All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 30
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 85017
Region: Nova Scotia
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Last Updated: February 14, 2020
We are currently seeking help for the early Spring 2020 season. We are looking for motivated individuals who want to participate in the building of a new farm and gathering place and who are interested in learning about off-grid living, unlearning, and rewilding. We are also offering longer term Intern and Apprenticeship programs this year. Please contact us for more information. It will take many hands to see this vision succeed and we invite you to come and be a part of the journey!
In 2017, following our dream of living in deep connection to our food and The Wild, we found ourselves stepping into the role of stewards of an incredible piece of land on the East Coast of Canada. This was a long way away from our roots in British Columbia, yet one of the few places in Canada that was affordable.
Twisted Roots Farm is located on the west side of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. This unique property is 74 acres in size, consisting of mixed forest with a stunning year-round brook flowing through this lush, magical landscape. We have cleared approximately 4 acres for our house site, pasture, and gardens.
The property is completely off-grid, therefore, we rely on a small solar system for our energy, wood fuel and propane for our cooking and hot water, composting toilets for our you know what, and rainwater collection for domestic, livestock, and garden use.
We do not have a television and our internet service is extremely limited, with cell phone reception available but not overly reliable.
Feeding people and farming in deep relationship with the land is a mighty task, and one that requires a village to fully cultivate. We welcome you to come and be a part of this exciting endeavor!
The main projects for the 2020 season will include:
- Building a cook shack and bunk house
- Increasing garden area
- Planting berry and fruit shrubs/trees
- Improving/creating trails
- Continuing to revitalize old pasture land
- Installing permanent electric fencing
- Building additional composting toilets
- Completing the live roof on our timber frame home
- Improving irrigation and water storage systems
- Milling lumber
- Building movable chicken coops
- Building movable high tunnels
The continuation of a Permaculture Plan for the property is of utmost importance for 2020, with a large focus on increasing growing space and soil fertility, as well as planning for more permanent plantings, such as fruit and berry trees/shrubs. We will also begin to establish permanent pasture areas in order to make the tasks of rotational grazing that much easier! And of course, there is always the ongoing daily routines and livestock management, including milking goats, goat cuddles, and goat hikes, feeding the cows, pigs, chickens, and ducks, collecting eggs, rotating pasture areas, and a variety of other tasks.
What to Expect During Your Stay:
We are looking for people who feel drawn to be part of the creation of a new farm, along with the various social enterprises integral to this vision. This is not an established farm that has been in production for generations, it is a newly planted seed that needs help to grow. This season, we will be looking to host casual volunteers, as well as interns and apprentices. Please contact us for more information about our intern and apprentice opportunities.
Volunteers are asked to work 5-7 hours/day with two days off in a row with a minimum of a one week stay. Your days will be a combination of daily farm routines as well as seasonal projects.
Summers here can be humid and there are bugs from May - August. We suggest you bring a bug net for your head/upper body and light coloured, loose clothing. Rubber boots, work gloves, and a sun hat are also handy items to have around the farm. We have included a list of suggested items to bring at the end of this section.
Due to extreme allergies and a care of this land, we are a non-smoking, scent-free farm. Please do not bring any products that contain fragrance/perfume, including laundry detergent, shampoo/conditioner, soap, hair products, bug repellent, lotions, sunscreen, deodorant, makeup, etc. As we practice organic farming methods, we also do not allow the use of bug sprays/repellents with deet in them and can provide you with a safe alternative. If you need ideas on what products would be suitable, please feel free to ask.
We have a wonderful screened porch (aka sanctuary) beside the brook, which is where we will often be found when in need of a cool dip and a buggy reprieve. Our property is also only a short drive/bike to a variety of local beaches, many of which have incredible white sand with barely any other visitors...they are truly heaven!
Volunteer accommodation consists of a few different options, depending on availability when you arrive. Our travel trailer, Foxy Lady, will be getting an upgrade of a wood stove so that she may accommodate either a couple or a single volunteer in the cooler Spring months. We will also be building a bunk house this year, which will be our own design using a mixture of canvas, milled lumber, and metal roofing. The bunk house will have simple, single rooms with a shared living space and wood stove. We will also be using a similar design to build a cook shack, which will be fully operational throughout the early spring and summer months.
There are also tent platforms available. All of our accommodation options are set in the forest near the beautiful brook and include a foamy, pillow, and a sleeping bag, unless of course, you would prefer to bring your own. We are also open to volunteers who want to bring their own form of accommodation/gear, which could include a tent, camper, trailer, etc. This will need to be discussed prior to arrival to ensure that we are able to accommodate your set-up.
There is a composting toilet available for your use, which is the shared responsibility of the volunteers to empty, clean and maintain. This is just one of the many opportunities to fully immerse yourself in off-grid living! As we do not have running water available yet for our volunteer accommodations, shower facilities include a hot bucket shower. Think simple, clean, and rustic! All of our volunteers over the past two years have been pleasantly surprised at how far a bucket of water can go and just how refreshing it actually is! Volunteers will be required to haul and heat up their own water for showering, all a part of the experience and something that we are very familiar with.
And because we have two dogs and two cats of our own, we aren't able to accommodate other pets.
Meals will be shared and cooked by everyone with communal help with clean-up. We do not provide snacks and if you require certain additional food items other than what we serve at meal times, you will need to provide those for yourself. Since meals are prepared communally, we are not able to cater to specific food requirements or allergies. We believe in a localized diet and therefore, we eat meat, either our own chicken and pork or from other local, ethically raised sources as we increase our own supply. We also cook with lard rendered from our own pigs, so we are unable to cater to strict vegetarians. We honor these beings through our deep gratitude for their lives and the integral role that they have in creating a natural, healthy ecosystem.
Our meals consist of simple, home cooked, whole foods made mostly from scratch, using as much of our own produce as possible. This means that we focus on eating what is in season as best we can. Since localized, healthy food is extremely important to us, we look forward to sharing this passion and skill set with our volunteers.
List of Suggested Items to Bring:
- Rubber Boots
- Rain Pants and Rain Jacket
- Sun Hat
- Loose, Light Colored, Long Sleeve Shirt and
- Overalls or Coveralls
- Work Gloves
- Bug Net (for your head)
- Flashlight/Headlamp with spare batteries
- Scent-free Soap/Shampoo etc.
Things To Do Locally:
Our farm is located just a short drive/bike/walk to beautiful white sandy beaches, where there are no bugs! We are also very close to the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail, which is an old railway bed stretching 92 kms total from Port Hastings to Inverness. We are working to build trails throughout the property, which makes for an extremely pleasant way to spend an afternoon. There is also the Celtic Centre in Judique that promotes the traditional Celtic music of Cape Breton Island and is open every Sunday throughout the winter and daily during the summer.
There are shuttles available from Halifax and Sydney to Port Hawkesbury/Port Hastings, where we would be happy to meet you. There are rideshare programs as well, check out Amigo Express and Poparide for more information. If you are driving, we can provide you with specific directions to our farm.