The EcoGreenHouse was now lush and overflowing with leafy greens of all types: spinach, and chard, and kale, and collards, and arugula, and mizuna, and bok choy, and tatsoi, and parsley, and dark red cabbages. When the commune re-opened the farm stand with fresh greens in January, the lines were even longer than they had been in the fall.
"This year we're gonna need to plant a lot more root vegetables," Luna said one afternoon as they were working in the EcoGreenHouse. "We can build a root cellar and next year we'll have lots of carrots, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, and squash to sell all next winter. Plus all the greens that are bringing in the customers now."
"I want to plant some fruit this year," said Viv. "Strawberries, and raspberries, and blueberries--maybe even some peaches."
"Absolutely," Luna replied. "I want this to be the year we start doing real Protoculture. We should plant fruit trees and nut trees and grow mushrooms on logs. We're gonna need more people than the three of us, though."
Chuck looked up from the plants he was tending. He was wearing a emerald sarong with an amber and orange blouse, but his hands were covered in dirt and his pale green nails were chipped. It turned out he was quite good in the garden. He told Luna and Viv that he had been one of the chief gardeners at Squat Mountain Sanctuary, a queer community in the deep, deep south, and they had had some huge plots of vegetables all around the place.
"I'm up for it," he said. "I love helping things grow." A thought occurred to him after he said this and he blushed.
"Yeah, I can see you're pretty good with plants," Luna said, "but I really want to do more around the farm this year and I'm afraid it's gonna mean that we're gonna need to have a lot more people living here that can work on all this stuff."
"Sounds good to me," Viv said. "So where are we going to find all these communal farming type folks to live here?"
"I plan to put ads in the farming magazines. Surely somewhere there must be some farmers that have always wanted to live on a commune."
"Good luck with that," Viv said.
Chuck had stopped paying attention to the conversation and was staring out the clear plexiglass of the EcoGreenHouse. Viv noticed it and turned her head and followed his gaze and then Luna noticed and followed Viv's gaze.
Wandering through the snow covered fields and heading for the EcoGreenHouse was a woman with short shaggy turquoise hair and a many colored Guatemalan coat. She looked lost.
"Excuse me," she said when she reached the door, "is this the commune?"
Viv nudged Luna. "Well, you said you wanted more people," she whispered.
Luna looked at the woman at the door. Close up she appeared to be a rather attractive woman, probably in her early forties, with a small ring on the side of her nose.
"It is," Luna said to her. "What can we do for you?"
"My name's Barbara. I heard you might be looking for people. I'd like to join."
Chuck whispered in Viv's ear. "It's like she overheard our conversation."
Viv didn't take her eyes off Barbara but gave a slight nod.
"Can you farm?" Luna asked.
"Not really," said Barbara.
"How about cooking or cleaning?"
"Sort of," Barbara said, but she didn't sound enthusiastic.
"How are you at selling things?"
Barbara's face lit up. "I'm great at selling stuff."
Luna sighed. "Okay. Good. Go over to the main house," and she pointed to the building, "and ask for Marge. Tell her to set up a room for you. Do you have much stuff?"
"I have a car load."
"Okay. You can move it in. Then go over to the baked goods stand and tell them that Luna suggested they see if you can work there. Do you like pastries?"
"I love pastries," said Barbara and she licked her lips.
"Great. They can use the help over there anytime you're ready to help."
Barbara trudged back through the snow.
"Nancy and Cat were just telling me this morning that they could use some extra help," Luna said to Viv and Chuck.
"I thought you wanted help for the farming," Viv said.
"We don't really need more help right now with just these greens," Luna said. "This summer is when we're really gonna need the farming help."
"Well, I hope that a whole bunch of people come wandering through the fields this summer, telling us that they want to live here," said Viv.
"That would be great, as long as they don't trample anything."
"I'm visualizing it now," said Chuck.