Experience living off-grid in a rural setting, Ontario, Canada




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  • Description


    I live in an off-grid, straw bale house on 15 acres (6 hectares) of land in the country just outside of the small town of Buckhorn, Ontario. I designed and built the house myself (I actually had lots of help from volunteers to build it). It has a rainwater collection system and the primary electrical energy source is solar. I am happy to answer questions and teach about the renewable energy systems in my house and in the installations that I do for other people (I own a renewable energy business).

    I like to emphasize a few things from my profile just to make sure that everyone has a positive experience at my place. My home is vegetarian, but I do drink milk and eat eggs. Volunteers must be non-smokers. And finally, I am fairly sensitive to many fragrances, so I ask volunteers to avoid strong colognes and perfumes (essential oils seem to be fine).

    That might make me sound anal retentive, but I am actually very easy going in general.

    I have a cat named Pumpkin. He is not vegetarian, but he doesn't smoke either (at least not that I have seen).

    I am looking for Workaway volunteers who are interested a placement of up to two weeks. Some of the jobs for volunteers include gardening, landscaping / yard work, splitting and stacking firewood, and various building projects. Domestic chores in the house are also a possibility. Pumpkin the cat demands a certain minimum amount of cuddling per day or he complains to management.

    I don't mind showing you how to do a job if you do not already have the skills to do it. I am also flexible about the work hours; if you are a morning person and want to start early and have the afternoon / evening off that is fine, but you can also split up the work throughout the day if that is more your style.

    I have a couple of bicycles here that you are welcome to use if you want to see some of the countryside.

    There are two rooms to choose from. One is smaller than the other but it is more private. The upstairs room is large and has a nice view of the pine cathedral ceiling, but it is "open concept" and therefore less private. There are two bathrooms that are shared by all of us. The kitchen, dining room, living room are shared as is the clothes washing machine.

    I often work on job sites and I may be away from home for a large part of the day, so volunteers should be comfortable on their own. I am usually back for dinner which I am generally happy to make for everyone here.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    DIY and building projects
    General Maintenance
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help with Eco Projects
    Help around the house
    Help with Computers/ Internet

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Travellers will hopefully develop an appreciation for living sustainably with a small ecological footprint in an off-grid rural setting. Ideally they will understand that living this way is not at odds with living comfortably.

  • Projects involving children

    Projects involving children

    This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.

  • Help


    One of the least glamorous jobs would be to help with a spring cleaning. This could be done on days when the weather is not suitable for outdoor work.

    I started building an eco-bunkie using reclaimed materials, locally sawn lumber, and straw and earth construction and I would like help finishing that this year.

    I have a number of other potential projects that I could use help with including, but not limited to, weeding the gardens, picking fruit / vegetables, repairing straw bale walls, clearing trees (for firewood and lumber), field stone retaining wall construction, preparing / clearing area for new gardens.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent

  • Accommodation


    I have two bedrooms available in my home on the second floor and a small, more private bedroom on the first floor that are available to volunteers. The house is open concept. The kitchen, dining room, living room, bathrooms and sitting area are shared.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    There are many lakes and rivers in the area (as well as an excellent Canoe Museum in Peterborough). There is a local winery called the Kawartha Winery just down the road. The Trent-Severn Waterway runs right through Buckhorn. North Kawartha Provincial Park is also close by. There is a lovely beach just west of Buckhorn on Sandy Lake called Sandy Beach (not the most creative names, I admit).

    There is a berry farm about 5 or 10 minutes drive from my house. They have a large pumpkin festival in September every year.

    There are a number of farmer's markets in the area.

    Those interested in natural building would be able to see a large number of buildings in the area that have been built over the last 10 or 15 years.

    Because I am located in the country, most of the other points of interest would require at least a bicycle or other mode of transport. I am frequently out and about and so it is possible that I could drop and /or pick up Workawayers who wish to visit local sites and sounds.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Can host digital nomads

    Can host digital nomads

    My internet download speed is about 8 Mbps and the upload speed is about 0.6 Mbps.

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    Volunteers are welcome to bring a camper van but there would be no utilities (water, sewer, electricity) available for the van.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    5 hours/day and 2 day per week off

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Host ref number: 144336863458