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Taking root

Homesteading, modern-style, gaining popularity

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/7/2013 (1493 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

FRASERWOOD -- We're on the road back to the homestead era with garden vegetables, home-grown chickens and rabbits ... plus all the comforts of washers, dryers, fridges and stoves.

We visited Nourished Roots, a 320-acre farm about half an hour north of Teulon on Hwy 7, 89 kilometres north of Winnipeg. There was a one-day festival at this site earlier this summer and classes called Traditional Wisdom, Modern Kitchen will run later this fall.

Adrienne with Noah and Hannah in a field of wild flowers behind their farm.

Adrienne with Noah and Hannah in a field of wild flowers behind their farm.

The chicken coop.

The chicken coop.

Hannah, Trevor, Adrienne and Noah working in the garden.

Hannah, Trevor, Adrienne and Noah working in the garden.

Noah and Rex on the steps of the newly built composting tiolet.

Noah and Rex on the steps of the newly built composting tiolet.

Trevor with the newly built cob oven.

Trevor with the newly built cob oven.

Nourished Roots is also a company founded by two young families that run a business (and website) best described as modern homesteading. Think wholesome food you don't need a label for, home-grown in your backyard or supplied by farmers you know.

A common thread to the many facets of modern homesteading is a focus on skills your grandmother probably knew. This is a growing movement that's environmentally conscious and looking for easy, practical ways to eat well and live well with a philosophy of connecting their kids and themselves back to the land.

Near Fraserwood, a farmhouse with a wrap-around veranda is set off a tidy farm yard. It looks modern, but don't be fooled.

The house is a homestead from the early 20th century that lacked plumping and electricity until just eight years ago. The previous owners updated the house, finishing it with the veranda and giving it a facelift that took a century off its looks.

There's a small red barn, a vegetable garden and the cleanest chicken coop outside a TV commercial. The chickens follow the owners around like puppy dogs.

Foxes aren't picking off the laying hens here. Owls and hawks do.

The property is surrounded by a green lawn and 15-metre high stands of white poplar.

Adrienne and Trevor Percy moved out in September, purchasing the spread after dreaming about one for years.

They brought their son Noah, 9, and Hannah, 6, to a life in the country.

Rex, their mastiff cross, cheerfully hauls animal skulls and bones out of the bush for toys, giving a twist to the old tale about a dog burying his bones. This one probably had to ferret them out of tangles of overgrowth. He tries to keep the owls and hawks away from the chickens, too.

The Percys expect the second half of the Nourished Roots company, Kris Antonius and Mike Berg, to join them, eventually building a second house on the property.

In June, they hosted a homesteading festival, an inaugural event that fast sold out and drew 350 visitors.

"It was our first one," Adrienne Percy said. Raised in Riverton, a community that's the stop-off for the winter ice road across Lake Winnipeg, Percy said she grew up close to the land. But even she was a bit surprised at the popularity of the event.

"In a sense," she said, quick to add, "There's an appetite for that stuff. I was that person and we put together our dream event."

Percy described the food movement that emerged out of environmental convictions, a true lifestyle change.

"People are sensing the direction we're going is not sustainable. I'm talking about the environment, I'm talking about the earth but I'm also talking about our lives, our health, that spark to connect. . . When people feel unhealthy, they start looking for something."

And she said, they're looking back in time for what works.

Then she smiles. "Besides it's deeply satisfying to pull a carrot from the ground or go pick raspberries from the bush. People feel that," she said.

This fall the Nourishing Roots is holding a series of workshops called Traditional Wisdom, Modern Kitchen.

Read more by Alexandra Paul.


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Updated on Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 10:33 AM CDT: Edited headline and story. Fixed errors.

10:37 AM: Edited, fixed errors.

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