hippie dippie

Hello from Salt Spring island! My WWOOF adventure continues…I left CEI and Beth’s home after spending some time helping out at Colwood SunFest, which was an event to promote the use of solar power in the community. Beth set up a table there for CEI and a cob oven, which was the product of one of Beth’s workshops, was brought in to cook pizzas in. Food tastes so much better if it’s cooked using fire! After that I spent the evening in Victoria with some new friends, watched a lovely sunset at the pier and took in the city some more. It’s a pretty cool place.

Mount Maxwell

I didn’t end up taking the bike on the trip to Salt Spring after all, unfortunately – my bag was just too heavy to safely cart it around, but I was able to return the bike to the shop with no issue and found my way by bus instead. The ferry ride was short and beautiful as you can see from the above photo.

All the Blue Raven wwoofers get to sleep in prospector’s tents, which are pretty cozy. I could hear the frogs chirping in the surrounding forest and marsh! There’s also a kitchen tent with a potbelly wood stove and a propane stove, table, couch, etc. It’s a permaculture homestead type setup. There are all kinds of gardens, with things like vegetables, medicinal and culinary herbs, fruit and nut trees, beans and flowers. The amount of lush, diverse things growing makes it really beautiful! There were 3 other wwoofers there, and one longer-term wwoofer intern. We worked on things like Hugelkultur beds and some lowered cold frames which are dug into the ground. This is also a bad year for tent caterpillars, so we did our best to keep them out of the garden.

view from my tent

Our hosts were lovely. They don’t get to spend much time in the garden, but when they did it was always interesting to chat with them about the different plants and what they do, whether it’s a food crop, a medicinal herb, or a companion plant that’s beneficial to others growing around it. They also cooked us delicious dinners! The kids were great to have around too, always entertaining us or picking berries to share. It’s amazing to see young kids who know the different plants and know their uses as well.

Some of the hugelkultur beds in progress

And the sunken cold frames, which will be used to grow food through the winter. Panes of glass will be put over them to conserve heat

We spent some time in Ganges, the nearest town & the hub of the island, to check out the Saturday market and just take a look around. Salt Spring felt like a sleepy island at first, but the number of people in town for the market was huge – about 140 vendors and many visitors. There’s a park nearby which makes for a great setup, as people get goodies from the market stands and then go sit on the grass while musicians perform in the gazebo. The shops in Ganges sell lots of local products, as do the restaurants, and there are tons of roadside stands, artists and galleries. The real vibe of the island became apparent at the market, with tie dyed clothes for sale, shirtless people dancing to the live music, and at one point I walked by someone singing “here comes the sun” quietly to themselves. The folks who live on the island are, to put it bluntly, rich (the cost of anything there is quite high, especially property), but they seem to make a real effort to step lightly and maintain a strong sense of community. And there must be a reason why people are so laid back – on the way to the ferry to leave Salt Spring, I saw a road sign that someone had doctored to say “ferry traffic must stay high”.

In the Salt Spring shops, there are no gumball dispensers – just seed bombs

Inside the treehouse cafe. There is really a tree growing in the middle of it!

The Cranberry road farm stand

We also visited Mount Maxwell, just down the road from Blue Raven, and spent some time enjoying the view from the top. The longer we stayed, the more amazed I was at the view – we could see the southern part of the island, some of the other gulf islands, and Vancouver island!

Our dear outdoor shower. I never want to shower inside again

one of the many snakes who helped us in the garden

The wwoofers atop Mount Maxwell

The wwoof crew was great to have around. John, the wwoofer intern who acted as our “foreman” most of the time, had alot of interesting knowledge to share, both about permaculture and other things. One thing I found interesting was a conversation we all had about “sacred economics”, a concept about sharing skills and developing relationships based on trade, without focusing exclusively on the exchange of money. We later watched a video about it, which can be viewed here, that explains the idea better.

The ingenious hoop house, with roll-up sides

John teaching us about drip irrigation

Rhizomes on the rye, which help fix nitrogen (look closely and you can see them as tiny white balls)

Comfrey, permaculture’s poster child

As you can see, things have been busy! I have lots more to write about – I’m at my second host since Blue Raven now – so will be back soon with more photos and updates.

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About tino

I'm an aspiring organic farmer living in canada. I talk about farm life, things I'm learning, other relevant topics like feminism, social & environmental justice, nature, animals, vegan food, and fun.

Posted on July 10, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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