*** We would like to start planning the 2020 season now so feel free to contact us well ahead of time to secure your stay ***
We are Janita, Josh, Ursula, and Ida, a growing family in beautiful rural Ontario. We live in a small village on a residential property that is adjacent to Janita's parents farm. We will have many projects going on next spring and summer as we slowly build up our little homestead.
We are open minded and curious people with many interests. We are always striving to live more in harmony with natural ecological processes, and we are interested in sustainable and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, forestry, rotational grazing etc. We manage a very small patch of land right now (approx 1 acre), but we are planning to expand our operations and raise more food each year. We are always thinking about how to build community and to live as much as possible in harmony with the land. Climate change and other ecological crises loom large in our minds, and we are doing the work of preparing to be resilient and adaptive in facing the challenging times ahead.
Eventually we would like to run a commercial regenerative agriculture operation focused on restoring soil health and biodiversity in our gravely overcultivated rural landscapes, but for now we are building skills and systems on a small homestead scale. We are looking for workawayers who share similar interests and who can help us make this dream a reality.
Josh is a doctoral student at nearby Queen's University in the field of Cultural Studies. His research interests include the philosophy of ecology, and Mahayana Buddhism. He has worked in many different jobs, including running a tree-service, and working as a gold-prospector in the Yukon Territory.
Janita is a printmaker, studio manager, and artist who works with other printmakers in the area. She is also a singer, and she is involved in the local community group SONG, a choir and charity that helps low-income children get involved with music.
Ursula is a very active and energetic 4 year old. Right now she is curious about letters and numbers, the days of the week, how stars form, where food comes from, what dying means, how to be kind to our animal-brothers and sisters, gymnastics, and many other things. She loves making up pretend games and roleplaying, and she really loves playing outside.
Ida is 9 months old. She is a very smiley and happy baby. Her work mostly consists of trying to stand and putting things in her mouth.
Babysitting / child care
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
We are very interested to learn from you about your home culture (even if you are from Canada - every region is different, even if only subtlely). This includes language. We speak a little bit of French and a little bit more Spanish. It would be amazing to be able to practice Spanish in exchange for a little bit of tutoring in English as well. Certainly other languages are also of interest to us, we are curious about them all! We are also interested to learn about the different ways people experience the world.
Things you might learn about staying with us: gardening, animal care, horticulture, basic maintenance of tools, fences, basic carpentry skills, tree work skills , chainsawing etc., cooking, child rearing.
There is also the exposure to the kind of alternative homesteading life that we are striving to lead, influenced and shaped by broader North American culture but certainly trying to shift away from consumerism and wastefulness that characterizes so much of it. We will be consuming very little digital media while you are here, focusing on working with the plants, animals, and the land, and each other.
We offer have a flexible schedule, 5 hours of help a day for 5 days, with 2 free days a week.
We have a large no till vegetable garden. We will need to do a lot of work to prep the garden with mulch and ground cover, as well as amending the soil, weeding, edging, and planting. Next year we plan to expand the garden considerably so we will need help with that.
Sometimes we go into nearby hardwood forests to harvest trees to prepare for the next years' heating needs. We heat our home with a wood stove, and we always have plenty of work to do with cutting, splitting, stacking, and moving firewood. This is always fun, hard work, and we can definitely use some help this year. We need help splitting and stacking the firewood that we cut from the forest last year. We use axes and hydraulic woodsplitter.
Each year we raise 50+ chickens for meat as well as egg layers for our family. This coming year we hope to expand our pastured broiler chicken raising by rotating chickens through paddocks. If all goes well we will also be adding some pigs and/or sheep into the mix. At some point we will slaughter the meat birds, and there will be work cleaning out the chicken coop and turning the manure to make compost.
Although our property is less than 1 acre, we are actively working to reintroduce native tree species around the property and on the neighbouring farmland. Two years ago we planted 75 maple, birch, and pine trees. One of our major goals is reforestation and expansion of woodlands in our area as well as generally working to improve biodiversity by managing and improving wildlife habitat.
We also intend to plant a number of fruit trees near the house for a mini-orchard.
Speaking of fruit, we are avid cider makers and you will have a chance to help make and learn about fermentation etc.
There are a few building projects ongoing, including putting trim on the dormers of our house. Carpentry skills are not necessary but could be very useful.
English, Spanish, French
In the home:
We have a beautiful second floor guest bedroom suite including a bathroom that our workawayers (up to 2) can stay in. There is a double bed and a single bed. We sleep downstairs. There is a lot of space to hang out upstairs after work, but you will also be welcome to mingle with us in the rest of the house and also hang out outside.
Depending on your cooking skills and interests it may be that there is some kitchen work. Mainly we want to work together to keep a very clean and tidy space that everyone can enjoy. There will be 3 meals a day. Dinner will be collective, as will lunch, more than likely, but breakfast will be a fend-for yourself affair. There will be lots of cereal, fruit, yogourt, eggs, bread etc.
We are not vegetarian but we can accommodate vegetarian diets here. Vegans are welcome but they will have a harder time as we won't cater to their needs. We enjoy our fresh eggs from our hens, and we try to source our meat locally and ethically.
Our two little kids are extremely vivacious and energetic, and they will probably take a great interest in you and want to play. If you are good with children and enjoy spending time with them that is a big bonus, but you will not be expected to be a babysitter. That said, it will be much better if you enjoy little kids and are comfortable engaging with them.
If you come from abroad you will likely be coming into Toronto Pearson Airport. Depending on your arrival time we can pick you up there. If you are already in the city, you can take the GO Train to Oshawa and we can get you from there. There are also buses that go to Peterborough. We can discuss your particular transit needs.
Our neighbour to the East is the 100 acre Fifth Wind Farm, which is the home of Janita's parents Henry and Joanna. Joanna and Henry run a very large organic vegetable garden, and Joanna is an energy psychotherapist who also has a natural skin-care products business. Henry is a carpenter and home-builder by trade who now works developing experimental natural building materials and techniques. Two of his model homes have been built on the farm and one of them is currently under construction. There are always 3-8 workawayers or other volunteers living at the farm, and this is a great opportunity for socializing after work and on weekends. There are often campfires and music late into the night on weekends. Also, there may be a few days when we don't have a lot of work to do here, and we might ask you to join the bigger crew working on projects up at Fifth Wind.
We are situated in the rolling hills of Northumberland County. Our village is 10 minutes north of the nearest town, Cobourg, which has all the amenities for shopping and restaurants, as well as a famous sandy beach on Lake Ontario. The town of Port Hope, 10 minutes away, is one of Ontario's most historically preserved towns, and is filled with great restaurants and antique shops. Just 5 minutes drive north of us is Rice Lake, which is a popular fishing spot. We are about 1.5 hours east of Toronto, and it is definitely possible to catch a bus or a train into the city without too much trouble. Also, 45 minutes to the north of us is Peterborough, a lively university town with interesting shops and music events etc.
If you are interested in hiking and natural scenery there is the Northumberland Forest and the Ganaraska Forest a few minutes drive away, and there are many opportunities to walk through the country roads or bike around. (we MAY have bikes fixed up by May).
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
5 hours a day, 5 days a week