Sunday, April 17, 2011

So you want to focalize a kitchen?

In my humble opinion, the gathering needs more kitchens like it needs more dogs, but for some  reason, everyone wants to focalize a kitchen. Seems to me that being part of the kitchen provides an amazing growing, learning experience on working collectively and provide safe and healthy food in the woods.


The reality of focalizing a kitchen goes something like this.

Unless you're serving main circle (dinner circle), Main Supply won't provide food for cooking. This means you provide the free food in the woods. While some kitchens have a donation can on the counter for after people have been fed, in reality most of the cost of food is born by those running the kitchen. You'll need to provide pots and pans for cooking, 5-gallon water buckets for dish washing, filtered drinking water for you and your crew and hopefully for all gatherers. You'll need to chop wood, haul water and wash dishes in addition to cooking. You'll need to make sure you provide sanitary cooking and serving facilities, keep sick people out of your kitchen, deal with late night movies and work your ass off.

If you've never plugged in with a kitchen at a gathering before, you might think about joining your energy with a well established kitchen to get a sense of how hard cooking in the woods can be before you strike off on your own.

If you're ambitious enough to serve main circle, make sure to be at kitchen council so your kitchen gets some of the supplies (often around 11 AM near Info). But keep in mind that even those kitchens serving main circle only get a portion of the food they serve from main supply.

Sure late night zuzu cooking is fun, but it also is hard to work around all the tripping hippies -- especially those who need baby sitting at 2 AM.

You'll also need to have some serious shitter movies going down. Not only for your crew but for anyone who is attracted to your camp. This can mean digging a new shitter every day from July 1 to 3 when the gathering population swells.

When the gathering is over, you get to disappear your kitchen so no one knows it was ever there. You get to haul your trash out, bury your compost and fill in your shitters.

What do you get for focalizing a kitchen?

More personal growth than you ever imagined possible in a couple of weeks. More stress than you can imagine and more people smoking you out that you could ever wish for if you're kitchen is dank. You get to move your kitchen three times because the US Forest Service keeps changing the rule on how close to surface water the kitchen can be - play it safe and go 500 feet if you want to avoid the move your kitchen game.

You get people bugging you at all hours of the day and night because they're hungry or thirsty. You get random dogs digging through your supply tent and eating the food you just hiked three miles on your back. If you leave your kitchen unsupervised by trusted kitchen crew, you come back to a kitchen missing pots or oranges or a tarp.

The wonderful tarps you strung over your kitchen collapse from rain in the middle of the evening meal. And above all, you get to have a complete temper tantrum when your nerves snap because no one wants to help wash dishes or dig the next shitter.  Of course, you can plug into an existing kitchen and learn from experienced family how a great kitchen works. (Try the Ovens, Kiddie Village, Musical Veggies, Granola Funk, Instant Soup, Tea Time, Warriors of the Light and BARF to name but a few of the great kitchens. Ask at Info when you get to the gathering).  Most kitchens welcome new people who are willing to work.

It's a wonderful magical crazy ride and worth every second if you last. But please, please, please read the Kitchen Mini Manual so you don't get your family sick due to lack of proper hygiene.

If you've every plugged into a kitchen, please share your words of wisdom.


  1. sssssoooooo true !!!!! HFM kitchen loves you!!!!

  2. *´¨`*•.¸this is great sister! thanks, We Love You!
    we are a new kitchen from Southeast Minnesota: Coulee Kitchen ¸.•*´¨`* ♥ just hot tea and raw veggie specials this year!! thks for the Kitchen Mini Manual link

  3. ...or have more fun and just bring a blanket and a bowl and leave everything else including you delusions of status behind in babylon.

  4. Right on spot... so many kitchen need haulers and diggers so support bros and sistas support... the experience is worth the effort. I think contribution with all of the above is essential give a little food, time, effort, and money... if you don't contribute you don't deserve to receive. Don't be a drainbo! Stay home your just in the way!

  5. mama T of sereniteaApril 20, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    Karin YOU Rock !!! This is so REAL....It is so much work to have a kitchen...My Gratitude is huge to the Runners and Organizers of my main food kitchen Musical Veggie, and all other wonderful kitchens I've had the blessing to get to know...Lovin' U

  6. In 1988,I was introduced to the rainbow family of living light and attended my first national gathering. I did not know how to give. Seriously, I just was not brought up in a culture that gave to others who were not blood family. In 2011, I am so glad of the whole rainbow journey and my growth. You should never give till it hurts, and only you can tell yourself how much and when and how to give. I must just comment that this year, I have ideas about what and how I will give. I am bringing my needle and thread to help darning the clothing of folks who need it. I am bringing my rubber gloves and my chore boy scrubbie because I love water and I like to do dishes. I am bringing information about begginning sustaining a barter society, and our free barter fair this year. I am bringing my flute and my voice and my love of music. And I am bringing my need to be loved. Hurrah for the good balances between needs and desires, between giving and getting. !! love, Emerald Otter

  7. loving all of the input. I am blessed with being part of the Magic Bowl Kitchen. The amount of energy that is required is immense. I am always impressed with how it all gets done. This year will be my 15th National with a kitchen so Karma must like the results.

  8. Good to see you posting news again this year, Karin! Your posts were a great help when I went to the 2010 gathering in Allegheny. We bought a lot of produce from the Amish on our way to the Gathering to donate to the Musical Veggie kitchen, as well as the rice, coffee, spices, and other goodies we already packed. The MV kitchen is pretty selective about who helps prepare meals, so we gathered wood, did cleanups, and helped digging a shitter. It's always a wonderful time when everyone contributes something in their own way! Sorry I can't make it to WA this year.


  10. FOOD lookin for the kitchenJune 20, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    hey guys,check this out! My name is Cindy Im a first timer and as local as one can get.I have a huge supply of FOOD ! Pounds of pastas, beans, rice, oatmeal,dry milk, cereal Can foods, cream soups,beans, vegis, &fruit. Processed American, cheese breads and possibly fresh vegis and fruit.) Im talking bout a butt load! BUT! Theres always a but! I don't drive???? Im looking forward to my first gathering!! As I'm a cancer I can't help but to be prepared.I believe I can provide enough food to be worthwhile for a truck to help get the food and I from here to there.Please let me know if theres anyone able and or willing to get this together? Im right downtown,easy to find. to contact me please e-mail me @ muffinutter@ or leave me a message with my sweet friend Lisa # 520-661-3955 and I'll call you back immedatly.