Delicious… Our arrival to Full Bloom

New Community Resident’s Journal—Week 1                                                                   by Elena Zubulake

It’s hard to believe we’ve only been here less than a week… a week tomorrow to be exact. So much has happened, from our late-night-exhausted-after-21-hours-of-driving-with-two-kitties arrival, to today— my first day on a computer since arriving on the first day of Aquarius in our new mountain community home.

To put it quite honestly, “arriving” at Full Bloom Community, has been pretty much everything I could have wanted it to be and more, and the ancient part of my being so stomach-churning-hungry for village is already feeling deeply fed by being here only 6 short winter days.

I do realize in saying that the risk of “speaking too soon” or the natural tendency of NRE–new relationship energy–to predominate the field at the beginning of any new intimacy or love based relationship, be it a partner, a new job, or in this case, a new village. But I will take the risk, knowing that mountains crumble and ice melts, and even go out on a limb to say, “yes, indeed, I am falling in love”. After all, we are here to at least give falling in love with a village of human and non-human companions a good ol’ try-on-for-size.

“Being Fed” could be the most beautifully fitting metaphor for our time here thus far. Sitting here now, eating Victor’s left over birthday cake, inspired by the orange cake his grandmother used to make him when he was a kid. A cake created by my own hands and the enthusiastic hands of two tow headed girls and a boy in a kitchen full of the busy-ness of midday, a lunch of greens from the green house, bread from the bakery, an egg salad with lovage from the garden and eggs from the chickens out in the pasture. People winding in and out from brush burning up the hillside. All whilst, trying to keep the “secret” of the cake making from Victor’s sight.

I have been fed abundantly every day since arriving by food created in a kitchen full of story— the story of a community coming together, the daily comings and goings, the meetings and the partings, the baking of many loaves of bread, the kids getting taller, a place where visions have been made, where arguments have brewed, and ultimately where an older-kind-of-family-every-day-loving has found a little root from which to sprout. The abundance of a community begins right here.


How do I know all this? Because the food and connection here feel delicious. The succulent lamb from up the road, the perfectly cooked salmon that Jacob caught this summer, the roasted potatoes with a little of this very earth still in their essence, the sweet chard from the green house….

….the perfectly cooked heart share circle that left my belly full and round, the delectable laughter seasoning our first breakfast here after awakening and finding our way to the kitchen, the spicy-ness of the impromptu “fashion show”, the bitterness of an interaction with a visitor followed by the sweetness of a curious inquiry into what happened, and the ongoing crossing of paths that just makes daily life more interesting, diverse, and delightful. And sacred.


You pull together some quality ingredients, just a few, and a delicious stew of possibility is created. I feel that and look forward to more as Victor and I live into our own deliciousness and see how it can add a new flavor to this already well cooked stew.

I just heard Ryan call out from downstairs that they are making lamb meatballs for dinner. Yum!!!

Women’s Natural Building Workshop on the Horizon

If you’ve read many of my posts you’ve gathered that there is a strong emphasis here at Full Bloom on the importance of building structures in a way the reflects the deeper values of the emerging ecologically based culture.  These values include: using locally and sustainably sourced materials, staying connected to the rhthyms and patterns of the natural world, and creating a sense of belonging to a place and/or bio-region to name just a few.


The inside of me and my wife Eden’s Strawbale home.

There’s another value that’s becoming a significant and perhaps understated value in the emergent natural building culture: gender equality.

For quite some time now the art and trade of building has been dominated my the male half or our species and we’re excited about being able to shift that imbalance and see what happens.   How would our structures look and feel like if more of them were designed and built by women?  For centuries we’ve missed out on the God’s knows how many cool ideas by not having women be an integral part of the our building culture.   All I know is that diversity is a good thing for any system/culture wanting to thrive.

So in the spirit of supporting more diversity and continuing to evolve this art form called “natural building”  Full Bloom will be hosting a 10 day women’s natural building workshop given by our friend, neighbor, and master builder Lydia Doleman.  The women will be building a load bearing strawbale structure that will most likely be used as a massage room and healing space.


Lydia plastering one of the “cob” structures here at Full Bloom

Its all very gratifying to be a part of the unfolding of a building culture that actually reflects my deepest values of equality and natural beauty.  If you want to learn from about the workshop you can visit Lydia’s site:

“We must raise both the ceiling and the floor.”
― Sheryl SandbergLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead


Gardening as a Spiritual Practice

Every spring I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt, preparing the garden beds for another season of growth: the rich array of colorful flowers, the crisp sugar snap peas, the deep greens of kale and chard.  I can see them all now in my minds eye even though the garden is mostly bare except for the few perenial herbs and flowers.   Now in my 7th year of heading up the community garden I see how every year is so unique and yet holds so many constants.

The Full Bloom Community Greenhouse

The garden reflects my own growth; this year I am particularly noticing a greater sense of thoroughness and patience.  For instance I’m really making sure that every little plant start in the greenhouse has just the right amount of water and I’m looking closely at their growth every day, noticing any sign to insect damage or nutrient deficiency.  The thing about gardening is that you’re working with living breathing life forms and ultimately its way beyond your control.  Ultimately its a relationship, a relationship that deepens over time endlessly.  I will always be learning more about the plants, the soil, the elements that compose this magical nexus of relationship called “garden”.

When I first began gardening and farming here I was mostly focused on how to grow food for the sake of offsetting my environmental impact and supporting the sustainable/ecological agriculture movement.  Recently I’ve sunken into a richer experience of being in the garden that includes more intangibilities like developing a greater sense of curiosity, feeling a deeper sense of place, and stepping for fully into the unfathomable diversity and beauty of life.   Gardening has become one of my strongest spiritual practices for it offers an opportunity to discover the truth of my connection to life, to dispel a sense of separation and for my egoic tendencies of control and manipulation to be reflected and exposed as not serving me or the garden.   To me “spiritual practice” is the art of becoming more fully present to life and a garden is just one big invitation to do just that.   Thanks for reading and please share your own reflections and thoughts on the matter.   Till next time…….Ryan


Let the Mapping Begin!

Last weekend, almost 30 members of our rural community in the Little Applegate Valley got together for our first ever community mapping event.  It was relaxed, fun and even exciting.  My wife and I got there 20 minutes late but that was no biggie since one of the organizers was also late due to daylight savings time.  So we didn’t miss anything formal, just a bunch of friends and neighbors getting a chance to chat and catch up on how the winter was and how the spring was looking.  The purpose of the meeting was to start a dialogue and explore what resources of all types we have to offer to each other now and plan to offer in the future.  The group consisted of a sampling of farms from our valley but not every farm or homesteader from our valley was able to be invited due to space constraints. DSC02748So, after a more formal introduction we let the mapping begin.  This wasn’t the type of map I usually think of when I hear the word map.  We were about to map a wide range of things not just geographical locations. Then we would group the like items out of that brainstorm to make sense of all the information. Our wonderful community organizer whose inspiration had called us all together had already prepped 10 large sheets of butcher paper to brainstorm on with different headings on each.  Headings such as: Historic Sites, Communication and Culture, On Site Businesses and Education, social services, Big Dreams. DSC02753 We then broke out into small groups based on which farm we were from and spent 5 minutes in our group brainstorming around what our group had to offer under that heading.  So that took about an hour.  This was called assessment.  We were asked to be specific. If under education we wrote Music Lessons, we would also write the name of the person who was able and offering.  Under communication, we would note which person’s Twitter account or which business  webpage.   As the minutes ticked away we listed whatever came to mind for each topic.  And wow,  at the end of it all, there was so much information on each piece of paper. I felt amazed by how much was being offered by all these different people and the places they loved and the things they loved to do.  I could not help but be excited by all the potential being expressed.  It also blew me away that this was only a sample of the valley community but far from an exhaustive group.  It was clear to me that this was just part of the story.  And it was just the beginning of our story.   Our story of who we are and what we do and how we want to do it together.  Every community ought to do this.  Let the mapping begin!

Permaculture: the Love Story of the Land: Part 1

When we came to this land, bright eyed and tender handed, we came with a dream of farming, of raising our food and our families in a sustainable way, and we saw permaculture as part of that way. Unlike the buzzword ‘sustainability’ that has been co-opted by corporate media, permaculture offers a very clear set of principles to follow, including a code of ethics.  Why does this practice appeal to me and my friends, and to an emergent culture of these last few generations? What permaculture offers is a blueprint for how to relate not only to land, but to each other.

Permaculture encourages us to observe, explore, and interact with our natural environment- a practice that has been undervalued as more and more of our society had to leave the farm and take industrial jobs in the city. Observation, observation, observation you will often see in permaculture texts.  You must know the territory before expecting to know how to work with it.  And when you do interact, you receive valuable feedback, which helps you understand even more deeply.  Working with, rather than making something work for you; creating relationships that lead to greater health within the entire system, rather than just extracting or taking what you need and leaving the system to repair itself (or not) is a fundamental shift from the way industrial systems operate.

These very same principles are what we long for in our human relationships.  Just as we have rejected the archaic idea that children are just blank slates to be filled with our knowledge and ideas, it becomes unethical to just ‘do what ever you want’ to the land.  Our land has a deep history, stories to tell of the animals, humans, water, fire, and geology that has shaped it.


That’s me, Eden, observing and interacting with our land here at Full Bloom

We long for true intimacy with our land and with each other.  We want to know another for who they are, not just our idea of who we think they are.  We are done with the fairy tale ideas of boy-meets-girl and happily-ever-after for we see they are bound to fail; they work only as longs as everyone involved does what they are supposed to, and we all know how well that turns out with humans.  True relationship that allows all humans involved to flourish, that leads to mutual benefits, is based on non-coercive interactions and deep honoring of what is true and present for each individual.  …part 2 to come…

“It is our collective responsibility to protect and nurture the global family, to support its weaker members and to preserve and tend to the environment in which we all live”
The Dalai Lama

Potluck and Sauna Night…..Yumminess on many levels

After the completion of the community sauna we established what is fast becoming one of the highlights of the week here at Full Bloom: Potluck and Sauna night.   Its a night where we put out an invitation to our broader community to come and join us for a meal, catch up on the valley happenings, and then go for a nice sweat.  This past Friday we were blessed with some seriously talented and fun musicians who busted into a music jam and sing along. Singing, playing instruments, and dancing is such a natural thing to do at a gathering and yet there’s part of me that’s still getting used to it.  I just didn’t grow up with it.   When it happens here I’m so grateful and reminded that I want to build it into our lives here more often.  I believe it to be foundational to the long-term viability of an intentional community to have plenty of singing, dancing, and music creation happening.  Its the ultimate soul food and part of us begins to starve without it..  We are wired to spend time together in “musical communion”, its one of the most powerful ways of breaking the trance of separation, of our neurosis.




Last Friday night’s sauna was the first time we took a sauna with the tile work and entryway mosaic completed.  As you can imagine its a wonderful image to just be absorbed by while in a sauna.


I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.

Our Very Local Artisan Bread Bakery: Rise Up!

Last night after watching a movie in our community room I stepped into the upstairs hallway and was blasted by a wave of the most intoxicating aroma know to man:  fresh baked french bread.   It still blows me away sometimes that I share my life with landmates that have devoted themselves to baking the finest artisan bread known to man.

5 years ago during the design  phase of our communal building at Full Bloom Jo and Rosie our land partners and founders of Rise Up! Artisan Bread designed into the facility a fully functional artisan bread bakery complete with a traditional “Lopis” wood fired oven with a rotating deck.  Below you can see Jo and his oven:

DSCN1528Even though I’ve heard him speak about why he does what he does, I asked Jo again last night why he bakes bread to see what answer I got (the thing about Jo is he’s going to express what’s actually true for him in the moment rather than giving some rote reply) and last night he spoke about the way baking bread with the hand fashioned wooden peel in a wood fired oven connects him with a baking tradition that stretches back hundreds and hundreds of years.   Baking artisan, organic bread is his way of contributing to a growing effort to reconnect humans with the source of their food, to re-humanize the food growing and preparation process.   Rise Up! does this through creating a baking environment that is sociable, humane, a place people want to be around.  Its no factory, its a hearth.


Jo and employee Melissa shaping loaves in the Bakery.


Jo delivering the fresh baked loaves to the rack with his peel

Watching all that goes into bringing bread to market from mixing doughs, shaping loves, and baking loaves (3 days a week) I’m in awe at the dance that is Rise Up!.  Check them out at (They’re going to have a video on their site soon about their operation).

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
Nelson Mandela 




We did it!: The first Sauna at Full Bloom has been had.

On Christmas eve we lit up our recently completed sauna for its inaugural voyage and it didn’t disappoint.  With three different kinds of cedar, freshly sanded and soaked with jojoba/bees wax stain the smells were intoxicating.  It was 28 degrees outside so the contrasting worlds were amazing.  After about a half hour in the sauna a group of us led by two 10 year olds (Ocean and Sam) jumped in our freezing pond for a borage of sensation, a sense of being born again, then back in the sauna to warm up.  I can already feel how the sauna will be a community building, healing space for the residents of Full Bloom and our guests.  Check out the interior:





There is a marked difference to be in a structure like this one that has been truly handcrafted by fine wood craftsman who has gathered local wood, brought it to local mills and sanded each piece by hand.   This ain’t no pre-fab sauna!

Looking forward to the eventual addition of a deck space leading to a diving board over the pond.   But in the meantime I am thoroughly overjoyed by this recent addition to the Full Bloom matrix.

Till next time,


Creating a Sense of Belonging Through Natural Building


The dining room and solarium at Full Bloom

There’s a quiet revolution going on in different pockets and niches of the planet right now and it falls under blanket terms such as “natural building”, “Green Homes”, and “Ecological Design”.   The general theme is the incorporation of more natural materials and patterns into architectural design and home building.  Over the past 8 years at Full Bloom we’ve been experimenting and exploring different principles of natural building and the one I’m most intrigued by is the art of creating a sense of belonging in homes and buildings.  Its a thoroughly intangible concept, “belonging”, and yet I believe that if we pay attention to how we feel as we enter a certain building we can gauge the degree of belonging we feel.  This can be done by simply asking ourselves:  “Do I want to stay here?”, “Do I feel nourished by being in this space?”,  “Do I feel at ease in this space?”.   Then listening for an answer.


There are so many factors that determine the answer to that question and its also a very subjective experience, yet the point is for those questions to be asked early on in the design process.  To the best of our ability we have asked those questions during the designing of the buildings here and have come up with the best answers possible.   That being said, we continue to learn so much about what design components facilitate ease and comfort, exploring everything from how sunlight enters a building over the course of the day, how sound travels within a building, how to create semi-private nooks for people to have conversations, how to bring more natural curves and emblems of nature like timbers, or stain glass nature images into a building.


Stain Glass installed by our generous neighbor depicting the countryside of the Little Applegate Valley.



My belief is that as humans we have a fundamental desire to be surrounded by beauty, by patterns that are easy on our senses, that make us feel at home.  When we are deprived of such beauty and ease our moods go south so to speak, we can feel depressed, lost, confused not realizing in may have something to do with the space we are living or working in.   But that’s just my humble opinion and inquiry.

“In contrast to how a child belongs in the world, adult belonging is never as natural, innocent, or playful. Adult belonging has to be chosen, received, and renewed. It is a lifetime’s work.” – John O’Donohue

Thanks for reading,


The virtues of pastured eggs

For the last 7 years we’ve had diverse flock of laying hens roams around the land here at Full Bloom and offering us a daily colorful reminder of the perks country life: gloriously vibrant orange yolked eggs.  It turns out that the factory farmed eggs I grew up on with the dull yellow yolks aren’t what eggs are supposed to look like.  Check out the comparison between pastured eggs and those laid by factory raised hens:Eggs comparisonBy having access to a diverse grasses, bugs, worms, and various insects pastured hens are able to concentrate an amazing amount of nutrients in their yolks (particularly caroteniods which is what gives the yolk that amazing color and are thought to prevent cancer and degenerative eye diseases).


Full Bloom hens on pasture.


Hens rangin’ in front of the Communal Building on a misty fall morning.

I always get a thrill out of serving up a delicately prepared Full Bloom egg to a visitor and watching their eyes involuntarily bulge in delight, their mouth open ever so slightly in anticipation.  Regardless of the latest nutritional debate about eggs, when one is served to you that came from a hen you can see out the window and prepared lovingly by a cook who knows the value of farm fresh ingredients there’s something undeniably nourishing happening.

hard boild pastured egg

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, curiosities shoot me an email me at:  Till next time……Ryan