As winter started to loosen its firm grip on Toronto, green things began sprouting out of my mind. I wanted to plant some seeds! It was still too cold to plant anything outside but my green thumb was itchy. I decided to get some seeds sprouting in the warmth and the indirect light on the 3rd floor so that they’d be ready for a transplant to the garden by the time spring officially decided to move in.
First step, seeds! We looked through our gardening inventory and found several packets of seeds. The problem was, they were all a year or more past their expiration date. I’m not a big believer in expiration dates. I developed a keen awareness of their arbitrariness while dumpster diving as my main source of food. However, the efficacy of seeds could be more complex than using my nose to tell if a container full of yogurt was spoiled or not. I began searching online for how to test if old seeds were still good or not.
An empty room vibrates with stories. It’s walls crackle with the twists and turns of its previous residents’ lives. Something brought each person to that particular room for a space in time. They nested. They had epiphanies, they doubted themselves, they had their hearts broken, they found love elsewhere. They left. What brought me to this particular room at this space in time? What similarities does my story have to those who have come and left, lived and loved, dreamt and despaired within this cube of energy sitting on a ball of matter floating through the vacuum of space? I’m not sure, but I thought it would look really cool to install shelves on that wall.
I found it hard to sleep in that room for the first week. Each night, my mind would be zipping around the room splashing light from imaginary fixtures, framing art in unusual places, and planting living walls that would overflow with green. I gazed at the plaster left behind on the recently exposed brick walls and saw waterfalls. I thought about making fountains in the room and wondered how I would keep them from leaking everywhere. I thought about tracing the shadow that the street lamp outside cast upon my walls after jumping through the branches of a tree.
What is community? For us it’s hard to hit the nail on the head. In summer, it is easy to feel and see, it is cooking amazing food we’ve grown, sharing it together on the front porch, people busy cooking, working on building projects and sharing the abundance of the warmer months.
With the right people, community just flows. However in winter, that same buzz isn’t so much alive, it quietens down. But it’s occasions when we come together such as the New Moon Ceremony we held last night that ground that sense of community again. A space we created to share music, writing and meditation to set our intentions for 2015.
A chance to come together and be creative.
Airbnb is a global phenomenon exemplifying the power of technology and online branded platforms that allow everyday people to get a ‘slice of the pie’ that once was reserved for business owners or the very brave. Our digital age has seemingly made it possible for anyone to be a taxi driver albeit Uber or bed and breakfast owner – thanks to Airbnb!
Our detached cabin is the perfect nook for paying guests to step in and out of our community life as they please. For Lotus Feast we’ve found the benefits of Airbnb to be wide ranging, including:
- It is a way to share what we are doing with interested visitors.
- Enables the cabin to be available for house members for special needs. i.e: a guest or romantic partner, or just a personal retreat. Either between bookings or with advance notice.
- We can have the option of offering our cabin to nearby neighbours in need of space for visiting guests.
- It is also interesting to participate in the new sharing economy trend.
Our Lotus Feast home
- Brings in a fair bit of extra revenue so there is less need to raise rents, less need to seek full revenue from all rooms allowing for either less people or more work-exchangers. And more space created for shared community use. And we can put some of the revenue towards increasing the food budget.
- Great incentive to keep the house clean and organized.
- Nice to learn about and experience living with a diversity of people from various cultures and backgrounds. We can feel connected to the world. Instead of going travelling the travelers come to us.
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In the midst of building our rooftop deck. That’s our edible rooftop garden in the background!
Work exchange is like a holiday with a purpose. If you’re looking to learn how to live a ‘greener’ lifestyle, this is the work exchange house for you. It gives people the chance to work in exchange for food and board and experience what it means to live in a ‘sustainable focused community house’.
So what are the kinds of jobs you would be doing? Without a word of a lie, these are some of the things I have worked on, which have been more like heavenly learning experiences than ‘work’ (see photos at the bottom of this post):
Dehydrated kale chips
- Brewing kamboocha
- Picking cherries & apples from neighborhood trees to make jam
- Making chemical-free paint and painting walls
- Making kale chips in the dehydrator
- Building a roof-top deck
- Making sauerkraut
- Growing food for our kitchen – tomatoes, herbs & edible flowers
- Shopping at local farmers markets
- Helping out with tidying around the house
Our latest project at Lotus Feast has been clay plaster painting our new yoga room walls, it’s 100% free of chemicals and uses natural mineral dies. This isn’t the first time we’ve used plaster paint as an alternative to traditional paint, but this time we went a little further – we’ve added flower petals from our garden to the wall!
A shot of the process: the natural sandy colour captures natural light while still creating a sense of warmth and depth to the room.
A beautiful textured and natural finish, the sandy colour gives our yoga room an earthy warm feeling and the petals make it our little piece of lasting summer no matter how long the Toronto winter lasts. Into the wet paint we blew, threw and pressed hand-cut nasturtium, lavender and yellow daisy petals from our garden.
Why you should give it a go…
- It is a beautiful all natural alternative
- The textured sand finish adds an earthy feel to your home
- It does not require extra plastering to get a perfectly smooth wall, because the of the thickness and texture of clay paint covers it up, meaning less time spent sanding and plastering the walls
- No need to prime the entire wall, you just need to prime any dusty areas (e.g. plastered seams and plastered screws)
Petals that look like goldfish chatting
A few tips and tricks we’ve learnt on the way… Continue reading