Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Milkweed Mercantile Eco-Inn
Rutledge, MO

Congratulations to Fall 2013
People & Planet Award winner Milkweed Mercantile!


The Milkweed Mercantile has raised the “green” bar and is encouraging others to join us. Our strawbale-constructed, solar-and-wind-powered Inn, Café, and Store are located at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, a rural Missouri community demonstrating ecological sustainability, and one of the world's foremost experiments in real-world ecological living.

Five-star ratings with both Trip Advisor and BedandBreakfast.com tell us that our guests agree with our choice of putting people and planet first, while enabling us to run a sustainable, profitable, human-scaled business.

We (owners Alline Anderson and Kurt Kessner) created Milkweed Mercantile for several reasons; to build a for-profit business that aligns with our values for sustainability, to create employment opportunities in an economically depressed rural area, to educate and share skills gleaned from a truly green lifestyle, and to demonstrate the endless rewards and the genuine beauty of a more sustainable life.

Our guests stay in our comfortable strawbale building, experience the seamlessness of solar and wind power, watch us cook “real” food in our open-to-the-dining-room certified kitchen, shower in rainwater, and experience community first hand.

The Mercantile building is constructed with local bales, reclaimed and local lumber, and other renewable and sustainable materials. Electricity comes from our solar panels and our wind turbine. Rainwater, used for cooking and bathing, is collected in our 7,000 gallon cistern. We heat with locally harvested wood, much of which is scrap wood from a local pallet mill. The Mercantile opened for business in 2009.

We believe that a sustainable life is not about sacrifice, but about joy, community, a real sense of connection and hope. Oh… and a lot of great food, too.

We delight in serving our guests food grown here at the ecovillage and in the wider community by our farmer friends. We make everything from scratch, including bread and mozzarella cheese. Our Thursday Pizza Nights are (locally) famous, and our beer selection, which is organic, local, and/or from sustainability-minded breweries, is the best for hundreds of miles. The Mercantile has its own line of organic jams, jellies and pickles, to be featured in our soon-to-be published cookbook. We carry food and handmade items created by local community members. We are also working on a Greener Best Practices Guide for B&Bs and Inns, sharing what we’ve learned in the development and day-to-day running of our business.

We embrace our responsibility as stewards of the environment and help others to understand what that means. Our eco-education immersion weekends for college students are said to have changed lives. Our seminars and work exchange programs bring green concepts to life. We teach natural building, organic gardening, canning and food preservation, bread baking, and much more. Our “Artist in Residence” program hosts visual artists for ten days to create art and share skills with members of our community.

We take immense pride in the Milkweed Mercantile, experience great joy in supporting our local community, and are so grateful for our loyal guests. If we are fortunate enough to win a Green America grant, we will use the funds towards hiring a gardener to design, plant, and harvest a Demonstration Garden and create an accompanying Education Program. Food is such an integral part of the travel experience of our guests – they get to watch us cook real food from scratch, using organic vegetables from the neighbor’s garden, organic grains from a nearby farm, and milk from cows and goats who actually get to eat grass and wander around in the sunshine. We share our recipes and philosophy as we all sit down for meals together at one big table, finding connections, and building bridges. By hiring a gardener we are able to support our belief that paying farmers and gardeners a living wage elevates us all. We also believe that by encouraging and assisting others in becoming more knowledgeable about where real food comes from we can foster positive change, become healthier, and make the world a better, greener place. We appreciate your support!

 Zig  tomatoes

Construction of the Mercantile. You can huff and puff, but these bales aren’t going anywhere.

One of our canning seminars. Look at those gorgeous heirloom tomatoes!

Room Lunch

One of the B&B rooms. We love the organic, rounded shapes created by straw bale walls.

One of our lunches – except for the figs and the walnuts, everything is local and homemade.

Kurt Group

Kurt assembling our composting toilet.

A college class that came to visit.

No forks Knife Pizza
We’re family-friendly, and especially enjoy hosting birthday parties. No forks required.

Owners Alline and Kurt (she was pulled out of the kitchen for the photo, hence the knife).

One of our hand-crafted pizzas, with fresh spinach and homemade mozzarella.

Mercantile

Our strawbale building with wraparound porch – great for a glass of wine in the evening!