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Saturday, April 9, 2016

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 of a certain size, providing a certain number of meals, and maintaining a clean kitchen, 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 if they want to donate, in reality most of the cost of food is born by those running the kitchen unless you have a big network of support. You'll need to provide pots and pans for cooking, at least a half a dozen 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 check with Info once you're on the land to find out when the council happens). 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 June 28 to July 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. Shitters should be even further.

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, Instant Soup, and Tea Time,  to name but a few of the great kitchens). Ask at Info or better yet at kitchen council when you get to the gathering where else energy may be needed.  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. Wow, great words! Nice job discriptivewize. I'm a bit extreme: When I come to Gathering I bring all my own food and all my own drinks to ensure I am not a Drain on the Phamily. I usually bring way more food and drinks, too, which I donate to a kitchen that I "adopt." Each year I adopt a different kitchen and plug in my energies to it. I DO eat at Rainbow kitchens sometimes, because just how could you not? But I make dang sure I am a net positive influence to the Gathering foodwise and kitchenish... PLUS before leaving Home I burn all my burnable garbage, bury the ashes and bury my compost, recycle all the recyclables, disappear my camp, and take back to Babylon with me a small bag of actual garbage...I am a net positive garbagishly too.

  2. So well written! My one suggestion is that throughout the year, or at least, a month before the gathering -- start collecting food grade buckets. FGBs are buckets that you can get at the grocery store bakery department. They are from 2-5 gallons and have been used for frosting and such. The frosting comes in them and the store usually saves them and gives them away for free! Be certain to get the lids, too. These buckets are used for many things at the gathering. They are great for carrying food to main circle (great for salads!) for dinner, they are great for food storage (dry goods), and they can be used to carry water. They are used by water crew, too. Over time the buckets get degraded -- they get scratched and bacteria hangs out in the scratches -- and then they can be used for other purposes such as dish washing, or they can be used to hold emergency water supply for fires. You would be surprised how useful they are, and collecting them from the grocery store (or looking in their dumpster) is easy.


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