Rae Machado and Aaron Murphy will instruct workshop guests at Milkweed Mercantile in the art of natural building.

The Milkweed Mercantile, a Bed & Breakfast Inn and Cafe at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage near Rutledge, Missouri, announces Sustainable Living Workshops for 2017.

The Mercantile recently reorganized from an LLC to a worker-owned collective and is run and managed cooperatively by ten board members. In addition to workshops the Mercantile offers hand-crafted pizza every Thursday, a full family-friendly pub, and four comfortable inn rooms.

Alline Anderson, who opened the business with her husband Kurt Kessner in 2010, is now a member of the cooperative. One of her responsibilities is directing the Workshop Program. “We like to think of our workshops as providing the best of both country and city life” Anderson said. “Folks from the city can come and enjoy the quiet, the star-filled skies and the morning birdsong, while members of our local community get access to top-notch instructors and experiences that are few and far between in our rural area.” The Mercantile is offering specially discounted rates for people living in local counties (Scotland, Adair, Schuyler, Knox, Lewis and Clark).

Soap Making and Herbal Medicines

A weekend of Soap-making and Herbal Medicines starts off this season’s offerings in May. Taught by gardener and herbalist Kim Kanney, owner of Artemisia soaps, participants will learn to make soap, salves, tinctures and even a spray insect repellent. Included in the 2-day workshop are all meals, all instruction, ample hands-on opportunities, written instructions, a land walk to learn to identify local medicinal plants, and samples to take home.

Kim Kanney will offer a soap-making workshop at Milkweed Mercantile.


You no longer have to live in a big city to experience a luxurious three day yoga retreat. The Mercantile is joining forces with Columbia’s Yoga Sol to bring top-notch instructors to Rutledge this July 4th weekend. Fourteen classes, accommodating participants ranging from beginner to advanced levels, will be spread over 3 ½ days. Classes will be held in Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage’s dance studio, a large sunny space featuring a hardwood floor, a wall of mirrors, and a small stage for the instructor. The Mercantile is offering a specially discounted price for locals who choose to commute daily rather than stay overnight. Lunch is included, as are all classes. Therapeutic massage will also be available.

Natural Building

In keeping with its straw bale roots, the Milkweed Mercantile is offering two Natural Building workshops. Designed to be hands-on immersion experiences, the workshops will cover the construction of buildings using sustainable materials such as straw bales, cob, and natural plasters. Workshops will be taught by three of Dancing Rabbit’s builders, including Rae Machado and Aaron Murphy, who are also members of the Mercantile cooperative. “We’re looking forward to teaching people how to build their own homes out of materials that are readily available, such as straw bales and reclaimed lumber” said Murphy. The workshops include insider tours of buildings at Dancing Rabbit and Red Earth Farms, given by the builders themselves. “We’re excited to share the fun of hand-crafting your own home!” added Machado.

Other workshops are a 4-hour canning intensive; a Food Preservation weekend where participants will learn about fermenting, canning and cheesemaking; and a Writers’ Workshop with poet Francizka Voeltz.

Questions may be directed to the Milkweed Mercantile at 660-883-5522, and information on all courses can be found on the Milkweed Mercantile’s webpage, milkweedmercarcantile.com.