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.
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