Jan & I live on 4.5 acres – it’s an irregular lot with 5 adjoining neighbours. For the past 10 years, Jeff & Rachel, and son Warren, have been one of them.

We’re both WWOOF hosts (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and have shared WWOOFers, and both been participants on the Gabriola Tour D’Coop, a self-guided tour of coops on the island. (see photos section for more on WWOOF and the Tour).

We live at the top of a sloping area, they’re at the bottom and get the rainwater run off from all the adjacent properties. It’s ideal for gardening and they’ve made the most of it.
I commute with Jeff (on the bus and the ferry) and we often talk about our latest projects.

He works in heating and refrigeration but he loves working on things at home. Jeff’s both skilled and creative as evidenced by the things he’s built: a fun barn style chicken coop with silo for storage and a light activated door opener. Five years ago he built a huge workshop, and later enclosed an attached solarium.

I took a tour of their grounds, which include their house, garage with accommodation above and a guest cabin.

They have a massive garden, which Rachel was just putting to bed. They’ve harvested berries, made cider, are drying nuts, and have stocked up their freezer. Jeff has solar water heating and hydroponic projects on the go. The pond at the back of their lot is used to irrigate their gardens. It’s a focal point for lots of wildlife and migratory birds- I know, because they fly over my place on their way there.

We went to visit their girls – 18 production layers – who have a large fenced area in the orchard. Just this week they lost two of their flock: one to a predator and another died mysteriously. They were quite happy to get the kale that Rachel pulled out in her garden clean up.

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