Much of the practical experience that we at Sunshine Saved have acquired about sustainable living has been through our actions and experiences at our farm in the Gatineau Hills just north of Ottawa, Canada’s capital.
- Our off-grid “green home” is built on the farm
- Our family’s journey to sustainable living. An accounting of our resource use, including at the farm.
- The inspiration for our farm and Sunshine Saved. An essay on some of our motivations.
The farm is almost 150 acres, and found along the shore of Manitou Bay, part of a reservoir of the Gatineau River. It is hilly and mostly forested, but it also has about 20 acres of hayfields and a few acres of wetlands. We designed and built a highly efficient off grid house near the water, which was completed in 2014. Farming and land management plans are being implemented as time and resources allow.
Our farm is much like the others in our area of the hills north of the city of Ottawa. The area was settled by farmers in the late 1800’s, following along with the loggers who cut their way up each of the major rivers of the region. These farms initially provided subsistence for the families living on them, as well as some production to sell onto the logging camps or down towards the city. As the economics of the area shifted, our farm, along with many of the others, moved to become largely pasture and hayfields for beef cattle. Of course, only a modest amount of the land was ever cleared, those areas that were the flattest and with the best soil. The rest has stayed in forest continuously, though with extensive logging during the last 150 years.
We have been on the property since 2012, spending the first few years getting to know the property and planning for production and management. Plans are currently in place to sustainably harvest wood from our forest, plant out an orchard, maintain a large vegetable garden, as well as some foraging, hunting, and fishing for wild species. We have an arrangement with one of the neighboring farmers to cut our hayfields each year to feed his beef cattle through the winter. We may one day use our hay onsite, but don’t currently have the time necessary to raise livestock. The future steps in our land management and homesteading activities will be blogged about on this site, and we will always try to tie our modest-scale activities back to larger sustainability issues.