home, along with Trouble. Lentil is destined to lead a long and healthy life as a milker, and Trouble was the central feature of a matanza (goat-roast) last weekend, a suitable fate. Now there are four goats in our field, and when we get our own little doeling, Laura will take her other three home. It’s been a busy, active month – but we are all so delighted to be raising goats of our own this year! This was one of our stated goals when we formed Sunflower River back in 2007. We even built a goat shed around 2009. It’s had peacocks in it, it’s had storage in it, but it has never previously housed a goat. As I write this, our stalwart and spectacular summer intern team is cleaning it out and getting ready to move the goats into it for the night so we can irrigate the pasture field in the morning.


we’re still here!

it’s been quite a spring, with the usual quotient of too much to do, and a long gap in our volunteer hosting, which means we’re running a little slower than usual this spring, and a little less on the computer and more in the garden, which is no bad thing.

Jenny designed new bean trellises this year, and although we are not yet growing beans up them, since the weather has scarcely warmed up yet, we are growing peas, tomatoes, and an experimental batch of jicama plants up them. they are beautiful, and they reuse a material we have too much of: elm branches.

here is the progression of the trellises through spring so far:





and as you can see, they are beautiful and functional, and the garden is very green this year, partly from all the rain we’ve been getting, and partly because half of the garden is a mix of many different species on each row, rather than one crop per row.



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Last year, Jenny taught a course on using recycled materials in your home/farm/building project for the Hubbell House class series. And sometime after that, one of the folks who had taken that class contacted us to ask if we wanted a patio’s worth of used bricks. She had taken up the old brick patio around her house, and stacked the bricks to one side thinking to use them for something else later, and years had gone by, and she realized she was never going to use them, so she decided to pass them on. Of course we immediately came up with a use for them, and got a team of people and the trailer together and went into town to load up the bricks.

Not wanting to create a long-term brick storage sitaution for ourselves, we then set about designing & building what turns out to be the first of three parts of the Mahazda patio, in front of the french doors. Jenny, Tristan & Rev designed the patio as three quarter-circles, one in each of the house’s large corners (the house is sort of lightning-bolt shaped, with two corners facing the street, each of which has an exterior door – and therefore a mud/mulch/sand entry point for housekeeping). Ultimately, these will be connected by a third partial-circle arc, making a mud-free exterior pathway from kitchen to office.

This batch of bricks enabled us to make the first arc of the patio, by the high-traffic kitchen doors. This is the main entrance to the community house, so plenty of sand and mud gets tracked in here. We’re hoping a cleanable patio will help us mitigate that, as well as reducing the overall amount of mud immediately adjacent to the house, and being beautiful.

The first step was to dig out the area, and lay a few inches of crusher fines (thanks to Fe & Justin, we have a lot of those on hand!), spread a layer of sand over that, and then level the sand. Much grading and careful slanting of sand went into this part, to ensure water will drain away from the house and not into it during storms, but without creating too much of a slope. Then we could start laying bricks!


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Jenny had selected a herringbone pattern for laying the individual bricks, which creates a lovely visual effect. The group got into the rhythm of it fairly smoothly, and the most challenging part was the edge, which required cutting many pieces quite precisely to make the curve. 

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Once we accomplished the edge, we put in a layer of vertical metal landscape edging, to hold it in place, so that the bricks won’t begin spreading out as the years go on.  This product didn’t come with quite as many stakes as we needed, so we repurposed another material – a stack of old dull sawzall blades that hadn’t quite made it to the recycling yet!

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The last stage of the project was to shovel sand over the whole patio and sweep it in, sweeping the sand back and forth until it filled all the cracks between the bricks like grout.  We will continue to do this off and on for the next month or so, until it has all had time to settle in and each crack is fully sanded.  Meanwhile, we are enjoying living with the beautiful new patio! 

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Since we don’t have enough bricks to do the second arc of the patio, by the office door, just yet, Jenny and our wwoof intern Garol put in a paver path from the office door to the patio, so it is possible for a person to get from one door to the other in socks.  When we install the next arc of the patio, we’ll pull up the pavers as needed.  These pavers were originally in our greenhouse, where they were a bit too permeable to weeds and elm trees and such, and we pulled up the floor in there earlier this year and replaced it with several layers of heavy-duty landscape fabric and 3″ of crusher fines, which should both reduce the weeds and be easier to remove weeds from when they do make it through. 

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dome doors!

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this sunday, Rev and I got around to a long-discussed project: installing a proper door on the intern camping dome.

The dome is covered with a white tarp, to keep out the weather, and then a green parachute, to improve its aesthetics and prevent it from standing out like a UFO in the green area in which it is located. Up until this point, to get in and out, you had to lift a piece of the tarp and duck inside a triangle, and it was difficult to get furniture and other items in and out. And I had read about these neat ball-joint dome hubs that some folks in the UK are manufacturing, and I thought, we could use those to change the shape of one side of the dome, and attach a door. Rev went along with the idea, and I emailed the shop owner, and bought some hubs.

The hubs are designed to be screwed into the bars of a wooden dome. Of course our domes are made of hollow aluminum or steel rods — we have three such domes, all made of metal. so we figured, we’d detach the necessary joints, and cut the ends off the bars, so that we could insert a dowel, to which we can screw the hub. then we can change which direction the bars go, because the hub is 6 ball-joints with a central piece so they all swivel, and frame a door, and attach the bars to it. and it worked!

to begin, we got the tarp out of the way by tying it to nearby trees, which created this theatre-like space in which to work:

Then we took apart the joint that was where we wanted the door to go. This meant detaching each of the 5 joints that those 6 rods were attached to, so as to remove the rods entirely, and replacing each of the joints with the new hubs.

cutting the ends off the bars:

a pile of ends:

while Rev cut the bars with the sawzall, our intern Lucas and I screwed the ball-joints to the dowels, to be put inside each bar. (the hub kit comes with the hub, the ball joints, screws, and a washer, bolt & wingnut for stability after the hub is installed.)

we started getting the dowel-and-ball-joint piece into each bar for each of the 5 dome joints.

we used a 6″ length of dowel for each piece so that we’d have some flexibility with regard to the length of each bar, as the dowel could be slid around to where it needed to be, to create the right length of bar. This allowed us to do an infinite amount less measuring before we cut the bars. Later, we drove a screw through the bar-and-dowel, perpendicularly, for stability, but not until we had everything in place.

when we got to the two joints that are at ground-level, we decided not to install ball-joints, as they were not really necessary. instead we removed the bars that needed to go away, and simply re-attached the rest with their original bolts.

finally we had an open pentagon, with ball-joints on the top three joints, in which to situate a door.

Rev built a frame of 1×2″s:

While I hauled up an old door that we had laying around, which I think came from the Mahazda remodel — I think it was an old porch or maybe kitchen door. the glass had fallen out of the window, and we will replace it with screen for ventilation, and add hooks for a curtain. the door is extremely solid, for all its age and peeling paint.

When we got the frame in, we screwed it to the bottom bar of the dome:

and then measured it for the support bars that would spin out from each of the dome joints to attach it.

Rev had to cut each of these bars to length and re-crimp the ends so they could be screwed onto the door frame.

before we hung the door, we ended up adding two extra support bars, screwed on to both the dome bars and the door frame, to strengthen the door frame.

then Rev went back through and added screws to each bar-and-dowel to strengthen and stabilize the connections:

while Lucas and I rebuilt the cottage-stone sill, to help keep dirt and bugs outdoors.

As the sunset lengthened, we cut the white tarp to fit the door, rolled the sides of it around more 1x2s, and screwed it on around the door, to form a permanent attachment. we were careful to manage the tarp for good drainage while we did this, so rain will slough off instead of pooling up above the door. I don’t have action photos of this part, because it was getting dark out and we kept working until the twilight was nearly through.

but here is the final result, in the next day’s light!

the interns are calling it TurtleDome, for its new turtlish appearance.

Rev and I came away from the day feeling like we had accomplished the impossible. Lucas, the tall young man who is living in the dome while interning at Sunflower River, loves having a real door it, and was very happy to be involved in the project as a learning opportunity.

next up, the greenhouse dome! that one’s not on the calendar yet, though, so it’ll probably be a while. ;)



wall art! 2018 edition

This summer, we hosted our first wall-art party in a couple of years. It was an outrageous success — 7 artists (okay, including three people who were living on the farm at the time — but only one of those is a permanent resident) showed up to create works of art in cement plaster on the inside of our earthbag property wall.

Kaitlyn Bryson working on a mycelium sculpture behind the compost

i got a couple more cornstalks added to my long-paused ongoing project — two more left to do, and then the rainstorm beside it, until this piece is finished. and then the Bull of Lasceaux, but that’s another piece.

our intern Nettie crafted this exquite wildflower

and our intermittent intern Sammy, who also painted the gorgeous mural on the potting shed a few years ago, added a sunflower to match, which she plans to add to at our next Wall Art Day in September!

and Evan created this charming Woodhouse Toad, whose cement texture delightfully replicates the texture of the actual animal

We are planning our next Wall Art Day for September 22nd, and would love to see you there!


Harvest Festival 2018

You are invited to the 10th Annual Sunflower River Harvest Festival!

Help us celebrate our eleventh birthday as a community by coming to our Harvest Festival!

Monday, Sept 3rd (yes Monday, Labor Day)

Music jam
Pie-Baking contest
Bobbing for Apples

Mark your calendars and invite your friends! Plan to bring a potluck dish, musical instruments, and your most celebratory self! Bring your friends and family for this all-ages celebration of the year, the harvest, the cycles of the seasons, of friendship and family and the beauty of the world.

Kids are very welcome (and will have other kids to play with – as well as first crack at the piñata!), but please leave the dogs at home.

See you there!
Kat, Alan, Jenny, Tristan, Rev & Gawain
Sunflower River


Community Tools: How to get from January to December Every Year

Community Tools: How to get from January to December Every Year

A workshop on community and group management processes

Saturday, August 25th
at Sunflower River
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
with a one-hour break for lunch
please pack a lunch (or there is a great New Mexican place just up the road from the farm)

Led by Tristan Fin

This workshop will provide a detailed exploration of the tools Sunflower River uses to collaboratively run our community. These tools include variants on the consensus process model, basic non-violent communication techniques, mission, vision and goals. We hear all the time that we are really well organized, and we know we’re good at getting things done. We’d like to show you how we do it, and help you find ways to bring these tools into your community-building projects. The workshop will cover our weekly process, yearly process, and special topics. These tools can be used for an array of contexts, from intentional community to any group working on a common goal.

Sunflower River is a five-person intentional community and farm in Albuquerque’s South Valley. Founded in September 2007, we are in our eleventh year. We have a dual focus on sustainability and spirituality. We are a host-farm for volunteers through the WWOOF-USA program, as well as Workaway and HelpX.

Tristan Fin, a founder and Steward of Sunflower River, is trained in group faciliation, and mediation.


Space is limited! Pre-registration is not required, however, please RSVP by email, text, or private message to Kat before August 20th!

Any questions, please ask. We hope to see you there!

Kat Heatherington

the dance ground, the rain, and the mulch

Over the last couple years, the mulch on our dance ground has gotten very thin, exposing the hard clay to a lot of sunlight, which hardens it further. And enables more weeds to grow. The purpose of the mulch-layer on the dance ground is to prevent weed growth, and to soften the earth under the mulch, so that when we rake it aside for dance events, it is soft on bare feet, and level. Without mulching, the rain/sun cycle leaves the ground very hard and uneven underfoot.

We did not get a new mulch layer accomplished before the solstice, and then that week, Hurricane Bud swept up from Mexico, and it poured! A blessing of rain, an abundance of rain, 1.5″ in one day.

it got a bit muddy.

And then it dried out, over the next couple weeks, into a complete mess.

Last winter when we chipped up the Epic Stick Pile, we provided ourselves with a significant supply of mulch, of which quite a bit was (and is) left. So at the work party in early July, a team of stewards and interns tackled the fire circle and laid down a 3″ layer of mulch throughout!

in process:

and finished: