Our small farm is 8 acres of organic vegetable gardens, forest garden orchards, small and medium livestock systems (hens, geese and goats), forage hedgerows, native woodland, ponds and areas of woodland coppice. This permaculture designed smallholding is home to three generations - James & Rosa (39/29), James’s mother (who lives on the farm) and James’s 6 year old daughter (during holidays) and is situated on the slopes of Tap o’ Noth - a hill and iron-age Pictish hill fort. Tap o’ Noth is 1 mile from our nearest village (Rhynie) and 37 miles from Aberdeen.
As well as a family smallholding we also sell veg boxes and surplus produce to our local community through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) scheme, providing up to 50 families with naturally grown vegetables every week from June-November. We cannot involve you in our market garden activities as an unpaid volunteer because we run the garden as a profitable business. We can certainly help teach you about market gardening and you will gain an insight into this business through the work involved in managing the rest of the farm.
James came to the farm in 2012 and, with a background in permaculture design, built the farm up to function as a smallholding and permaculture demonstration site and education centre (ScotLAND Center for Permaculture Association and PRI ). Rosa came to the farm in 2017 with a background in zoology and urban farming, fell in love with the farm and the farmer and now she and James have been running the market garden together and diversifying the permaculture design with a small herd of dairy goats that Rosa milks daily, making cheese and various other dairy goods.
We are looking forward to hosting volunteers who want to join in and help us with everything you need to do to manage an intricate, diverse and abundant cultivated ecosystem. In return we are happy to help encourage an interest or deepen your awareness of regenerative agriculture, permaculture design and holistic living. Outside (and sometimes during!) our working day we are musical, artistic, love swimming in our pond, sweating in our sauna, taking evening walks with the goats (and a beer!), photography and vlog making, hanging out in our bell tent, learning yoga and how to work with herbs and love talking about and making real food from the ingredients we grow.
We would love to learn from you - perhaps you can teach us yoga, meditation, herbal medicine or how to cook a meal from your own country? Wood working and joinery skills are always much appreciated.
Babysitting / child care
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Help with Computers / internet
You will benefit by living on a working example of sustainable agriculture in a rural community with a diverse blend of people - farmers, artists, musicians. You will learn how to set up a small, diverse market garden/farm and the ins and outs, highs and lows of running an ecological enterprise. You can learn how to milk goats, make cheese, make wine, work with trees and herbs. We can teach you guitar and how to drum even!
In the mornings we do our chores - letting out the poultry, carrying water and feed, watering the polytunnel crops (and gardens if needed) and milking the goats. If you want to get involved with these jobs you can (learning to milk goat is a great skill to have in life!). We usually begin these jobs by 9am.
Otherwise we would love it if you can be available to start your day of volunteering at 10am
Daily schedule: (sometimes the weather can change our working hours ("make hay while the sun shines" or take some down time, it's snowing")
10am - work
Dinner will be around 7pm.
Oftentimes you will be working with James +/ or Rosa but sometimes you will be expected to carry out a job alone or with other volunteers - although we will always be within shouting distance!
Other work experience may be:
Caring for the animals - refilling water/feed, cleaning out houses, harvesting feed
General building and land maintenance
Painting or sign making
New rules on Workaway mean we cannot involve you in our market garden activities as an unpaid volunteer because we run the garden as a profitable business. However there are another 7.5 acres to look after on the farm and we are happy to show you around, or answer questions about, the market garden.
From Feb - May volunteers stay in our house in their own double room/bed with shared bathroom. Help keeping our shared spaces (kitchen and bathroom) tidy is expected. All meals in the house provided by hosts. Rosa is an amazing cook but would appreciate it if you shared some of your own cooking skills!
When the wether is warm enough accommodation is in our large caravan which has one double room and one single, log burning stove, electricity, basic cooking equipment. No mains water at present time, so must be collected from nearby tap.
The caravan can be cold in the evening/morning so a degree of responsibility to maintain the wood stove is needed.
Shower available for use in host's house in the evening from 5pm - 7pm. As we are on a limited water supply (spring water) thoughtful and considerate water use is expected. Compost toilet nearby.
Your breakfast/ morning tea+coffee will be in the caravan (food provided).
Lunch and evening meals (weekdays) to be in host's house (shared cooking/cleaning). Unfortunately because of the type of food we produce on the farm and rely on in our cooking (eggs, milk, cheese) we cannot cater to a vegan diet.
To allow your host some family/downtime all weekend meals will be self catered in the caravan. We will provide basic provisions for these meals.
INTERNET USE: A shared computer is available for use on weekdays between the hours of 9am-7pm.
Also plenty of room to camp.
The farm itself is very pleasant to wander around but the climb up Tap o' Noth hill is a beautiful way to see the local countryside and learn about the history of this area of Aberdeenshire. We have a lovely wood-fired sauna that you can use and a large natural pond for swimming. There are secluded beaches 50 mins drive away plus great seafood places along the coast. We are on the whisky distillery trail. There are art projects in nearby towns (Deveron Projects and Scottish Sculpture Workshop).
Please travel to Huntly and if possible make your way to Rhynie (buses are limited but do exist.) If you can't coincide with a bus then we can pick up from Huntly.)
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
5 hours / 5 days