Tag Archives: reflections

Julie’s Reflections on 2012


(A blog post contribution from Julie! Pictured above with son Kai.)

This year I am reflecting on the kind of life I want to live and how to get there. As a busy, working mom I am constantly striving to maintain a balance and joy in the everyday routine. My biggest goals revolve around how to keep and increase that balance. They are simple goals, yet I believe that if I am successful they will benefit the whole community as we live and grow together. 

1. Create a better system so my home is a peaceful, orderly place. Once Kai is in bed the toys go away, candles are lit, wine is poured. This means I have to get specific things done on specific days (Washrooms on Weds! Floors on Mon! Shopping on weekends!). This first week has been off to a good start. Every night before bed the house has been tidy, and wine has been consumed;) 

(Don’t ask about what it looks like when we all rush out the door in the morning…)

2. Make and follow a meal plan! I have made half hearted attempts to follow one in the past, but have never had great success. However, this last week I planned and shopped a meal plan and it has worked out really well! I’m hoping that my better planning will result in lower food bills and less tortellini.

3. Like Jawcey I aim to read more books in 2012. I miss the quiet pleasure of a cup of coffee and book on a rainy day. The time I have for that is precious little, but when my parents had Kai last week I sat for 2 hours on a rainy afternoon and read a book that had nothing to do with a) the oil crisis, b) permaculture, c) teaching. It was heavenly.

4. Spend more time in the garden this spring. I loved being outside last summer and truly enjoyed our garden. However, with our plans to grow even more food I know that I will need to commit more of my time to the project. Now that Kai will be a bit older, I see this as a realistic  goal. Hand in hand with this goal is learning better ways to store the food we hope to grow (canning, cellaring, drying ect…).

5. Bring back Saturday morning muffins! I used to have coffee and muffins for the farm on many weekends. Feeling worn out and over-extended made this more difficult for me this fall. However, I recognize that life is in the simple routines we create and maintain. My hope is that as I achieve better balance in my own routine, I can once again provide a better space for the people I love.

Here is to a fabulous, peaceful, loving and farming New Year!


2011, A Year of Notable Lifestyle Changes


Writing out my goals for 2012 inspired me to think about some of the lifestyle changes that I made in 2011. Some were planned, others unexpected, and all represent a new way of living that I want to continue pursuing. I thought I’d share my personal top 5 here – as a way to document the changes for myself, to express gratitude for the positive impact they’ve made on my life, and to encourage others to spend time reflecting on the positive changes they made for themselves last year too.

Looking back on 2011, I am so thankful for: 

1. Farmer Romance: Yep, it’s true. I’ve found myself a boy to love. I’m not one who typically shares personal romance stories on the internet, but this isn’t just any boy. Chris is a likeminded, homestead-dreaming, city-turned-farmer boy whose presence has made me very happy. Having him in my life means that free time is reprioritized so that we can spend it together, that I have an accountability partner for my ‘pursuing a healthier life’ goals, and that I have someone to make plans for the future with (cob house and permaculture business anyone?). Although he didn’t enter my life until halfway through 2011, he was definitely my highlight of the year and I am very, very thankful for him.

2. Going Vegan: I often joke that going vegan was just a matter of time for me. For the last 10 years there have been a number of significant people in my life who follow a vegan diet and lifestyle: employers, close friends, boyfriends, family members… This topic deserves a blog post all it’s own (which I promise to write), but for now I’ll keep it short and simple by saying that my interactions with the animals on our farm as well as personal research and group discussions about the ethical, environmental and health implications of a vegan diet led me to officially adopt it in October. Although I don’t know how to answer all the inquiring questions and critiques I hear from people about it yet, the more I explore it, the more comfortable and convicted I feel about this decision. Acknowledging that I was still unconvinced about some of the aspects of it when I found myself thinking about making the switch, I decided that I’d rather make the change now and err on the side of compassion (while figuring out the details) than continuing to consume and use animals products (potentially causing harm to innocent animals) before making my mind up about it. To err on the side of compassion – seems like a good motto for many of life’s situations.

3. Returning to Thrifting: In line with my desire to significantly decrease the materialism in my life and to save money, I made an effort last year to buy used instead of new (and only when I really needed something). This has applied mostly to clothing and household goods (which are already very minimal because I live in such a small space) and has been an enjoyable and rewarding process. Thrifting is something that I’ve always loved and that I did consistently while I was a ‘poor’ university student, but it wasn’t until this year that I returned to it so intentionally. You may not believe it because it’s not what the billboards or magazines market to us, but coming home with a great $8 pair of used jeans instead of a $150 pair of new ones is SO satisfying. 

4. Buying Local & Organic: For the past five months, I’ve been getting most of my produce and packaged goods from local farmer’s markets, Maple Ridge’s Roots Organic grocery and our own garden plots here at the farm. Although I’ve been a proponent of buying local and organic for years, it wasn’t until 2011 that I made it a consistent practice. I’ll write a more in-depth blog post about this too, but basically, I now keep this thought in mind when I shop: “If I choose to buy this non-organic product, it’s like I’m directly pouring harmful chemicals into our soil and ecosystems myself”. Not cool and definitely not something I want to contribute to. (Hopeful fact: Only 5% of consumers have to change their habits before large corporations will adjust their practices).

5. Community Engagement: It took a year of living in Maple Ridge before I really branched out and started getting to know anyone other than the few people I live on the farm with, but 2011 saw me joining the board of the CEED Centre, regularly attending their lively, weekly coffee discussions (open to the public – every Wendesday from 10am – 12 noon!), and becoming an active participant in Maple Ridge’s Transition Town movement, GETI. Connecting to other people and local initiatives has been incredibly inspiring, exciting and rewarding. You may not think it when you drive down Dewdney Trunk Road, but there are a growing number of Maple Ridge residents who are taking an active interest in making this city a better place to live. It actually makes me think that this could become the kind of place I’d want to call home.

Of course, all of these lifestyle changes are directly connected to my hands-on gardening lifestyle here at the farm. Thanks to everyone who continues to encourage me in this and to the farm family who has helped me make this lifestyle a reality.

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.