Many hands have helped build this vision from such humble beginnings and without the help of volunteers we could not be where we are today. For the 2023 season, we are envisioning new ways to bring people to the farm and forest that continue to inspire so many who have found their way to this little piece of paradise. We have welcomed many people over the years and are continually evolving how we welcome and host those curious about permaculture, homesteading, small-scale farming and connecting with nature. For the 2023 season, we are inviting those interested in such a journey to join us for a Homesteading Immersion Program to share what we know with others, engage in meaningful conversations, and learn from the skills and gifts others bring to the farm.
We have broken down our Homesteading Immersion Program into one and two week stays. From our experience, we find that this time gives an overview of the land, the farm, and the forest in all that they have to offer. You will be connected to the food that is grown here while being surrounded by the forest that offers mysterious reflections, and at the end of the day, you are in a community of others, wild and human, that support you in unexpected ways.
We also invite longer stays of more than two weeks, which can offer a much deeper dive into the workings of the farm and opportunities to connect more intimately with the land. For those interested in such an adventure, we require a more in-depth conversation to explore intentions for an extended visit.
Some of the tasks and projects you could be involved in while at our farm include:
- daily animal routines (feeding, watering, milking, egg collection)
- electric fence maintenance
- goat wanders in the forest – yup, it’s just a fun as it sounds!
- planting, weeding, transplanting, watering, moving high tunnels
- firewood collection, splitting, stacking
- harvesting of animals and vegetables
- compost systems, including garden and humanure
- farm stand management and customer interaction
- seasonal building projects
- bandsaw milling and wood products
- assisting with workshops and educational offerings
- …and whatever else arises during your stay!
The Experiential Learning Exchange
Homesteading is hard work. No other way to put it. You must be able to lift at least 50lbs and tolerate working in wind, rain, sun, black fly swarms, and whatever nature has to offer that day. Tending to life means a daily interaction with animals and vegetables alike, and they require food, water, care, and patience. The daily routines happen every day, twice a day no matter what, which means some things are the same day in and day out.
We are asking for your help with these tasks in exchange for all of the offerings mentioned. This will mean that in a week, you will contribute between 20 to 25 hours tending to the farm, which in turn sustains our human lives. You will partake in eating the food you are helping raise, thereby dieting with the land in a very intimate and real way.
Your energy will also contribute to the continued vision of this place and what you offer will pay it forward for others who will find their way to this land.
We eat whole foods, cooked from scratch that either come directly from the farm or other local farms. We eat what is in season and only have a few items that are not sourced from the Maritimes. Throughout the season, we also cook meals over an open fire, pairing those food with fresh greens from the garden which provide for an amazing compliment to this incredible food.
We provide the basics for three meals a day, with some prepared by us, others you cook for yourself. We do not provide snacks, tea or coffee, only the whole foods needed to prepare incredible home cooked meals. Please ensure that you bring food with you if you require additional nourishment. We cannot accommodate strict vegetarian or vegan diets as we cook with our own lard and many meals are meat-based. Our offering here is to eat locally, ethically raised food that comes directly from this land.
Accommodations and Facilities
Our volunteer accommodations and facilities at Twisted Roots Farm are situated in our forest site. These are rustic, simple camping style lodgings. All the amenities you will need are supplied for a comfortable stay, however, this a truly unique off-grid experience.
Our site and amenities include the following:
Tent Platforms. We have a number of tent platforms situated in the forest and this will be where your sleeping accommodations will be.
– Sleeping Pad
– Sleeping Bag
You can also bring your own camping gear if that is preferable.
Our goal for the 2023 season is to upgrade these tent platforms to be a more luxurious enclosed covered space, however we are not certain how many of these will be completed and by what date therefore, please expect a tenting option as your sleeping accommodations for this season.
Washrooms. Washrooms consist of an outhouse in the woods with a composting toilet, which is simply a bucket with mulch. Volunteers will be required to empty these buckets in our humanure compost system, learning about this simple and efficient composting method. There is a hand-washing station located next to the washroom.
Showers. There is an outdoor shower available for volunteers, which is covered and screened. This is a bucket shower where volunteers can choose to warm the water first in the outdoor kitchen or enjoy a cold shower on a hot day.
Laundry. We do not have modern laundry facilities available for volunteers. We do however, provide a bucket system and plunger in which laundry can be washed by hand and hung to dry. This can be a labour intensive process depending on what you need to wash, however it is totally doable and really connects you with water usage and the cleaning of your clothing.
Kitchen. The kitchen is an outdoor style kitchen which is a covered screened building. It includes a propane stovetop for cooking, a picnic table for eating meals, and a sink for dish cleanup. Volunteers will be required to haul their own water from the brook. Filtered drinking water will be supplied. There is no power in the kitchen and we have minimal refrigeration, which only consists of a cooler space with rotated ice packs.
Power and Devices. As mentioned, there is no power available in the main volunteer accommodation area. Power for charging devices can be accessed at our studio and store front site during designated hours. Please keep in mind that we work with little power and that there is no wifi and minimal cell service.
There is also a screened porch at the brook that is a bug free sanctuary in the forest. We use this area to hold meetings, play music and to enjoy hot summer days. We encourage volunteers to engage in daily practices, like yoga and meditation, and this magical place offers an amazing experience to be enjoyed during your time at the farm and in the forest. Our goal for the 2023 season is to build more brookside platforms that will provide additional areas for these activities. We also have walking trails on the property and many locations that can offer areas for sitting and enjoying the forest here at the farm.
Learning by doing. We encourage questions and suggest volunteers have a small notebook to take notes, as everything will be very new to you and you will be on a steep learning curve during your stay here. Any projects or tasks that we engage in will require explanation and demonstration. These can range from working on the bandsaw mill to milking a goat. We cover the basics of tool use and create opportunities for skill development through the various day to day projects that we complete as part of farm / forest life.
Experiential learning also extends to your daily living. You will learn how to use and manage a composting toilet, how to cook with whole foods, and understand the importance of minimal water and energy consumption.
We also provide a forum for discussion, either in our morning meetings where we discuss projects and or systems, or during meal times where we encourage questions and discussion on a variety of topics.
We are a farm in the forest, with the wild community making up the majority of land that is accessible here at Twisted Roots Farm. Our backgrounds in outdoor programming and education provide a natural offering for us as we weave farm and forest together. We encourage volunteers to spend time in the woods, walk the property, and even try sleeping in more remote platform sites.
Nature-based Mentoring and Reflection
During your time here, our hope is that as you learn and tend to life on the farm, and be curious about the wild community that we are immersed in. Our approach is to offer ways to interact with the more-than-human community and from those interactions, we reflect what we hear which can provide powerful insights, metaphors, and imagery into aspects of your life that you may not have seen before. This is the power of spending mindful time in nature. Our work is based on various schools of thought, rooted in depth psychology. We resonate and have studied with the Animas Valley Institute, and use many nature-based practices developed by them.
As a core practice, we offer you to find a place on the property that you can visit each day, a sit spot, to observe and be in relationship with the wild community. From these interactions we begin to hear a story emerge and can offer other ways to explore these narratives within the wild community.
For more information on some of these nature-based philosophies, we recommend some of the following readings and websites:
- Animas Valley Institute, Bill Plotkin, Book: Soul Craft / Nature and the Human Soul / Wild Mind
- Martin Prechtel, Flowering Mountain, Book: The Unlikely Peace at Cuchamaquic
- Stephen Buhner, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginary Realm
The learning also extends into the areas of community interaction and relationship building. You will be working hard and living with folks you would not have known prior to your arrival. Communication is very important. As a part of your time here, we introduce volunteers to Way of Council, which is a talking circle format that we use. This practice provides the space for active listening as well as a way to express ourselves in a supportive environment. For more information on council, you can visit the Ojai Foundation website or check out the book “The Way of Council” by Jack Zimmerman and Virginia Coyle.
A Week in Detail
Participants arrive between 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm.
Arrivals in the evening accommodate those arriving by bus from all destinations south, as the bus arrives in Port Hawkesbury at 7:30 pm and we provide pickup from the bus station to our farm.
Upon your arrival, we provide a brief overview of the facilities and any essential information required for your first night.
8:00 am Breakfast
9:00 am Homestead tour and orientation
11:00 am Way of Council
1:00 pm Lunch
2:30 pm Power tool safety, orientation and use
4:00 pm Introduction to farm systems and routines
6:00 pm Dinner
9:00 pm Animal lock up and evening check
Wednesday morning, after breakfast, we begin with an orientation and full tour of the homestead and trails that surround the farm. This is also our first day of immersion on the farm, so we will introduce you to all of the systems related to our homesteading operation. On your first day, we will cover many different topics including an extensive amount of information. This is also a time for participants to start adjusting to off-grid living and working intimately with the land. Communication is also a core part of this immersion, and on your first day we introduce you to Way of Council, a practice of speaking and listening in a talking circle process that we will use to introduce ourselves, set intentions for the week, and connect as a group.
As we are a small permaculture farm situated in the forest, the surrounding community of trees, moss, brook, salamander, bird song and all that call this place home, our invitation to participants is to immerse yourselves in this environment. We invite you to spend time here to reflect, learn, and disconnect from modernity. We encourage you to engage in a daily practice of nature connection during your immersion time. There are many opportunities to build this practice into your daily schedule, from spending an afternoon in meditative reflection on one of our brookside platforms, to enjoying an evening sunset.
6:00 – 7:00 am Introduction to meditation – optional
7:30 am Check in, intentions, farm plan
8:00 am – 12:30 pm Farm routines / project work
12:30 pm Break
1:00 pm Lunch / discussion
3:00 pm Workshop (optional)
Breakfast and dinner are the responsibility of participants on Thursdays with meals prepared in the outdoor kitchen space with whole food ingredients we supply.
We offer an optional introduction to elemental meditation in the morning to help with the establishment of reflective time spent in nature as outlined in the previous day, encouraging participants to develop a core practice of nature connection during this immersion time.
There is also an optional workshop offered in the afternoon, which can cover a variety of topics and interests from the various activities we are engaged in here on the homestead. It could include soap making, sourdough baking, wood working, wild foraging, or any other activity that we are engaged in for that week as a part of our homesteading process.
During and after lunch, we invite discussions on a variety of topics. We keep this process fluid, however we like to explore a wide range of conversations related to the farm, homestead, off-grid living, environmental issues, nature, ecopsychology or anything that may arise from the morning on the homestead.
5:00 – 7:00 am Potential early morning harvesting
8:00 am Check-in, intentions, farm plan, community farm day
8:30 am – 12:30 pm Routines, project work
1:00 pm Lunch / discussion
Friday is the day we start to prepare for the weekend, which may include an early morning harvest in the garden, preparing veggies for the weekend when we open our farm stand. Friday afternoon and evening are open to allow for rest and self care or spending solo time in the forest.
Fridays are also the day we invite community members to join us for volunteering, providing participants the opportunity to meet our local community members. We will all share lunch afterwards.
Saturday & Sunday
We keep the schedule fluid on the weekend to accommodate the opening of the studio and the farm stand. We may also host workshops over the weekend, which is why we keep the weekend schedule more organic. Participants have the opportunity to participate in the various aspects of the weekend, which could include restocking the farm stand, participating in a hosted workshop, or being involved in the behind the scenes of how we interact with the larger community and create our economy from the homestead. During the weekend, we ask that participants prepare their own meals.
On Sunday, we wrap up the week with a gathering in the evening, including a potluck supper, where we can all share some food, music, and creativity and enjoy an evening together as we reflect and celebrate the week.
Monday is our day of rest on the homestead as we take our downtime, therefore we ask that participants be independent as we are not available. We recommend that you take this day to reflect deeply on the week, explore more of the forest, or connect with different aspects of the farm that speak to you. There are also many off-farm activities like beach walks, enjoying local music at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre, or hiking along the Celtic Trail that connects the local communities.
Tuesday is departure day, and we begin the morning with a closing council to connect before we part ways after our week together. For those staying on for a second week or longer, this will be another day off after the conclusion of council.
Those on a two-week schedule will have a modified Wednesday if there is an arrival during this week. There will be more involvement in farm routines and continued project work. There are also more opportunities to develop core daily practices in nature connection, meditation, yoga, reflection, journaling, creativity or anything else that you are discovering during your stay.
For extended immersions, we provide opportunity for more personalized project work based on the intentions of the participant and the needs of the farm. We work with participants to identify creative projects that support learning while exploring your interests. These can include a wide range of activities that are available as a part of the day-to-day flow on the homestead.
How to Apply
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the dates you are thinking of and we will respond with availability. Maximum stay for volunteers is two weeks. For longer stays, we require an interview with participants to discuss a longer term visit.