Monday, 25 July 2011

WWOOFing at White Spruce Farm

My WWOOFing has begun. For the past eleven days I've been at White Spruce Farm amid trees and mountains near Fernie, South eastern B.C. The farm was started in the forest by Susan and her partner in the 70s. There are lots of cabins dotted throughout the woodland in varying states of decay and I can imagine what a great place it must have been back then. Now Susan lives in a beautiful house in the North along with her dog Tucker, and Kylie, Craig and their daughter Wakaiwa live a ten minute walk along the road/track (or through the undergrowth) away to the South in a small cabin. And I'm staying in an A-frame in the company of mice, voles and bats inbetween. Although it's no longer what it was it's still a brilliant and very peaceful place.

White Spruce Farm is off-grid (too far up the road for electricity lines) so the two houses have a variety of electricity generating and water heating devices, while the water comes from the streams. Susan has a mini-hydro system, photovoltaic panel, and wood fired burner with a petrol powered generator which she switches on when operating the washing machine. Craig and Kylie have photovoltaics, solar panels and a wood burner. They have an alfresco shower, which was freezing when the sun didn't shine and scorching when it did. Craig actually owns a sustainability company offering electricity and water heating solutions.

I've been weeding, picking herbs, preparing herbs for drying, attending a herbal preparation course (run by Susan), babysitting toddlers, planting out flowers, sowing seeds, watering plants, wandering through the forest, looking at the plants, going to Fernie, making vegan pesto, making salsa, making salads, baking cookies, baking a cake, making soup, chopping vegetables, weeding, picking lettuce, walking halfway around a lake in the provincial park, researching the nutritional qualities of foods, trying to hula-hoop, walking Tucker, sweeping floors, teasing wool, carding wool, learning about weaving, tidying and helping pack a trailer. I've been learning a lot about foods and herbs from both Kylie and Susan. I've also been trying all sorts of strange looking foods, such as the bright green spirulina, tumeric, banana and kefir-based drink that tasted like apricots. And although I'm not suddenly going to start eating all these concoctions I'm definitely going to start sprouting more seeds/beans, making more soup and eating a greater range of grains. I'll be trying to use nutritional yeast as a substitute for cheese, adding sesame seed/salt mix or dulse to my food, using a lot more herbs, drinking some lemon water and eating carob chips because they taste pretty good .

It's been inspiring here and I've gathered lots of ideas not only for the kitchen but for the garden and for life in general. I really should make that composting toilet when I get home and a solar drier to make apple rings. Why not try growing some oats and press them myself? (Although that's going to be somewhat lower on my priorities, and probably just a one-off). And I should really should sort out the wall so my parents can get some chickens and make a herb garden and garden with plants for dying wool. But to do most of this I need to be at home, but I'm really starting to like it in Canada.

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