In 2016, we sold our home in Cumberland, B.C. and said goodbye to family and friends. We had both been dreaming about living in a wild space, one with more separation from the cultural pressure we were feeling from the economic growth our community was experiencing. We had just established a small urban farm on 1/2 an acre in a growing vibrant village and had been founding members of the Cumberland Lake Wilderness Society, dedicated to wilderness education and awareness. We were, by all cultural standards and norms, on the verge of success. However, being immersed directly in an urban environment was wreaking havoc on both of us through the witnessing of over-development and the lack of relationship with the land.
After selling our home and the majority of our possessions, we hit the road with a 25 foot travel trailer and started following the threads of the dream. Four months later we found ourselves on the other side of the country. From the small village of Cumberland along the Pacific Ocean to the shores of the Atlantic in Judique, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island, we found ourselves becoming the stewards of 74 acres of raw land. A long, long way from home, family, and friends.
Arriving here in the spring of 2017, we found ourselves at the beginning of a homesteading adventure. Our first year was one of landing and arriving in an environment that was far from home, and in that first year we built a small cabin and simply observed the land that we were asking to accept us as the cultural orphans we are, trying to re-member our place in a wild community that we knew nothing of. We had both spent significant time in wild spaces and landscapes, however this was a much deeper immersion into a life in the woods living off-grid. We also had dreams of connecting to our food, eating what we could grow, and designing permaculture systems that would create diversity and resilience as we terra formed the landscape to create a resilient human habitat.
Our process of land development has been one of building diversity. This was a forest when we arrived and she was doing just fine without our interference, however we truly feel that this place chose us. It is an agreement we have and continue to negotiate in order to support our human lives on this land.
It has been a journey of hard work, sacrifice, and hardship with the greatest teachings we could have ever imagined. For that, we can truly say we have been blessed, and we acknowledge the great privilege we have been offered. It is certainly not for most as we continue to embrace many simplicities and forgo modern conveniences as we continue to evolve and grow with this place. There are days that can challenge the heart and soul, especially in the realm of slow farming with only two people tending to the lives of so many. We are still working towards a vision that at times feels impossible, especially in the shadow of the pandemic which has left us feeling uncertain of what the future holds. We have had to shift and adjust without the required help that we had hoped for as we continue to open this place up to others for learning and creating community.
For 2023, we are looking forward to once again opening our doors for learning as we start to emerge from the depths of the pandemic. We have scaled back many of our farming operations due to the challenges faced, and embracing and honing our skills in homesteading. This has lead to the creation of many handmade items sourced directly from this land and the farm that we are pleased to be sharing with others. New directions have also led us to more educational programming and workshops where we are combining some of our previous careers and knowledge with the knowledge gained from this precious time here on this land.