Nova Scotia!

 

Driving across Canada was pretty epic. The scenery, the road trip food (hello, Tofurky sammies!), the Uhaul full of homemade farm preserves...

Driving across Canada was pretty epic. The scenery, the road trip food (hello, Tofurky sammies!), the Uhaul full of homemade farm preserves…

Okay, possibly most overdue blog post ever, but here it is and here’s our news: Chris K. and Jocelyn have moved to Nova Scotia!

Yep. As in we’re already here.

We’ve been in NS for 2 1/2 weeks now. We got here by driving for seven days across our beautiful and very large country.

Fergus, Lola, Thumper, and Frieda turned out to be calm, (mostly) easy road trip companions.

Fergus, Lola, Thumper, and Frieda turned out to be calm, (mostly) easy road trip companions.

As hinted at in my last blog post, our decision to move out of Maple Ridge wasn’t a sudden one, but the final destination decision sort of was. Nova Scotia had been on my mind for awhile – definitely for over a year, but we had more serious destinations in mind leading up to our move-out date: the interior of BC, southern Ontario, France (okay, maybe France was never that serious, but it we did talk about it a lot)… However, Nova Scotia kept moving up on our destination list for a couple pretty important (in our minds) reasons: 1) We were really curious about it – it was a big unknown for us and therefore scary, but also super exciting and adventurous-feeling, 2) Land is cheap! Okay, cheap for people who are used to BC prices. Like, insanely potentially attainable for two people who have debt and little savings. Right? Seriously. Check out mls.ca for yourself.

In the end, despite the scary/ exciting unknowns (no lined up farm work, no lined up work at all for Jocelyn, no one we really knew…), the adventure and the new beginnings NS offered won out over our other options. We felt moving to a place where neither of us had roots would be good for our relationship and certainly, moving to a place where we could seriously consider buying land was super exciting. So, here we are!

Our adorable new home, that we and our furry family members are happily settling into.

Our adorable new home, that we and our furry family members are happily settling into.

And we LOVE it. We seriously do. We’ve got ourselves a super great living space in Kentville (located in the very farm and vineyard and orchard friendly Annapolis Valley), we’ve been exploring the province (BEAUTIFUL!), meeting new people (absolutely as friendly as you hear), frequenting farmers markets (so many!!!), and just generally settling in.

We've got kilometres of walking trails and wild bird sanctuaries accessible, literally, from our backyard. We've been starting each morning with a morning walk. It's pretty perfect. Also perfect is that all amenities we need (groceries, farmers market, coffee shops, banks, etc) are all within a 15 minute walk from our house. Walkability! YAY!

We’ve got kilometres of walking trails and wild bird sanctuaries accessible, literally, from our backyard. We’ve been starting each morning with a morning walk. It’s pretty perfect. Also perfect is that all amenities we need (groceries, farmers market, coffee shops, banks, etc) are all within a 15 minute walk from our house. Walkability! YAY!

How are we affording it? Chris has kept the non-farm job he had back in BC. He works remotely for a tech company in Toronto, meaning he can work anywhere he has reliable internet, which is AWESOME. It’s really the only way we could afford to pick up and move out here. Thank you Chris xo. I left my non-farm job behind in BC, but I have just landed myself a seasonal delivery job with UPS (seriously stoked!), and am hoping to line up work on a farm in the new year. We’re not rolling in riches, but we’re making enough to support our life out here (as long as we go to farmers markets with strict budgets – our will power disappears when faced with gorgeous produce (esp. since we don’t have access to our own anymore), delicious raw vegan treats, and local booze – alcohol (and tastings!) are permitted at NS farmers markets. Heavenly! ;).

Are we buying land right away? Oh no. We aren’t ready (financially or mentally) to do that yet, but part of our plan is to spend our time here determining if buying property in NS is realistic for us, and if so, determining what part of NS we’d like to buy in.

Are we starting up our own market business again? Not right away. I’m hoping to get work on someone else’s farm – to hopefully get mentored by an expert, learn new skills, and acquaint myself with what it’s like to grow in NS. Will it feel weird not to have a booth in the local farmers markets. Absolutely. Already does. I LOVE being a vendor in a market, but I’m working on practicing patience :)

Will we keep blogging? Probably. On this website? Not sure, but we’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, you can follow along with our adventure on our regularly updated instagram page (http://instagram.com/farmforlife).

I think that’s it for now. Seriously, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you to everyone who has been following our story and supporting us in a myriad of ways. The past three years on the farm in Maple Ridge were hugely life changing, and although our lifestyle changes left some people in our lives seriously questioning and, let’s be honest, judging our decisions, most of you have been overwhelmingly encouraging. We have felt that and we love it. Thank you for lifting us up and cheering us forward.

A long-time favourite quote (and life motto) of mine has been one by Goethe (posted below). I’ve been incredibly fortunate in life so far to have the family support and friendly pushes to pursue my many different interests and dreams without much hesitation. I know that not everyone has this kind of support, but if you’re not doing what brings you happiness and joy, or if you feel a strong pull to do something other than what you’re already doing, I say, with every ounce of encouragement I have within me, DO IT! Do it, do it, do it. Figure out how to make it work within the life perimeters you find yourself in and do it. We have one life here on earth (in these bodies at least). Make the most of it. No regrets. xoxo

“Whatever you can do, or think you can do, begin it; For boldness has power and magic and genius in it.” ~ Goethe

A few of the things we've seen since being here. A pumpkin person in Kentville, composting toilet instructions at Broadfork Farm, one of the creative cement houses by late artist and architect Charles Macdonald.

A few of the things we’ve seen since being here. A pumpkin person in Kentville, composting toilet instructions at Broadfork Farm, and one of the creative cement houses by late artist and architect Charles Macdonald.

September, a look back at summer, and big changes for the future

Harvesting tomatoes and flowers for market.

Harvesting tomatoes and flowers for market.

It’s  officially September. I’ve felt it coming for a couple weeks now – the cooler evenings and chilly, dewy mornings, and the exodus of leaves from the old walnut tree outside our window. All signs of summer drawing to a close and autumn moving in.

I wrote a total of three blog posts in June and July this summer. Pretty sure that’s my worst blogging performance ever. It was a great summer though – too great to spend much of it in front of a computer, and that’s not a bad thing.

Now that students are back to school and we’re able to start relying on rain to water our gardens again, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the summer, report on our activities, and provide hints about what’s next for us.

This summer didn’t include many Farm for Life communal activities. Certainly less than past summers. Chris M. and Julie spent a large part of their summer adventuring on their new sailboat (lucky ducks!), and Chris K. and I found ourselves quite busy with our market garden business and planning for our future (more on that below).

The market garden business has been going really well. We increased the amount of produce and flowers we grew this year, and as a result, saw our market garden income increase. We received special orders from a local caterer, as well as other community members who had special recipes in mind that they wanted to use clean, locally-grown produce for. It was encouraging to get repeat orders and to see repeat customers at our market booth every weekend, confirming for us that we’re producing quality products that are appreciated. We opted out of our originally-planned two markets a week in favour for just focusing on one. Working our other day jobs while running our market garden business made it too tough to attain the increased produce volume (not to mention time and energy) that a second market would require. It was actually a relief when we officially decided to opt out of market number two.

And we’ve been making plans. Plans that involve BIG changes. Some of our friends and customers know this now, but there are still a lot of people who don’t: Chris K. and I will be leaving Maple Ridge and the farm at the end of October. Big news, right?!

We’ve known for the last year and a half that we’d be moving off the farm at the end of this year, but the decision to leave Maple Ridge altogether came later. Both Chris K. and I have been in Maple Ridge for three years now. We didn’t know each other when we separately left Vancouver to live on acreages in Maple Ridge, but two years ago, our paths crossed, and now we’re life partners and market garden partners. Pretty awesome. But people who know either of us know that three years is a long time to stay in one place and we’re both ready for change, so we’re making plans to move.  We haven’t settled on a particular location yet – more on that in a future blog post – but it will almost definitely include heading east. That’s my hint for now :) More details coming soon!

Since we’ve known for a few months that these would be our last few months in the Lower Mainland, Chris K. and I also kept ourselves busy this summer doing some local travelling in order to take advantage of the awesomeness of the Pacific NorthWest. We’ve been up to the Sunshine Coast a number of times for permaculture classes and to scope out farmland. We did a bike trip to Salt Spring Island, a roadtrip to Kelowna, and a number of local trips around the Lower Mainland. Almost every trip included visits to local wineries, breweries and distilleries, as well as to local farms and farmer markets. Personal market research maybe? ;) Next week we’re off to Little Rock, Arkansas, for an unexpected work/ adventure trip, and we’re also hoping to get in a roadtrip down to Portland to visit important peeps before we head east. All in all, a great few months full of adventures.

A lot of people who know we’re leaving have asked what that means for The Farm for Life Project. To be really honest and realistic, I believe it means the end of it insofar as we’ve outlined it here on this blog. The original adventure that I began blogging about three years ago started off as my year of blogging about living on a farm for a year. That original idea morphed into three years, a market garden business, lots of permaculture experiments, lots of farm animal experiences, major gardening growing curves, oodles of community-building opportunities, and some very generous handfuls of new relationships with inspiring people in the Maple Ridge community. The personal changes that each of us involved have experienced over the past three years have been too numerous to try to list. I think it’s safe to say that three years ago, none of us would have expected that this is where we’d be now! Crazy awesome.

I won’t speak too much for Chris M. and Julie, but I do know that continuing to garden and educating others about growing food and respecting the environment are still very important to them, so although it may look a little different and may not not blogged about, I know good things will still happen on the farm after we leave. I’m actually excited to see where it’s at in 5 years, once all of the perennial fruit and nut trees, and other perennial edibles that Chris M. has been focused on planting have matured. It’s a pretty magical property and Chris M. and Julie are great land stewards. Onwards and upwards!

In the meantime, Chris K. and I will still be at the Haney Farmers Market every Saturday until the end of September, and will still be kicking around Maple Ridge and the farm until the end of October. I’ll post more details about our move and our intentions for the future as we know more.

Much love and happy September!

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  ~ Lao Tzu

A Quick Market Update

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Market season is in full swing and we’re having a lot of fun with it. This past Saturday was our most successful market yet! Thank you to all of our shoppers for returning week after week to buy some fresh produce, say good morning, and chat about the weather, gardening tips and recipes. We always love seeing you!

I wanted to give a quick market update because our original market plans have changed. As originally planned, we will be at all of the Haney Farmers Markets in Maple Ridge until the end of October. However, we have decided not to attend the Sunday White Rock Farmers market. Our hope this season was that we’d have large enough yields to attend two regular markets a week, but that is not the case. On the plus side, we do have larger yields than last year which means that our Haney Market booth is happily brimming.

So to our White Rock friends who were looking forward to seeing us, we’re sorry we won’t be making it out your way, but we’d love to see you if you ever feel like making a special trip out to Maple Ridge :)