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All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 93
Persons: 4
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 34927
Region: Alberta

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Last Updated: February 21, 2017

Spirit Hills is an organic homestead, bee farm and winery in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Calgary, Alberta. We are looking for people who want to learn to live of the land and would enjoy the cultural experience of living and working with us and to share the sweat, treasures, pains of joys of such a life.

We grow all of our own food, have chickens for eggs, used to have goats for milk and cheese but not this year, horses for pleasure and play, bake bread and hunt for meat. We keep 300 bee hives and continuously expand our apiary. We breed our own queens and hives. All our honey is turned into wine in our small but hailed winery. All our wine is sold through liquor stores in Alberta and Saskatchewan and at 5 Alberta farmers market. We love to share our home and experience in return for help with the garden, the bees, the animals and household chores. In 2017 we plan to start an orchard and vineyard to source our berries and the first grapes in Alberta. We apply organic and bio-dynamic practices in everything we grow.
The type of work depends on the season but includes things like seeding, weeding, harvesting, canning, blanching and freezing vegetables, pickling, butchering, making firewood, picking fruits, making jam, baking bread, making fermented vegetables, wine making, beer making, bee keeping, honey harvest, making granola, cooking, cleaning, baking, bottling wine, selling wine at farmers markets or liquor stores, cleaning up the property, building bee materials, feeding life stock, cleaning shelters, composting, knitting and more.

We can run long but rewarding days. The seasons, weather, bees and wine set the schedule. Mother nature does not work on a 9 to 5 schedule and is most often not open to negotiations. You get the work done or loose the crop or hive, and so those trade offs set the pace of life on the farm. We take most Sunday's off and take breaks when the weather does not allow us to work, or when the bees, the wine and garden do not need us.

This is our third year on HelpX, but we have been wwoof hosts for 6 years and are used to have travelers living and working with us, and we enjoy it a lot. For 2017 we are looking for help from March until December. Our minimum stay is 4 weeks. We are looking for people who want to learn how to live of the land as they will find the biggest reward during their stay.

Besides farm work, we make sure our team of helpers and wwoofers get to see and experience places and events that few tourist would get access to so that they all leave inspired and enriched.

The vast majority of our volunteers comes from the wwoof website where we have a ton of raving reviews. So here are a few of those reviews:

Jennifer Roling 2 shared a post with Hugo Bonjean

Hey Hugo, hey Ilse,

We write this text on our second two month-stay here on you spirit hills honey winery. And we know we come back for another month in June. I mean that shows how much we love it here. We don't even know how we can go back to Germany because we will miss it so much!!!

- your amazing family with eveythink around it. It gets never boring and everybody is trying to make your wwoofing expirience as good as possible!!

- your spiritual and special Farm with all the lovely animals around it!

- your family dinners where you really get the feeling to be part of this awesome Community!

- the Sundays where you can do what you want. We had like 20 Sundays here and we still haven't seen everythink around here. There are to many nice places!

- the interesting work where you learn something new everday. To work with the bees or to help making wine is absolute exiting!

Thank you soo much for all the expiriences we had here!! And we are soo happy to come back!!!

Lalau Charlotte shared a post with Hugo Bonjean

Woofing at Spirit Hills Winery was a wonderful experience. We stayed for one month with the Bonjean family and we learned so much about farming and so on. Our advice ? Don't hesited to go there. Spirit Hills Winery follows totally the concept of Woofing. You will find a loving family with a lot to share. We didn't speak english very good but it was really easy to understand each other. Before coming, we sent a couple of emails and we rode completely the profile, and we didn't have any bad surprises. Work is exactly as it is described (excepted for the goat part because they don't have goat anymore). During our stay, we met the Bonjean family, and a lot of great people of the extended family. We had great days off (we borrow the van and went to the Waterton provincial park), and a lovely time with everyone. Thank you Ilse for the cooking and knidding skills, for your stories, Hugo for your explanations and your motivational speech.

With love,

Audrey & Charlotte

Renee Poole shared a post with Hugo Bonjean

We had a fantastic time at Spirit Hills! The entire Bonjean clan really take you in as part of the family and you will definitely experience what is involved in building a business from the ground up while staying true to your ideals. Hugo is a great mentor, you will always have in-depth chats with him and he is a font of knowledge on many different topics. If you have questions or arguments on anything to do with sustainability, global community etc. this is one of Hugos favourite topics!The work is plentiful, varied and enjoyable, be prepared to get up close and personal with some bees which is awesome (again Hugo has lots to teach here!). You will be busy but always feel appreciated and know that you are an important part of the team. If the varied work during the day isn't enough fun, sitting around the dinner table with wine, board games and EXCELLENT conversation is a perfect way to end the day. Accomodation is comfortable, the food is great and the company unbeatable. A great place to WWOOF, enjoy!

PACQUE shared a post with Hugo Bonjean

hi there,

we just finished a one year trip in wwoofing and SHW was our first experience and probably one of the best.

We really learn a lot about organic farming, sustainability and life in general.

the best thing with hugo's familly is the global acting for their thoughts,they have global way of thinking and they apply it daily.

that means work hard,use your brain and be true..they really struggle for their dreams and communicate to you un uncredible energy for your own project.

well, my English is still very basic but if you want to learn more about you and about organic farming, just go there and trust them! it was awesome..


Rebecca Tattersall shared a post with Hugo Bonjean

I can honestly say that I had the pleasure of staying with Hugo & his family for 5 interesting months from August to December. I think during my stay I got to enjoy all the the seasons that effect their sustainable living & winery. I arrived during the honey extraction which was messy yet delicious work. As well as the extraction I had the chance to go out & work with the bees, harvest the garden, prep the vegetables for the year, help make the wine, sell the wine & carve up meat following hunting season. I ate the best steak I've ever had in my life thanks to Hugos amazing barbecue skills. It's all in the smoke! During my stay they weren't just hosts, they became family. Hugo, Ilse, Bjorn, Fabian, Heather & Amber. I met some fantastic people & I look forward to seeing them again later in the year for Fabian & Heathers wedding.

While my time was fun it was also hard work. I worked 6 days a week & they were full days so anyone looking to take it easy & relax this isn't the place for you. However if you like to learn & are ready to get stuck in while having a good time this is the place to be.

To stay at Spirit Hills You need to be open minded, flexible & have a good sense of humor. You also need to be able to occasionally tell them to clean up after themselves. There's always so much to think about with the winery that sometimes they need to be reminded of things that are in the here & now. Don't be afraid, they don't bite :)

The dogs are loving & daft while the horses are a little more aloof but they will let you pet them. I unfortunately was unable to ride them as I don't really have any experience and there's no time for training so unless you have riding history the likelyhood of you being able to ride is minimum. Ilse however is the master of clicker training so if there's anything you want to know just ask.

This is a very passionate family & you should bring your own passion with you. I wish all future woofers a great time & enjoy :)

ZaneMurray shared a post with Hugo Bonjean

I came to Spirit Hills as a new WWOOFer and I knew when I was first welcomed (luckily for me on a lazy Sunday afternoon session) that I was in the right place to find new friends, lessons and experiences. I had little to no experience with bees yet still Hugo and his son Bjorn managed to get me out in the thick of the hives. I have found great love for farming on this property, the self sustainability of it all is very inspiring! I highly reccomend WWOOFers of any age or experience to come and see what Spirit Hills can offer them.

Judith_Schmitz shared a post with Hugo Bonjean

Spirit Hills has been my first wwoofing-home, and for sure it was the best place to start!

It is incredible how Hugo & Ilse are able to inspire and teach you so many things not only about farming but also about living a sustainable life.When I arrived there I felt very confused of my life in Europe, full of bad food, technical stuff and so many people without any connetions of nature left. Spirit Hills is definitely a place to find the strength and peace in yourself to live a life free from social standards that might hold you back from living to your full potential.

When I arrived the garding season was about to start, so I became the 'gardening girl'. I always thought my green thumb is terrible, but thanks to Hugo I learned so much that I was able to see a fully blooming and growing garden when I returned for a second stay about 6 weeks later. It's incredible to see how you, on your very own, are able to get your own, healthy food without any chemicals.This farm always made my day full of work, but also full of fun and joyness, I've never been more satisfied by the end of the day than on Spirit Hills. :-)

Everybody who's searching for the right mixture of learning about sustainablity, working on a farm and having fun all along: Go go go for it!

I can just say thank you again, Hugo and Ilse, for letting me be a part of your awesome life & showing me that I can achieve everything I want on my own.I'm still talking about you guys all the time, the power of your place is still sensible for me.Hopefully I can come back sometimes!

Lots of love,Judith

Simone Steiner shared a post with Hugo Bonjean

It´s hard to leave the magical place Spirit Hills if you´re there one time, just to let you know! Such great and lovely people! I ended up coming back for a second time and stayed 1 month instead of 10days! I really enjoyed my time while living and working with Hugo, Ilse and the other wwoofers. Both are really awesome and inspireing. They already have so many live expiriences which they share with you! Some days are harder and longer then others, but you always have time to think about yourselve, the nature, life and just be in the moment while working in nature and enjoy afterwards good company while eating, drinking wine, dancing, playing games...together!I learend a lot about gardening, wine making, bees, honey, milking goats, a different way of thinking and living and just enjoy life.Thank you for that! I´ll never forget this time! I´m still talking about you guys a lot!! Hope you´re doing well!One day I´m gonna come back to Canada and visit you!!

Lots of Love!Simone

reviews (6)
Helper: Annie Nowak Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Canada Date: October 12, 2016
This was my first helpx experience and I stayed from August 26-October 4. I l... view complete review

Helper: Alexia Marchett Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: France Date: October 9, 2016
We were at Spirit Hills for August and it was a paradoxal experience. Good... view complete review

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Helper: Dóra Kispál Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Hungary Date: December 12, 2015
It was shocking to me to read the negative reviews of Spirit Hills winery. Un... view complete review

Helper: Bastien and Peiyin Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: France Date: November 24, 2015
We learned a lot of things (bees, garden, building,...), so for that it was a... view complete review

Helper: Julien and Helene Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: France Date: September 22, 2015
Hugo and Ilse are nice, funny and thoughtful people. It was nice for us to... view complete review

Helper: Teyen Widdicombe Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United Kingdom Date: May 21, 2015
I visited for all of an hour before figuring out that this guy is already ric... view complete review

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