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Nearly everything we do is in support of one thrill: adventures in food. Come join us and get a broad feel of rural life. If you want to work hard, eat marvellous meals and learn lots about making them you should consider us.
The garden season is over here and we are moving inside: maintenance, building, woodwork AND NEW RECIPES!! Last winter was macarons, marshmallows and flatbreads; what do you want to master this winter? Yes, the season change means that less assistance is needed but we would welcome you persuading us that your passion fits with ours, Persuade us that together we we can discover so much more.
We are foodies (also Workaway travelers ourselves) far from the centres and trying to help create a culture of great food around us: for ourselves, for our friends and in the community. We are also trying to make that happen as much as is possible using local foods, neighbour's offerings , and our own produce. That is where we hope you will assist us; in particular, managing the gardens to keep their abundance coming. (not vegetarian)
We are looking for 2020 assistance now (February and beyond) but our exchanges have been so successful for all and so much fun that I am sure we will keep doing them. People already thinking beyond 2020 are welcome to send questions. And yes, those who have lots of life experience are welcome.
This is a place that keeps heading in several directions at once. We have ornamental and veggie gardens, host dinner parties and brunches emphasizing fine dining, hold cooking classes, grow, can and preserve. We are 20 minutes outside of our little town and hours from the nearest city. We are not a farm; mark us down as hobbyists who have let their want-to-dos grow too large for their able-to-dos. The exchange we offer will let you dabble in all those things alongside us, about half outside; half in.
If you want to get a full taste of a rural lifestyle; if you want to garden, build things and especially learn new skills in cooking, canning and baking; if you want to do all this at a relaxed pace far from the city and its distractions then our petite auberge might be the place for you. And yes, you will get to eat marvelous meals.
In our main season you will be involved in planting, watering, weeding, feeding, and deadheading. You will be called on to assist in woodwork, construction and general maintenance. You will assist in harvest, processing, canning, drying, fermenting, preserving and storing seasonable abundance; increasing the life of the food we grow or acquire. Your help will be a key in making sure we have a continuous supply of product to centre our meals around.
Incidentally, we are remote only in the sense that there is no major city nearby and no mobile phone service or broadcast television. We have gas in the kitchen, satellite internet and Wi-Fi and pretty well every other on-grid service. All of our interns so far have been able to keep in contact family and friends using Skype or a similar application.
Cooking / shopping
Help in the house
Help with Computers / internet
1. Chances to experience rural life without being totally isolated, all its warts and benefits and a taste of the skills important to sustain it.
2. And, If you choose, in-depth exploration of food processing and preparation at an artisanal level. This is an experiential opportunity truly uncommon.
We are near Barkerville, the restored 1860's gold rush town, well worth a couple of days. The Bowron Lakes just beyond is a world-famous canoe circuit. On the way to Barkerville is Wells, a 1930ish re-purposed mining town now an artists’ colony and hideaway that is open some days. First weekend in August is ArtWells, an arts and music festival that lives by helpers. Near our home is the Alexander Mackenzie Trail, the route used by the first Europeans to cross North America.
You would have ample opportunity to get away for a week or so and go exploring, maybe paddle the Fraser River or even do the Bowron canoe circuit (we have the gear.) Having your own transportation would help but if you have the license you could ride our scooter. We do not have horses but if you ride we can introduce you to friends and neighbours who do.
Each year we look for someone or a sequence of ones to adopt for the season to be the third member of the family, to assist in getting done all those little extras that are so easy to delay and put off: keeping the schedules, turning the compost, doing the succession planting, thinning the beets, weeding the landscape perennial beds, finishing the fencing and so much more. With three people paying attention to these things we all get more play time and opportunities to try new recipes and there will always be an extra pair of hands to dash out and clip a few more pansies to garnish the veloute. Jenn would have assistance in canning and granola and pesto making. I would not have to fret about all the other must-do's while I spend 2 hours watering the flowers; we would all get the chance to work on some of those woodworking and carpentry projects that never seem to bubble up to the top of the TODO list.
Childcare is NOT one of the things you could be asked to do; no children are on the property.
We have found that the exchanges that work best last a month to six weeks or longer but we will consider shorter stays. (We always hope to find people looking for an extended stay, two months or more, perhaps all season.)
Learning opportunities are hard to define. Your own questions and passions will likely show these. In the gardens we will learn together. You may learn a couple mainstays in the kitchen cooking for family and have a chance to learn some culinary skills an a whole lot more about food from an expert chef.
You will also have opportunities to get more familiar with many of the more common skills needed on a rural property: woodworking and construction, (new shower hut, new dining table, barbeque shelter), plumbing and electrical installation, small engine maintenance, tool sharpening, fencing, picking up dog poop and of course brutal back-breaking manual labour.
There are far too many individual tasks to list them all but there are several general areas where you will work with us:
- garden maintenance in all respects; food, ornamental and landscape
- food preservation;
- general construction and hardscaping;
- general household maintenance.
Work usually begins around 0900; we are definitely NOT early rise-and-shiners.
English and perpetually a beginner's French
Your private spot until the snow flies will be our little travel trailer/caravan with electricity, stove, fridge and heat for the coldest nights. We supply all bedding and towels. In frigid weather you move into the BnB space. We say we can accommodate two Workawayers but SMALL is the key adjective describing the caravan. It can be a nice, cozy space for one person over an extended period but couples might see it as too small.
Most days, your toilet and wash-up sink is in our workshop building; we will ask you to use the sink/toilet in the cottage when we have B&B guests. For now, the bathtub/shower is in the cottage; we all share it. Just a note; the cottage bath/toilet is behind a curtain, not a wall. We have a shallow well that has run dry in the summer. Until the new stand-alone shower hut on the new well is finished, shower time is rationed for all of us and particularly for a couple.
There is no cable or broadcast TV and no mobile phone service either. Wi-Fi is available but our internet connection is by satellite; it is slow and we have limited bandwidth; no Netflix, long Youtubes or big downloads please. You can Skype but limit these calls please. Phone service is also by satellite and has a transmission delay. It is free to anywhere in North America.
Our regular breakfast is granola and yogurt, toast and preserves. You will most often gather it yourself but we occasionally sit down together to bacon and eggs on toast or Jenn’s current elaboration on that theme. We never prepare lunch (unless we are hosting one) but the fixings for sandwiches are available (the fridge is always open.) We almost always prepare some sort of a dinner; you WILL be called to assist getting dinner ready even if it is only setting the table.. You may be guinea pig for a new recipe we are testing; not always spectacular but we have never made anyone sick yet.
Ours is a moderately large home garden which we expand a bit each year. We raise no animals and have no large machinery. We actually have far more area in landscape beds than in vegetables; we see both as having equal value. Ours is a challenging (short season, cold) climate and part of what we seek to do is test the limits of what is possible without horrendous additional inputs. We were told you cannot grow stuff like tomatoes or basil (and definitely not tomatillos) outside of a greenhouse; of course we had to test that and prove it wrong.
We have also spent many years building up and improving the property and our cottage just for beauty’s sake. (If Jenn has a choice between useful and practical OR photo-worthy for Country Living magazine she will always choose photo-worthy.) This is a place that people always seem to feel comfortable wasting time at; we saw that and made it part of why we invite them here. We would invite you in the same spirit.
Ultimately our gardens, our food, our hospitality are about offering the best of oneself in microcosm, at small scale, at the person to person level, the way the world actually works.
Our place is near Quesnel, BC; somewhat near the centre of the province. We are 11km from the nearest store, 22km from the nearest small town, a 2 hour drive from the nearest small city that has a bit of an urban feel and a full day’s drive from Vancouver. We say with a bit of exaggeration that we live in the middle of nowhere and have all the attendant problems and benefits of that. We think we live in the heart of beauty, the quiet, not so spectacular kind.
Our lot is about 2 hectares (5 acres) with about one-fifth of that tamed into gardens and lawn. The other four-fifths are in near-mature second-growth deciduous forest. Some of our challenges come from the fact that we are in a bio-geo-climatic zone called sub-boreal. We are also at about 900 metres elevation: cool nights even after very hot days. Most years frost tender crops have to be protected before mid-June and as soon as September starts.
Jenn was many years a fine-dining chef and works to recapture the thrill. Bruce is a retired industrial forester recruited as sous-chef to Jenn’s insidious intentions. He is also chief labourer, carpenter and general dogs’-body for the plan. We are scientific rationalists, atheists and sometimes pushy skeptics. We will March Against Monsanto because it is a greedy corporate bully but not because it promotes GMO’s. If you are an evangelical Christian, an organic absolutist, an unleavened Woo Wooer, like Trump or take a fervent position on anything based only on unproven belief, I think we would clash; otherwise we might learn from each other.
Do you spend as much or more time talking about food as you do eating it? When you try a new recipe, is the post-game analysis as much of a thrill as the try-outs? Do you agonize over whether kosher salt is an acceptable alternative to fleur de sel? Are your memories of travel as much consumed by the meals you ate as the sights you saw or the things you did?
If you said YES to any of those questions then you are a bona fide FOODIE and might love it here.
Key attributes: not a smoker, tobacco or pot; a morning person rather than a night owl; not shy; inquisitive; ready to question when you do not understand a request. You MUST leave your mobile phone in your space during work times.
This is not day after day of heavy manual labour but you must be capable of some sustained physical effort; there are tables to be moved, stairs to climb, flowers to pick. We would never ask you to work longer than we would and we do love to break for the afternoon and sip rosé on the deck.
You recognize that you are here to learn from us as well as share your skills. Part of that means getting clear on how we want you to do a task rather than how you think it can be done. Yes, you can have a fantastic experience here and a time totally different from the rest of your life but please remember that we are not offering you a vacation.
We strive to offer balanced meals with minimal factory processed foods. Our menus can include wheat-based foods, dairy and any kind of meat including organ meats, all red meats and, in particular, pork. For practicality, we hesitate to offer placement to anyone that will not generally share this diet. (Small problems like a peanut or strawberry allergy or a liver detestation don't count.) We expect you to generally eat what we do and at our dining table; we will not stock special foods for you.
We want you to act like a family member in most respects, make this your home and actively embrace your one-third share of the mundane household tasks. Fun tasks may be calling but there is always laundry and dishwashing and cleaning the toilet among so many other needful tasks.
The only equipment/clothing you will need is your garden wear, stuff you do not mind getting filthy, stained, ripped and damaged; a good pair of boots and/or wellies will be an asset. (We have hand-me-downs you can wear if you are travelling super light.)
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
20 to 25 hours per week arranged as works for both of us.
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