Alrighty, it’s about time to give you guys an update! We have turned our backs on Whistler a while ago and headed to Vancouver Island instead. This Canadian gem is also referred to as THE ISLAND. This nickname makes a whole lot of sense considering the fact that it’s freaking gorgeous and almost half the size of Germany… We found a host over HelpX, a network that works similarly as Workaway or WWOF. What these three platforms have in common is that they connect international travellers and locals. Why? The deal is to volunteer a few hours per day (farm work, household chores, childcare, …) in return for food and accommodation. This allows low-budget travellers to get to know a variety of local projects and well, the hosts get affordable temporary workers in return. This can be extremely helpful during harvest times for instance. Cultural exchange at its best, we’d say 😊
After getting in touch with various hosts, we finally decided to volunteer on the Metchosin Farm. Although everything sounded promising, we had a bit of a tough start here because the accommodation for the volunteers wasn’t in a very good shape… The trailer we slept in was old and smelly, the heating was broken, we hated using the outside Compost Toilet at night. But after giving that critical feedback to the farmer, she changed a lot and tried hard to make it up to us. So, although we were tempted to leave again after the first couple of – very uncomfortable – days, we ended up staying and will do so for another week.
So, the living situation is better now and we really learn a tonne here:
1. Seed-Production and -Processing:
Metchosin Farm is pretty much the No.1 on the Island when it comes to this. The owner teaches Ethnobotanics at UVIC and her second passion is the cultivation of old, native crop plants. She not only cultivates them, but breeds new types and sells more than 200 different seed varieties all over Vanisland. At this time of the year, there’s not much left to harvest but many of our work hours consist of seed processing: separating them from the flesh with different methods, cleaning them, weighing and packaging them. It’s work that especially Gesa enjoys a lot and she just can’t suck up enough new knowledge. Ever heard of Strawberry Spinach, Sunchokes or Mousemelon? Us neither before we started working here…
2. Culinary Life-Skills:
Being raised by farmers, F. hs a huge knowledge about more than ‘just plants’. Mainly practical skills that seem completely natural to her but that we have never done before. Just last week, she taught us how to make Yoghurt, Cream-cheese and – our two new favourites for a strong immune system – Kombucha and Golden Milk. Of course, you can look up all these things on the internet but let’s face it, who does? We learn a tonne here and it’s something new every day. Someday, we still want to learn how to make wine and ‘proper cheese’ but unfortunately, the Metchosin Farm is not the right place for this.
3. This and That:
Every morning, we take care of the farm’s few animals. We wouldn’t mind to have some horses or sheep, but it’s just a flock of chicken and two ducks. Oh, and the two fluffy farm dogs Keta and Pippin. But you’d be surprised how much character the poultry has and we love collecting some fresh eggs for breakfast. Then, there is always some gardening: Sometimes, we plant stuff, on other days we do pruning or weeding. A farm is truly a place with a never ending to-do-list!
4. Construction Work:
Well, there’s a reason why we named this as our last task on the list. “Helping to build a Tiny Home” (that’s basically a compact house on wheels which you can drag around with your car), that’s what was advertised on the farm’s HelpX profile but we have never swung a hammer in there. Which is too bad because it was one of the major reasons why we came to Metchosin. There are understandable reasons for this circumstance (long story…) but we remain a little disappointed and hope to learn some more manual skills when we change hosts after Christmas (pssst, spoiler! We will spend New Years on Quadra Island!).
Oh, and we did another short clip with the recommendable 1secondeverday app to visualize what a typical day looks like for us. Here ya go!
We work Monday – Friday from 8am-1pm and are off on the weekends. This schedule allows us to go hiking every now and again. The landscape is truly magic but more on that another time. In addition, we have taken on more (paid!) work on other farms nearby – yeih! More digging, pruning and weeding! Which means that our current life can be summarized like this:
We eat loads a healthy, organic food. We work hard – you should see our biceps by now! We play cards with the other farm helpers or chase the animals around the yard. We make up old-fashioned nicknames for the chicken: Mathilda, Cunegonde and Brunilda are our favourites so far. We are outside for most part of the day, no matter the weather. We whistle “Old McDonalds had a Farm” while we shuffle about in gumboots. Gesa doesn’t recall the last time she put on makeup and neither does Sebastian remember when he last trimmed his beard. We shower only once a week to save water … NOT! Come on, we’re not thaaaat wild yet. This was just a test to see if you’re still focused 😉
Bottomline: If you know us well, dear reader, you will know that all this makes us extremely happy!