Hello again from CEI! Things are moving right along around here. Since my last post, I’ve worked on some more cool stuff, and we also had another wwoofer here for the past week and a half. His name is Fernando (consequently, I’ve had Abba stuck in my head for 2 weeks). He’s here from Chile, where he works as a mechanical engineer, but is spending time in Canada hoping to learn about permaculture and renewable energy. We’ve had some good talks about things like fossil fuel reduction, access to education, and of course, food. It’s really amazing to meet someone from so far away who’s on the same page as many of us in Canada when it comes to changing our lifestyles. It’s a good reminder that while many of us struggle individually to feel like we’re making a difference, we’re definitely not alone in our struggles. It’s been nice to have another wwoofer around, and since Fernando mainly speaks Spanish we’ve all been learning some new words (I learned a rhyme about snails!)
As for work, the past few days have mainly consisted of painting and plastering the outer walls of the sleep pod & office. Beth showed me how to mix lime plaster as well as the lime wash paint, which is dyed using mineral pigments. Very cool! Then we brainstormed about what should be painted on the back wall of the office, and this is the result:
We’ve also been doing garden chores, like weeding, clearing the way for new beds, planting seedlings, and adding trellising for the peas. The other night we made a delicious rhubarb crumble after dinner, with rhubarb from the many patches in the gardens, and today, tasted the first strawberries of the season. Delicious!
Last weekend, Beth hosted the Annual General Meeting for the Canadian Earth Institute. I stuck around and sat in on it to see how things work and to learn more about what they do. It was a bright group of people who laughed alot and were eager to be a part of the project. The main purpose of the organization is to publish and distribute workbooks for courses on how to live more responsibly when it comes to environmental impact and consuming. Beth showed us a pile of about 20 workbooks on varying subjects. The cool thing about them is they’re structured in a way that makes them relevant to people across North America (and maybe beyond), with different essays, art and poetry, and some activities to do as a group. People interested in doing a course can order the workbooks and form their own discussion group, using the books as a guide. It sounds like a simple, accessible way to learn and support one another’s efforts to live lighter on the earth. (More info is on their website).
After the meeting ended, the board members stayed for lunch and I had some interesting conversations with them. One of Beth’s friends heard that I was searching for a bike, and offered me one of hers that she no longer uses! I went to see it that afternoon and brought it back with me. Although it ended up being too big for me to use, I will feel grateful to Shelley forever, I think – what a great gift (and she even drove me back to Beth’s with the bike). I’ve also gained some perspective on bike prices – in Ontario, I could’ve bought a bike like Shelley’s for maybe $75. Here it’s being sold for $200! When I get home I’ll be much less hesitant to spend some money on a good bike.
Thankfully, Victoria is a very bike-friendly (maybe bike-obsessed) city, so it wasn’t hard to find a place where I could trade in Shelley’s old bike for a smaller one. It was so hard to let that one go, but it just wouldn’t have worked, so now I have this little steed! Since this picture was taken I’ve added a cargo rack and water bottle holder, and some puncture-resistant tubes so I (hopefully) won’t have to change any tires on my longer rides.
Since I got the bike, I’ve taken it out on the Galloping Goose trail a few times to get a feel for it. I’m really appreciating how bike-friendly this place is. The Galloping Goose was once a railway, and is now a paved/gravelled path for bikes, cyclists, horseback riding, etc. and it is loooong! 60 km in fact, and it connects Victoria with other communities like Langford (where I’m staying) and Sooke. Lots of folks use it to commute or just for pleasure. I’ve done two runs of about 25km on the Goose, the faster one being an hour-long ride. Not too shabby! On Sunday I head out to my next host farm on Salt Spring island, and will be riding the Goose and its connecting trail, the Lochside trail, which takes me to the ferry. I hear there’s a great vegan cafe/bakery/bookshop right at the harbour on Salt Spring called Morningside, so I’ll definitely be making a pit stop to check it out and get some lunch! In the meantime, I’m helping Beth with a cob oven demonstration tomorrow (fire-baked pizza! yum) and then in the afternoon, taking part in Theatre SKAM’s Bike Ride. Good weekend ahead!
CEI has been a great starting point on my wwoof adventure. I’m so excited and grateful to have learned more about natural building, carpentry, and permaculture setups, and for the stimulating conversations with Beth, Fernando, and some of Beth’s friends. People here have been extremely welcoming, and it’s been great to observe folks from an older generation work together on issues such as women’s rights, racism, and of course environmental preservation. There is a definite sense of community here. I hope I can bring some of that back to Ontario with me in the fall.
I’ll update soon on the cob oven and bike ride, plus my next host farm!