help exchange   Host 46620
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Help Exchange

All Year: April 15 - Oct 14 2017
Area (ha): 24.7 (61 acres)
Persons: Up to 5, maybe more
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 46620
Region: Ontario

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Last Updated: March 16, 2018

Would you like to experience what setting up a homestead is like from the ground up, drawing on Native American wisdom and permaculture principles?
Do you wonder, like us, if living lightly on the land is possible without compromising the comforts of modern living?
Do you spend much of your time watching Youtube videos, Ted talks and documentaries on alternative technologies that would help you to cope in a world less dependent on fossil fuels, inspire you to live more ecologically, and motivate you to be more creative and resourceful?

If these things interest you and you are in the mood for getting up close and personal with nature - then this is the place for you.

Located in Bancroft, Ontario, on the Canadian Shield amongst the spruces, lakes and beaver ponds, we have started to cultivate a project on our 61-acre plot of land. We are still in very early stages of setting up our homestead so this is a great learning opportunity for many people who would like to know the reality of setting up an alternative lifestyle from the very beginning! We have a long-term vision which you can get a glimpse of at our website but for now our main focus is getting our family set up to live comfortably year round.

The list of jobs is extensive and varies from organic gardening, to construction of various low-impact eco-structures, to landscape development, and a variety of other homesteading activities. Here is a brief breakdown.

Gardening tasks include: organizing and caring for our growing collection of perennials into a forest garden, caring for our newly grafted apple trees, possibly gardening some annual plants
Building tasks include: completing a small scale roundhouse structure, finish building 2 outhouses, a root cellar, a tool shed
Landscaping tasks include: transplanting trees to make natural fences/barriers/hedges, carving out trails, paths and driveways through the property for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and general access
Other always on-going homesteading tasks include: preserving our harvest, harvesting firewood, and maintaining tools, equipment and structures which includes organizing, cleaning, sanding, grinding, painting, and oiling.
Other creative tasks include: making signs for our property and other decorative features, basketry and ornamental weaving from our own harvested wild materials (we are not experts at this yet but would love to learn from someone or learn together!), and other wild crafting such as harvesting plentiful wildflowers for medicinal and cosmetic uses.

Our main project at the moment is the roundhouse structure which we intend to use as our temporary home until our permanent home is built and ready to move into. The designs of both, our temporary and permanent homes are inspired by Michael Reynolds’ Earthship. The roundhouse specifically is based on his straw bale temporary structure described in Earthship Volume III. We've modified some details to make the building more cohesive with local materials and what we can afford. For example, we've used sandbags for retaining the walls and our own pines for the reciprocal roof.

You will be welcome to pitch your tent on a lovely patch of our land. Water is drawn from our dug well here on the property and filtered with a simple gravity fed system. Electricity is harvested by a small solar power system. You would be able to charge phones, laptop, and batteries if necessary. We have a basic outhouse. We have an outdoor ‘bucket’ shower for bathing or you can also go to the nearby lake (5min by car, 20min by foot).

There's plenty to do for recreation. Hiking on the trail that borders our property, swimming at a selection of lakes in the area, fishing, cycling and you'd be welcome to borrow our canoe if interested. The landscape at our place varies between mixedwood forest, an old pine plantation and cleared fields full of wildflowers, so you may just want to spend your time on the land exploring and relaxing.

Our standard arrangement is very similar to the WWOOF help exchange. We offer you meals and accommodation in return for 6 hours of work daily. Here is our schedule for when we are accepting volunteers:

April 15-21
April 28-30
May 5-12
May 26-28
June 8-10
June 15-17
June 22-24
June 30-July 8
July 20-22
July 27-29
Aug 4-12
Aug 25-27
Aug 31-Sept 9
Sept 21-23
Sept 28-30
Oct 6-14

Note that these dates may be subject to change at anytime as we are a young family and things inevitably come up and disrupt plans, saying that, we are flexible so if you would like to volunteer but you cannot do any of these days then please do get in touch and we may be able to shift things around.

Please check the weather forecast before you come to visit us to be prepared with adequate clothing, tent and sleeping gear.
Bring clothes and shoes for working and that you don’t mind getting dirty. And don’t forget a hat to protect from the sun!

When applying please include a bit of information about yourself, any skills you may have (though no specific skills are required), and why you wish to be a part of an experience like this.

If you want to come but transportation is an issue for you, please contact us anyway and we might be able to help arrange a carpool opportunity for you.

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