And so now that we are moved in, we want someone(s) to join us here on this beautiful piece of paradise! Here is our 'INVITATION TO SHARE":
We are a family of 3 (Jonathan, Gillian and 10-year-old son Jamie)
living in the beautiful Yalakom Valley north west of Lillooet, interested in sharing our land and lifestyle with like-minded others in order to create a mutually beneficial, inspiring and socially stimulating circumstance for ourselves. To that end, we are looking for folks who value organic agriculture, ecology, herbalism, alternative building, off grid living, and (ideally) have a kid or kids of similar age to Jamie; if no kids, compatibility and active, real interest in kids is a must. If this sounds interesting to you, read on!
The piece of paradise we steward is about 70 acres of a larger (198 acre) parcel that used to be a ranch, perched on a long bench above the Yalakom River. Much of our place in steep and forested, but the flatter 10 or so acres is open meadow, suitable for haying, grazing or growing. In February of 2014, we moved into our newly built post-and-beam/straw-bale house, designed and built by Jonathan, with the help of many hands. (see past posts for pictures and more of that story).
The Yalakom Valley is located in Northern St'at'imc Territory, 45 minutes from Lillooet on a winding, bumpy road. Climatically, we are in the transition zone between the Coast Mountains to the west, and the dry Interior Plateau to the east. Since the early 1970s, this valley has been home to a small community of alternative-minded folks who have experimented with varying degrees of intentionality and communal living over the years. In this current phase we live mostly as individual families, though we still cooperate to host community gatherings at the Solstices, occasional work-bees, pot-lucks, games-, music- and sauna-nights, as well as participating deeply in regional land use strategies and issues.
Gillian and Jonathan have lived in the valley since the late '90s, with a two year hiatus on Galiano Island. Jonathan employs himself doing carpentry and odd jobs, and, as well as working on an endless list of projects around the place, loves writing poetry, riding his mountain bike, occasionally going to the city for Contact Improv jams and classes, as well as brewing his own beer. Gillian, an herbalist since 25+ years, owns and operates "Gillian's Herbs", a small, home based herbal products company (www.gilliansherbs.com), does home care for a local elder, and teaches Nia (www.nianow.com), a whole body, fun, fitness and movement technique set to music. Gillian also has a soft spot for animals, currently caring for 4 horses (Jonathan does the hoof trimming, and lots of hay hauling). Jamie is a bright, healthy and active 10-year-old boy, into Lego, Karate, parkour, audio-books, playing drums, hanging out with chickens, and riding his bike. Jamie has chosen not to attend regular school, so over the years we have experimented with different home-schooling curricula and methodologies. We are currently following the non-coercive, interest-directed philosophy of Life Learning. (http://www.lifelearningmagazine.com/definitions/index.htm).
Both Jonathan and Gillian have contributed their efforts to local land use strategies, mainly negotiations with forestry companies and promoting Ecosystem Based Planning. Gillian is a member of the regional government (SLRD)'s Agricultural Advisory Committee; past member of Lillooet Food Matters and Salmon Talks Lillooet; past community representative on the Sekw'el'was (Cayoosh) Restoration Advisory Committee.
Our current projects on the land include:
- organically* growing and processing a wide variety of medicinal herbs for "Gillian's Herbs"
- an acre of organically grown* hops for microbreweries, planted Fall of 2014, thanks to advice and help from HOOH (http://www.lillooetnews.net/news/community/hooh-hops-a-harvest-hit-1.1479440) and Crannog Ales (www.crannogales.com) and friends
- organically* growing the vast majority of our culinary herbs, veggies (especially potatoes, garlic, shallots and onions), most of our spring to fall veggies; some fruit
- processing food including freezing, canning, and making sauerkraut, yogurt, salsa, applesauce, etc
- nurturing a new orchard (apple, apricot, cherry and plum trees so far; berry bushes including strawberry, raspberry, elderberry, currant, justa, haskap honeysuckle, gooseberry; hazelnuts)
- organically raising "heritage" chickens for meat from summer to fall
- composting horse and chicken manure for the gardens, hops and orchard
- installing deer fencing around the perimeter
* we are applying for organic certification in 2015
We have hosted over 75 WWOOFers, workawayers, herbal apprentices, friends, and family who have helped us tremendously over the years both on the house and in the gardens and on the land. We happily hosted a Mud Girls Earth Plaster workshop in 2011, which empowered us to host our own earth plastering workshop the following summer, and we are proud to say our walls have been touched by hundreds of hands. We love the input of new ideas, fresh outlooks, and different cultures coming here to visit, help and share in the beauty of this land, and have made many lasting relationships as a result.
POTENTIAL PROJECTS IN THE NEAR FUTURE:
- expand the herbal products company
- raise sheep for meat, possibly wool, while they help us weed the hop yard
- raise laying hens for egg production
- grow more food to sell, trade and to fulfill most or all of our food needs (minus the coffee, olive oil, spices, etc!) = inching closer to food sustainability
- build and ride mountain bike trails here
- build smaller one storey straw bale cabins while teaching alternative building skills to the public
- re-train 2 of our 4 horse friends to pull machinery to work the land (cut hay; till the soil; haul logs; spread manure, etc.) and pull a buggy for local transportation and fun!
LARGER DREAM PROJECTS IF WE ARE EVEN LUCKIER:
- build a minimalist aka simple and modest Dance and Movement Arts Retreat Centre
- build an organic brewery
- become a mountain bike destination or hot spot (camp?)
- build an alternative building style sauna and bath house
GOAL IN FINDING LAND MATES:
- improve social life here for us
- share this beautiful piece of paradise and provide land for like minded people
- achieve a synergistic level of
person-power that allows us to accomplish our dreams and projects while also having fun!
Our hope is to connect with people who are willing to come and try sharing this land to determine if we are compatible. After an initial trial period, we would make a few successively longer-term agreements, hoping to find a balance of security and flexibility. When the time and partnership are right, we would sign a Memorandum of Understanding, so that whatever we have collectively agreed upon is formalized, and able to be referred to. The details of such and agreement would be worked out thoughtfully, together, one step at a time.
Please contact us if these ideas appeal to and inspire you! And if not, please pass this information on to whomever you think might find it interesting.
Websites to check out to further give you more of a picture of who we are and where we live :
- vastmountain.ca = scroll through this blog about our house building adventure
- gilliansherbs.com = Gillian's herbal products website
- http://www.thegreengazette.ca/sage-birchwater-arts-culture-lived-experience-literary-journal-a-legacy-to-culture/ = an interesting article published recently about a literary journal that Jonathan (aka Swamp) plays an important role in, published in the Yalakom by a long time resident and friend
thanks for taking the time to read through this!