Beautiful small forest farm in the making could use your help getting started in Shawnigan Lake, BC, Canada



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  • Description


    Hi there!

    We're Greg and Tara, living the westcoast-island-life in beautiful British Columbia. We have a 2 acre tiny personal forest with big dreams of making our own small hobby farm amongst the trees.

    Greg works long days out of the house as a sheet metal fabricator and I, Tara work from home, running an indoor/outdoor doggy daycare, and a business consulting service for non-profits. We're in our mid 30s and are a fun, friendly and low-key couple who are working hard to live our dream. We share our home with our young dog, Irie, and two outdoor-only cats, Helen and Cake.

    Weekdays for us usually involve fairly early wake ups, busy days and relaxing evenings. Weekends will usually find us out in the yard working hard or tackling indoor projects when the weather doesn't cooperate...and then relaxing in evenings. We often have company for dinner or drinks around the bonfire, but we also enjoy just lounging around with a glass of homemade wine.

    We both love to learn and love to teach. Greg has a vast amount of construction know-how and a lot of experience building things both big and small, especially with wood and metals. I have a modest amount knowledge of all things music and art, and a vast amount of knowledge on all things dogs.

    We also love to travel, but we put our wanderlust on hold to get an early start on our dream-life, so we do our best to live vicariously through our travelers who visit from faraway (although we have been doing a bit of gallivanting ourselves lately, most recently to Europe for a whirlwind tour). We'd love to meet you and hear all about your travel stories. :)

  • 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
    Animal Care
    Art Projects

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Greg and I are both just beginning to dip our toes into organic farming and homesteadings. We invite our volunteers to learn with us and are always happy to share what we know. We would hope that all our WorkAway guests would leave here feeling that they have new knowledge they can use, as well as a new appreciation for finding their passion in life and making it a reality.

    While neither of us are experts on any one particular thing, we both have a lot of experience and knowledge in many different areas. We're happy to help volunteers by passing on any information or skills we can, particularly on the following subjects:

    - Woodworking, large and small scale
    - Animal care and training
    - Gardening and food preservation
    - Cooking with fresh ingredients
    - Creating cleaning, health, and beauty products from natural sources
    - Wine making
    - Knitting and sewing
    - Music and art
    - General tips and tricks on living on a low-budget, environmentally-friendly, self-sustaining small acreage

    At the same time, we also want our volunteers to have plenty of free-time to enjoy our home, property and community. We invite them to use the art studio and potters wheel, as well as the fully-equipped workshop or sewing area. We'd love to see our guests be able to play a song on an instrument that's new to them, or learn to cook a new meal. We'd be thrilled to see our guests make friends in our neighbourhood and attend some of the free community events that are always happening.

  • Help


    *️*️We are currently looking for a person or couple with carpentry/building skills to come and stay with us for a week or two before September to help construct a very small pavilion and erect a simple, but unique, wire fence. In this situation, we'd ask for you to work on the project with whatever hours you'd like, so there's a lot of room for you to decide what will work best for you. :) *️*️

    We would love to have some help with either specific projects, or with some of our day to day tasks to free up some of our time. Greg has an ongoing back issue that often prevents him from overexerting himself physically, so having someone to help us out with our projects can really make life a lot happier for us.

    Contact us with an idea of what interests you and we'll chat to figure out what'll work best. :)

    Ongoing chores we could use help with:
    - Chainsawing and splitting firewood
    - Helping with the doggy daycare
    - Gardening and landscaping maintenance
    - General household chores like cleaning, laundry and cooking

    Some current/upcoming projects we'd love some help with:
    - Replacing the large outdoor doggy daycare area fence and ground covering
    - Creating a small pavilion in the daycare area
    - Hemming and installing custom curtains in the house
    - Several landscaping projects, including garden bed installation, rock wall building and path laying
    - Erecting a ground level uncovered deck in the back yard
    - Renovating of some of the rooms in the house, including repairing walls, painting, tiling, etc
    - Roofing and repairs of our small outdoor storage space
    - Fixing up of Mable, our 1973 VW camper van

    Some futures projects we're interested in completing if someone had some specific expertise lend:
    - Getting our 1/3 acre future garden up and running (soil building, fence construction, etc)
    - Establishing bee hives
    - Getting our pottery studio up and running
    - Establishing our cellar for wine and beer making
    - Ongoing art and furniture projects
    - Building a small cob outbuilding
    - Converting a small bathroom into a larger bathroom
    - Preparing for our future farm animals (ducks and maybe goats and/or pigs)
    - Continuing mechanical upgrade and improvement of Mable, our 1973 VW camper van

    A great volunteer for our place:
    - Will be very comfortable with dogs
    - Might have experience with constructing, building, renovating and general handy-manning
    - Is physically fit as the majority of our projects involve some muscle
    - Is friendly, trustworthy and respectful
    - Enjoys living in and maintaining a clean and organized home
    - Works hard and takes pride in getting job done right, but knows how to relax and enjoy themselves too!
    - Is traveling with or renting a vehicle as we live in a small town quite a ways outside the cities

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Thanks and blessings!


  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent
    French: Beginner

  • Accommodation



    Each individual or couple will have their own private room with a comfortable bed with bedding and towels. In return, we ask that you keep your room clean, including regular dusting, mopping and laundry.

    There are three bathrooms in the house. We use the two upstairs and you'll be using the guest bath downstairs. Because it's a shared bathroom, we'd ask that you keep it very tidy and clean at all times. The tub/shower combo will only be used by you.

    We have a music room with many instruments to play, and a fully equipped art studio that doubles as our doggy sleeping room. There's an open concept media area, living room and dining room, as well as a sunroom and covered back deck. You'll have access to all the areas, except our bedroom. We do like to use the living room in the evenings to relax most weekday evenings but you'll also have access to our office with a comfy daybed that you could use for a sitting room if you want to hang out somewhere other than your room.

    We have wifi and a landline with free Canada/US calling you're welcome to use.. We have a television in the living room we hook up to our laptops, but we don't have cable or TV channels. If you need computer access, it's best to bring your own laptop, but we can lend you ours if you need to do a quick email check.


    We have some food restrictions that can be really hard to accommodate. Because of this, we like to do things one of two ways with visitors. In both scenarios you'll have full access to our pantry of general food supplies, such as grains, spices, oils and condiments.

    The first option is to have you take care of your own grocery shopping costs and cooking of all meals. If this works best for you, we'll be happy to reduce the hours worked to 3 hours a day.

    The second option is for you to provide us with a weekly grocery list and we'll purchase what you need for you to do your own cooking...and working the full 5 hours per day.

    That being said, we're both pretty good cooks and almost always prepare a home-cooked meal each night and we are happy for you to join us for a shared dinners a few night a week, pitching in ingredients, helping with meal prep and clean up, above and beyond your volunteer hours.

    And of course, you'll be expected to clean up after yourselves in the kitchen, including washing up your dishes, keeping counters cleared and wiped down, and ensuring garbage, recycling and compost are dealt with.


    Often times we might need you to help us out with a project on the weekend or evenings to accommodate our work schedules. Other times we might just hand over a project to you and ask that you get it done as you see fit.

    Either way, whenever possible, we'd like to offer you the opportunity of extremely flexible work hours and days. We'd love for you to want to put in your hours in longer stretches and take a few days off here and there to explore Vancouver Island or just relax! We like to work hard and relax hard, so we want you to have that option as well!


    No cigarette smoking in the house or anywhere on the property, please!

    Because of the doggy daycare, we most likely can't accept furry traveling companions, but please don't hesitate to ask as there may be exceptions for friendly, well-socialized dogs.

    The doggy daycare is run in the main house and dogs can start arriving quite early in the morning during the week, so be prepared to be woken up early by the noise. Also be prepared to be bombarded with up to 11 overly-friendly dogs excitedly greeting you each weekday morning. It makes us happy, but it's not for everyone. ;)

    Greg has to be up at 4:30am so is usually in bed quite early, so we ask everyone is relatively quiet after 9:00pm during the week (we don't have to whisper and tiptoe, just be respectfully aware of our noise level).

    On weekends, however, we often keep late nights and late mornings and often have friends or guests here. It can be rather loud, late...and fun! You will often be invited to join us, if you'd like.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Shawnigan Lake is a gorgeous little town with lots of life to it. It's centered around the lake in the summer with boating, kayaking, wakeboarding, etc happening everywhere. There are countless nature trails in the immediate and surrounding area. The town center is an eight minute walk down the train tracks from our home. It's quite small, but has a few restaurants, a couple corner stores, a coffee house and a gas station. If you need a substantial grocery shop, you'll haveto drive or bus the 10 minutes to Mill Bay or Cobble Hill where you'll find a small selection of stores, banks and pharmacies. Big box type stores like Home Depot and Canadian Tire are located 15 minutes away in Duncan. Victoria is about 35 to 60 minutes away, depending on traffic. The airport and the Swartz Bay ferry terminal is 50 minutes or so from us, and the Departure Bay Ferry is about an hour north.

    There are buses that run from Victoria to us and a small transit system that services us and the nearby towns. Both are reliable but run on a small-town schedule, so aren't as frequent as we'd like. We're happy to give you a lift where you need to go when possible, but probably won't have a vehicle to lend you unless it's summer and you have experience driving very temperamental standard 70's VW vans. There are several options for travel up island if you wanted to get away for a weekend to see the rest of the island. Just message us with questions.

  • 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

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    3 to 5 hours, 5 days a week, with a lot of flexibility

Indoor furniture project in the works.
A backyard visitor.
Cauliflower mushroom we found in our forest.
Irie and one of our outdoor furniture projects.
Greg and Tara visit Rome.
Working in the yard.
Little Irie in our snowy forest.
One of our fairy forest large scale art projects. :)
Backyard sunset.
Some of the daycare doggies.
The kitchen
Covered back deck looking out onto our own private forest. :)
The music room
The wood shed! We heat our house entirely with a wood stove and harvest all of our firewood from our property and the surrounding area. Never ending work!
Future Garden! About 1/3 of an acre. Just waiting on some more clean fill so we can get it started!
Host ref number: 733228534693