Now back where I grew up in Toronto, researching work-life options in British Columbia for this season. I've been told the islands are better known for permaculture activity, but I'm a mountain girl and would revel in the likes of Revelstoke - or perhaps the Okanagan, the Rocky foothills at the very least. My intentions are twofold: to see and experience Western Canada for at least a season, and to continue working towards a career of some sort. This second intention limits the first, because while I'm also more of a country girl, I'm learning that it may be necessary to live in a more urban area for a while in order to gain the job experience I seek. I've spent the past 5 seasons working on various farms and homesteads (animal, vegetable/fruit, nursery, 'permaculture', herb) on the East and West coasts of the States (I'm a dual citizen), but mostly and most recently on the Northern California coast. [This latter and most recent experience could prove useful in BC]. And while I have helped do everything from starting seeds to processing the harvest, and while I still love gardening and consider it part of my ideal daily routine, I'm not sure that I'm a full-time farmer. It takes a certain type of person to run a farm (without mentioning starting and supporting it financially from the beginning) and make a living from this good work (well done, you), and while I did strive for this kind of path in the past, I might try a different route this year. I love the farm life and would love to maintain close ties with an existing farm out there - perhaps working out a work trade agreement involving food and/or rent, a part-time commitment, etc. This year I think I'd like to focus more on food processing, and build upon my already active repertoire of such tasks as drying, fermenting/soaking, canning, sprouting, cooking, freezing, extracting (medicine making), etc, with the intention of creating value-added products to sell. One simple example: I help start a bunch of cabbage seeds, transplant into farmers' beds, cultivate & weed, harvest, then process into sauerkraut. To continue working on my foraging skills would be excellent, too! Perhaps there is a farmer out there looking for part-time help interested in diversifying toward a few value-added products. Or perhaps there is already a facility where farmers can bring their fresh produce, and where I might apply for a job turning this food into more shelf-stable, nutritiously dense, easier to digest or ready-to-eat products. I don't know much about what's out there, only a little about where I'd like to go and what I'd like to do, an ever-evolving journey. The ultimate goal is to settle in a somewhat rural, local food-centric Northern farm community in or near mountains & forest, conducive to implementing sustainableenergy systems (humanure, solar, forestry for wood heat...) .... but that's a ways off. BC's for sure a-callin'.
Any advice, recommendations, referrals, or responses of any kind are truly appreciated! All the best for the new year,
Have you considered brewing beer ? It can be done on almost any scale so the first experience with it should not be too hard to get.
Another one is selling stuff at the market. Most European cities have a market at least once a week. Others have permanent markets. In Europe at least that seems an excellent way to contact lots of farmers and producers. In North America possibly not so due to the much lower population density but i thought to mention it.
I've played with kombucha a bunch (on a small, personal scale), but not beer. It's a consideration for sure, though we can't live on beer (unfortunately), so I'm definitely more keen on food as a starting point. Fermented vegetables ("kraut-chi") are the one ferment I've managed to always keep in supply amidst all my farm-wwoof travels, and something I cannot go without. There are probably more breweries than kraut production facilities in the northwest, if I had to guess.
You bring up a great point about the farmers market! Definitely a factor in choosing the next place to be.
I just noticed your post and I too am looking to move out west hopefully once my house sells here. I am a couple hours east of you currently. That being said, I am looking to buy some land and start a small farm and could definitely use someone with experience like yours. I have very little farming experience but I have taken a few courses with hands on experience including raising lambs. Won't be doing that but it was great experience. I had a place all set up, beautiful small log cabin on 40 acres near the mountains but it burnt down with the fires last year so the deal didn't go through. I noticed you put your email up so if you don't mind I will save it and send you an email once I get things established and maybe if your still available we can work something out??
:O I am so sorry to hear about your cabin. Feel free to stay in touch through email, I'm interested to hear more about your plans for new land and farming.
At this point I'm looking for spring-winter work in a BC cafe/kitchen (hopefully like-minded as far as food philosophy) as a way to gain more experience and get to know an area, its people and farms. I don't have recent experience in a certified kitchen however, so some training may be necessary :) I'll see what I can find but it might be better to head out sooner and job search there, and I'll probably need a car so I'll have to put some thought into driving cross country.... good thing I bought a new down sleeping bag.
Thanks for reaching out and I look forward to hearing more,