Not accepting the current system of extraction and exploitation, we stepped out of mainstream society and into the forest, in search of healthier ways of living with each other and the planet
The age of fossil fuel powered industrial civilization is rapidly coming to an end.
What comes next is up to us.
In these uncertain times, developing self sufficient and resilient communities through ecological and cultural regeneration, and helping each other along the way, are the most important things we feel we can do.
Guided by the concepts of Permaculture design, regenerative agriculture, 8 Shields and Buddhism, we are developing a wilderness homestead, regenerative farm, intentional community, and education center for life in the post industrial era.
Our community is comprised of a core group of extended family members and a widening circle of friends, colleagues, team members and volunteers.
We share a vision of living in balance with the earth, in harmony with each other, and at peace within ourselves.
We are drawn to the teachings of the Buddha, and aspire to live in accordance with this philosophy. We value spiritual exploration, and the journey of discovering what it means to be alive on this planet, and we are open to all beliefs and traditions that promote peace and awakening.
We believe that learning how to live a lifestyle in line with our beliefs and values, and sharing our experiences and process with other people is the most direct and practical way we can create positive change on the planet.
Help with Eco project
Located on Salt Spring Island off the coast of British Columbia, the land is part of the coastal Western Hemlock bio-geo-climatic zone. Commonly known as a temperate coastal rainforest because of the cool summers and mild, wet winters, which support highly complex and productive forests, this region is home to a tremendous amount of plant and animal life.
The land is nestled in a large plateau near the top of Mt Tuam. Selective logging in 2000 has left the land as a mix of young and mature forest, with small fields and a large outcropping of rock breaking up the gently sloping ground. Several streams wind across the land connecting a series of ponds and wetlands together. Before we arrived there was no human infrastructure other than a network of logging roads, and a drilled well.
The forest is a mix of Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Grand Fir, Western Red Cedar, White Pine and Red Alder. Three Big Leafed Maples, a willow and a Pacific Yew are scattered through the forest. Stinging nettles, foxglove, daisies, thistles, oceanspray, mullen, salal, Oregon grape, various mosses, lichens, ferns and lots of grasses make up the understory. Many species of insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals live in, on, and above the land.
We currently have about 1500 sq. ft. of no till raised garden beds, planted with a variety of vegetables, herbs, medicinal plants and beneficial insect attracting plants. The beds are irrigated with a gravity fed, low pressure drip system. This year we will expand the drip system, create more garden beds and increase the density of our plantings to better use the space we have. Amending the soil with compost and compost teas and mulching help us build fertility as we increase production. The garden is a central hub of activity and learning throughout the growing season with lots of work involved in preparing beds, planting, tending, harvesting and preserving the food that’s grown.
The Food Forest
We are turning 2.5 acres of land of logged and planted forest into a food forest. We are processing the existing trees into firewood, building materials and wood chips in order to make best use of the legacy of the forestry industry as we transition the land into a diverse polyculture of productive and beneficial species. After digging a swale & berm system to passively irrigate the plants, we will lay out the beds and pathways, build up the soil in the beds with pond soil, compost, compost tea and cover crops, mulch the pathways and then plant our first fruit trees in the fall!
Living in a temperate rainforest means we spend a lot of time working with trees. We will learn about the species currently on the land as we make space for new species to be planted, and clear areas for future buildings. Learning how to manage a forest for long term health and resilience is critical to being able to steward this land. Learning the skills of forest management such as operating a chainsaw, falling trees with directional assists, milling felled trees into useful products, bucking trees on the ground into firewood, and chipping the small branches to use around the farm are all essential aspects of our eco-forestry practices.
As we prepare to plant the food forest and add more functional species to the existing forests we will set up a plant nursery to help us build up plant stock. The nursery will be a space where we will keep young plants alive until they are ready to go into their home in the ground, and where we can propagate more plants from existing plants. Having adequate water, soil media, pots and shade for the tender young plants are all aspects of the nursery that we will design into the site and then set up in time for fall planting.
To grow all the plants we want to, we are going to need huge amounts of soil. We have developed a number of different ways of building soil and we want to expand on all of them this year.
We are making huge piles of compost with the wood chips from the trees that come down, as well as food scraps and plants harvested from the land.
We are also creating biologically active compost using Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web method. These compost piles are smaller and require more care and attention than the wood chip piles, but they yield a much higher quality compost. From this compost rich in soil micro-organisms we make compost tea & extracts to increase the number of organisms and then apply this to the soil and plants.
We have been experimenting with making biochar and this year we will continue to refine the process and make larger quantities of biochar to add to the soil.
We’ve set up a vermicomposting system and harvest the worm castings and leachate to add to our compost and compost teas.
We also mulch with hay, cardboard and wood chips to cover the garden beds, paths, bare soil and the compost toilet barrels.
We’ve recently decided to expand our fencing to enclose most of the land from the deer that overgraze the islands flora. This will allow us to plant anywhere we want on the land, and will allow the naturally occurring plants that are eaten by the deer to grow back. In the garden area that’s currently fenced in we are already seeing several native species including arbutus starting to grow up from the seed bank in the ground.
Learning how to pound the metal T-posts into the ground, lay out and attach the fencing wire and build the gates to allow human and vehicle traffic into the fenced area is a fundamental skill for any homestead or farm.
We have been designing a rainwater collection, transport and storage system for several of our small outbuildings and this season we will complete the installation! This will involve placing the water storage tanks on a foundation, installing the water lines from the tanks and connecting the gutters and downspouts to the water lines.
As our education program expands so does our need for proper infrastructure to support the learning. We have been designing a combination indoor outdoor learning space that will feature a modified cargo container with a cobb bench rocket stove for heated indoor learning and hang out time. This season we plan to get the cargo container in place, modified, and the stove and bench built inside, as well as the outdoor landscaping to create the start of a beautiful and functional learning space.
compost hot water
A big compost pile generates a lot of heat, enough to heat a water line running through the center of the pile. You get free hot water while the pile decomposes and a bunch of soil at the end of the process. Sounds almost too good to be true…let’s see if it’s possible.
slow sand filter
We have started building a (not so) simple slow sand water filtration system to provide clean drinking water without the need for energy or high tech components to power it. This season we will finish the filter and have a toast to clean water!
After building a small greenhouse to grow tomatoes and basil in last season we want more protected growing space! So we are planning to build both a sliding greenhouse and a geodesic dome greenhouse.
We’ve lived without a decent way to wash in the winter for the past three years and the time has finally come to invest in comfortable winter washing. Of all the ways, a wood fired sauna seems like the best option so we’re going to build one!
Our accommodation options are still fairly limited but in the warm weather things are perfectly comfortable
Bringing a tent and sleeping gear is your best option.
There is a canvas wall tent with cots for groups or couples.
We have a basic outdoor kitchen complete with all that's needed to cook and eat well, composting toilets, solar powered shower and solar usb chargers and portable power packs to charge devices.
We live and work almost completely outside so come prepared to get intimate with nature!
Salt Spring Island is a great place to get lost for a while. The island is packed with natural beauty and friendly, interesting people. The towns are quaint and full of art galleries, delicious food, cafes and vibrant markets. And there are also countless gatherings, ceremonies, workshops and educational programs being offered all over the island.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
max 25 hours with 2 days off