The first full week of the program will be devoted to an overview of the farm lifecycle, including the nature of healthy soil, the social life of the farm community, farmscape ecology, composting, rotational grazing of animals, pollinator habitat, crop rotation and the basic principles of biodynamic agriculture. Participants will also be introduced to the local farmers markets and other sites of interest in the surrounding areas.
Curriculum 9:45 -1:00 with 15 minute snack at 11:00
This is a twofold unit that begins with a discussion of the politics of food, including global hunger, climate change and its consequences, agribusiness, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture. This will be supplemented by hands-on work with the resident chef. Participants will plan meals around the availability of seasonal, organic ingredients, with particular focus on budget, nutrition, local sourcing and minimization of waste. The chef will teach food preparation, baking and cooking skills, along with traditional means of preserving food, including fermenting, smoking, drying and canning.
The Watershed Farm Apiary will offer participants the opportunity to learn the skills involved in operating a land-based natural beekeeping business. Participants will learn hive care, honey and pollen extraction and the importance of healthy pollinator habitat and they will visit nearby bee yards and apiaries. The apiary will also serve as a living classroom for basic business skills including pricing, packaging and marketing, budgeting, cash flow and the development of products such as salves, candles and mead.
Watershed Farm Biodynamic Seeds is a farm-based business supplying quality biodynamic seeds to larger seed companies. Participants will be involved in every aspect of running the WFP seed production enterprise, from breeding, germination testing and crop evaluations and trials, to harvesting, drying, threshing and cleaning of seed crops. This will impart valuable business skills including maintaining inventories, eliminating shrinkage and loss of product, packaging and marketing, cash flow projection, contract negotiations and product delivery.
The first half of this week will be spent largely in our forest as we learn to observe and respond to the species around us. We will learn to identify native plants, mushrooms, trees and shrubs and spend our nights learning basic astronomy. We will spend a day with a Mi’kmaq elder who keeps alive the ancient art of building birchbark canoes. The second half of the week and the weekend will be spent on a backcountry canoe trip in Kejimkujik National Park, travelling and living together through the lakes and forests that surround us.
Recently retired instructor of Sustainable Forestry Practices, Andrew Ross will take us through critical skills of safe chainsaw use, identifying trees and forest ecosystems, selection and safe felling practices, invasive species and restoration strategies. We will learn how to assess the health of the forest, how to maintain useable woods road systems to access different areas, how to manage light in the canopy for regeneration and to limb up trees we plan to harvest in the future for lumber. We will visit local woodlots and compare sustainable woodlot practices and the effects of clearcutting on habitat and regrowth. We will also learn to mill trees for lumber and how to cut, split and stack firewood for the winter.
Master carpenter and sculptor Joe Veres will work with participants to plan and design a simple working farm structure, including engineering considerations and materials planning.
Participants will be trained on the safe handling and use of power and hand tools and learn how to choose the right tool for the job.
Storytelling is fundamental to the human experience. All Project participants will attend the internationally acclaimed Lunenburg Documentary Film Festival. Over the next few weeks, we will begin to shape ideas for stories that we would like to tell. We will be assisted by Joan Baxter, an investigative journalist and writer who will share her experiences in Africa and her work on environmental issues in Nova Scotia. Renowned filmmaker and food blogger Aube Giroux will take us through the basics of documentary filmmaking. We will learn how to film, record, edit and shape our stories into two short films and hear about the challenges and winning strategies of getting our work out to the world.
In this block we will work with Angus Smith, a retired civil servant, to examine some of the different structures of government, learn about the complexities of international relations and expand our understanding of what it means to be engaged citizens in a rapidly changing world.
The final week of the Watershed Farm Project is dedicated to all of us as we reflect on what we have taken from the experience and the ways that we can continue to grow. This is also the week to express our gratitude for all that we have given each other. And it is the time to express our hopes for what the future holds for each of us. It is also the week for rigorous examination of the ways that the Watershed Farm Project can better serve the needs of those who will come in the future.