Tag Archives: education

A visit from local high school students


One of our dreams for this farming project is that it may serve to inspire and educate others about growing your own food, permaculture and living in harmony with nature. It’s been exciting to see our space (and our experiments) used for some educational purposes in the last year: first as a field trip destination for a permaculture class and a master organic gardener class and more recently, as a field trip destination for the grade 12 social justice class from Thomas Haney Secondary School in Maple Ridge. 

Matt and I were on hand when the students came by so we gave them a tour, spoke to them about our project and filled them in on some of the different methods we’re experimenting with on the farm. Teachers Mark and Jenny gave questions to the students in advance that they were supposed to be thinking about and asking us about while at the farm. The questions included:

Why ducks?

What is a food forest anyway?

What are those rings of plants around your fruit trees?

Benefits of composting?

Permaculture what?

Can we eat the lasagne garden?


What’s up with square foot gardening?

What do chickens need a tractor for?

Why use heritage breeds?

SUCH great questions! (The lasagne garden one was the most popular :) The visit made me wish that I could have been learning about this stuff when I was in high school. I’m pretty sure I would have gotten started with growing my own food a lot earlier if I had. I think it’s fantastic that high school students are getting exposed to issues of food justice, health and environmental protection. It makes me feel hopeful about the future.

All in all, the visit was a success (at least we think so!) and so much fun. Matt and I had a blast talking to the students, watching them eat nasturtiums and kale straight from the garden, introducing them to our baby chicks, testing their knowledge about compostable matter, and enlisting them to move our chicken tractor for us. 

To Mark, Jenny & al
l the students who came to visit us – thanks for coming! We hope you’ll come back again soon and continue to explore ways in which we can pursue healthier, happier lives that benefit each other and our environment.

january reflections


January has been a good month. The temperature has gotten warmer and the days a little less rainy. We’ve been consciously working away at our goal list and have been making decent progress, despite the limited free time we have left over after working our day jobs and getting in all the other Life stuff that comes up. For myself, The Life stuff (including the day job stuff) has gradually been getting more interconnected with The Farm stuff –  which has been really interesting to observe and experience.

There’s the practical stuff: picking up bags of composting toilet mixture on my way in to work and picking up donated rabbit hutches from a friend’s farm on my way home from work; and then there’s the more intriguing stuff: grabbing coffee with university students (I work at a university in a non-teaching role) who are interested in hearing about what I’m up to because an increasing number of them are interested in sustainable agriculture and exploring career ideas related to it. In the same vein, because of the interview I had with BC Christian News, colleagues who I don’t know very well are seeking me out to ask questions about it and find out why I’m spending my ‘off-time’ doing something like this.

Everywhere I go, it seems people are interested in what we’re doing here on the farm and why we’re doing it. People want to come visit the farm and participate in farm work days. They want to know what it’s like living in community and they want to know what it’s like living in a trailer. They express skepticism at the idea of having to walk outside in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, but they also voice sentiments along the lines of, ‘I’ve always wanted to do something like this – good for you guys for actually doing it,’ and from the older generation, ‘It’s so encouraging to see more and more young people taking an interest in growing their own food.’

Whatever someone’s particular interest is, it’s pretty clear that there’s a growing interest in local food and becoming part of that process. When I first started taking an interest in this stuff ten years ago, I knew the topic would inevitably become more popular and mainstream – at least I hoped it would! All of the arguments for pursuing a more sustainable food system made
so much sense to me that it was hard to imagine people not ‘getting it’. It’s been exciting to watch movements start up and take off – from popular concepts like The 100 Mile Diet to grocery stores now listing ‘BC Product’ next to locally produced fruits and vegetables (because consumers are starting to demand it). Beyond the consumer perspective, it’s really exciting to hear about the growing number of  individuals and families starting up small farms of their own – taking their convictions and interests to an even more practical and personal level. I just finished reading the book, Micro Eco-Farming by Barbara Berst Adams, and it’s full of stories of people starting up small-scale farms in the Pacific Northwest – and making a living off of them.

Anyways, all that to say, as this wet, dark, dreary January begins to get drier, lighter and less-dreary, I’m feeling very encouraged – encouraged by the growing passion and activity that’s taking place on our own little farm and encouraged by the growing interest that is taking place beyond it. It’s exciting to watch and it feels great to be contributing, in our own little way, to a growing movement that we believe in.

PHOTOS: I thought I’d post some random photos from some of our January activities. In order: the boys pounding in posts that will serve as part of our yet-to-be-completed composting system; the boys helping unload the rabbit hutch that I picked up the night before in my truck; getting the four deep beds into place (finally!) – now to start working on the soil inside them; a shot of my ‘tools’ hanging off the back of my outhouse; the piles of wood I’m slowly working at building up (bit by bit I’m breaking down all the fallen trees and branches from our back field and putting the pieces into piles for later use – trying to tidy the place up a bit); and lastly, Lola, marching across the backyard towards me from the trailer.