Sunday, 19 December 2010

The Pride of Sustainable Living

Most of you who I have been in contact with recently will know I am currently staying in Abbotsford, a town located about an hours drive east of Vancouver, on a farm named Goat's Pride Dairy. Those of you who don't know this, I'm telling the truth, honest.

Before I left England to head to Canada I decided to join an orgnaisation known as WWOOF, also known as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. This allows travelers to volunteer on farms with food and accomodation provided but no pay is given. I didn't exactly have as much money as I'd hoped before I came out here, so this scheme sounded like a good way for me to try something new and save a penny or two in the process.

So here I am, working on a farm which attempts to be as ecologically friendly as possible, and to try it's hand at sustainable living. The fountain of knowledge that is Wiki leads me to believe the definition of sustainable living is 'a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual's or society's use of the Earth's natural resource and his/her own resource...(this incluces) altering methods of transportation, energy, consumption and diet.'

And as far as I can see, Goat's Pride goes to endless lengths to try and meet this definition. The Dykstra's, the family here, have a staggering nine children, five of which are still at home. Along with up to seven WWOOFers at a time (yes, that's what we call ourselves) this can make it all very difficult when you imagine how much waste this amount of people can produce.

However, I'm impressed by how little one can waste when you really put your mind to it. Very little rubbish actually goes in the bin here that we use for anything that cannot eventually be reused. There is half a room dedicated to various containers for different substances to be recycled. Two bins in the kitchen under the sink are for compost, into which all food leftovers go if they are inedible. Waste from the goats sits in a huge pile waiting to bagged up and sold as fertiliser gold to various other landowners. Another room is dedicated to anything made in jars, from jam to apple sauce to various fruits. The juice leftover from any of these goes into a big container used to drink at breakfast. And man alive is it delicious.

The pride of Goat's Pride, the little babes!
Even things such as clothes never go to waste. Having had over two hundred WWOOFers in around five years, Jo-Ann (motherhen) has accumulated a whole cupboard full of clothing abandoned by other people. These are used by all of us in the barn as muck-about clothing, and one can even find treasures in there to take home with us and adore.

Other people's waste comes in handy too. We get a truck load of bread each week from the organic bakery as they can no longer sell it due to it being past its sell by date. This family never has to buy bread because a huge amount of this is perfectly edible, and the rest goes to the goats. Similarly, several boxes of vegetables comes from an organic grocery store each week to feed us and our bleeting little pals.
As well as sorting out the waste, this family creates too. Obviously with the goats, we have a natural resource to be able to provide ourselves with milk, cheese, and yoghurt. And I am proud to say I have witnessed the process through which this come from udder to our very own kitchen table. We are also provided with eggs from a little crowd of chickens, Some of the eggs are sold as a fair amount is produced, but there are plenty for ourselves too.

Milk bottle I lovingly labelled,
ready to be filled and sold.
Everything here seems like one big circle of events, from creation to consumption, and eventually its reuse somewhere along the line. I have to say, I admire this little community for the dynamic they have created in order to try and make sure everything has a purpose. Once it completes its first mission, there is no doubt something else it can be used for.

I think this is something we can all forget from time to time, and as much as government schemes are out there to try and generate more recycling, it boils down to our laziness as to why we can't all be this way. Everyone does it, I certainly do. It's just easier to chuck everything in one bin and forget about it, rather than make a conscious effort to try and maintain the amount of waste you produce and to make it into something new.

I've learnt a lot from my stay here at Goat's Pride already, and intend to take home with me much more in the coming weeks. More info can be found on their website, on Facebook or Twitter.

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