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help exchange   Host 47560
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All Year: June through October
Area (ha): 200+
Persons: 3
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 47560
Region: Nova Scotia

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Last Updated: July 20, 2018

Our homestead is tucked away on a dead-end gravel road on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, 10 km to downtown Bridgewater, 20 km to Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, or LaHave, 25 km to beaches, and less than 100km to Halifax. We have 20 acres of fertile soil on a gently sloping drumlin hillside, 200 acres of forests and wetlands to explore, and frontage on a pristine spring fed lake. Wildlife is abundant, though kept from the main farm area by our trusty farm dog, and includes ospreys (nesting within view of the field), owls, loons, eagles, songbirds, deer, raccoons, porcupines, pheasants, wood cocks, coyotes, rabbits, and the occasional roaming bear or bobcat.

There are 12 old apple trees, countless wild apples, and wild blueberries in the field, and we are in the process of establishing a diverse perennial crop system of fruit, berries, nuts, and herbs. We have around 2 acres in cultivation for annual vegetable and grain crops (1 acre fenced), and a 20'x48' greenhouse. In the field we are establishing a perennial crop system (fruits, berries, nuts, and herbs) and grow vegetable seeds (which are wholesaled to a local seed company and retailed locally) as well as a homestead-scale vegetable garden. We also raise ducks for home use (eggs and meat).

The heritage post and beam barn is useable, though still undergoing renovation. We have a couple of outbuildings in use as shop spaces, a composting outhouse, and a lovely outdoor shower. There is ample tenting space, beds in our cozy barn loft, as well as our 28' camper bus available for long term volunteers.

We have been farming together for over 15 years in the northeastern U.S. and Nova Scotia, always according to organic principles and standards. We do not even use organic sprays unless absolutely needed, preferring cultural methods of pest control. We add generous amounts of organic matter to our soil, including composted horse manure, leaves, and seaweed we collect from the beach. We use fish/seaweed emulsion as fertilizer when needed, and inoculate plantings with a broad spectrum mychorrizal inoculant.

2018 is Yonder Hill Farm's 7th growing season; thoroughly entrenched in the start-up phase of a diversified operation, we are in the midst of numerous projects.

In addition to barn renovation projects/basic homesteading tasks, the field work varies with the seasons:

June: Bed preparation, planting, and mulching. Mowing. Pasturing ducks.

July: Weed and pest management. Mowing. Livestock chores. Firewood cut, split, and stacked.

August-September: Seed crop harvesting and processing. Mowing. Livestock chores. Wild blueberry harvesting.

October: Seed crop harvesting and processing. Livestock chores. Apple harvest and processing. Storage crop harvesting and preservation. Garden cleanup/bed preparation. Collection of seaweed and leaves.

HelpX volunteers can bring their own tent/borrow one of ours or stay in our rustic accommodations. Board consists of farm raised veggies/fruit, eggs, and basic groceries (flour, rice, oil, pasta, etc). Folks are welcome to come along on town trips to stock up on their favorite foods, or borrow a bike to ride to the local farm market/bakery 5 km down the road, but people have enjoyed staying with us the most when they have had their own vehicle. We enjoy communal meals and are open to incorporating up to one shared meal per day with volunteers. As we are relaxed, easy-going people who prefer flexibility, we would rather allow everyone to be in charge of feeding themselves/doing their own cooking chores, with the option to share family style meals with us when it suits everyone's schedules and needs.

We expect at 4-6 hours of labour per day for 5? days per week (not including basic living chores). Throughout the season, heavy physical work is a must- lifting, wheel-barrowing, shoveling, digging, raking, etc. Establishing a homestead involves a lot of moving things around by hand, in wheelbarrows and buckets. We believe strongly in setting a pace that is both productive and healthy for body and mind, being present and mindful, and taking adequate breaks, but it must be understood that hard physical work is central to small-scale farming and will be a necessary central feature of the experience. That being said, our farm experience includes varied tasks with lots of interesting things going on to learn from. Volunteers need to be self motivated and willing to integrate themselves into our lifestyle.

Our opportunity is ideal for people who enjoy spending most of their time outdoors, enjoy physical work, have interest in living off the land, and are comfortable camping out. We work hard and enjoy relaxing by a campfire, playing music, and swimming in the lake. We have canoes to take out on the lake, and bicycles available to borrow for sightseeing. We are well connected socially with the active and growing rural community on the South Shore. There are frequent social events and concerts, as well as plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities in the area.

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