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Concert at Ferguson Farm
Running a farm is hard work and having a few pairs of helping hands can make all the difference, especially in the growing season. Over the years, Jane Ferguson of Ferguson Farm has found plenty of help from international students who signed up to be WWOOFers. On Thursday, August 1, Ferguson will be visited by a WWOOFer whose talents stretch beyond farming into the field of music. Quebec singer-songwriter, Matthew McCullly will stop at the Ferguson Farm at 985 Grafton Road for a performance at 7 p.m. and islanders are welcome to attend.
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (http://www.wwoofinternational.org/) and the organization provides volunteers with first-hand experience in organic and ecologically sound production methods in exchange of work for food and accommodation. Ferguson says she has hosted about 20 students. “All of them are lovely young men and women who were here to learn about farming in Canada,” she said, adding that it was this experience that inspired her to travel to Adelaide, Australia, to learn about permaculture and sustainability.
“They taught me it’s never too late to do our part, however small, to reduce our carbon footprint, one farm at a time,” Ferguson said. “As a WWOOF Canada host, I feel fortunate to know these wonderful young men and women. Often, I end up learning from them.”
Ferguson has owned her 27-acre property for 37 years and has lived there full-time for 10 years. Most of her herbs and vegetables are grown from seeds. Currently helping her on the farm are Kaho, a WWOOFer from Kyoto, and Robbie Sevoie. Patrick Colvin has also been a WWOOFer at the Ferguson Farm and is still coming to visit on the weekends. “I stayed there from January to May,” Colvin said, adding that he has been living on many Canadian farms and is interested in organic food production. “WWOOF provides great opportunities to meet interesting people who are looking for an alternative life style” he said. “Many of the farmers are looking to get away from mass-produced things and do something they enjoy.”
Working on an organic farm also meant that Colvin was able to travel without having to spend a lot of money. “[Staying on] Bowen was a unique experience for me,” he said. “I wanted to find a place where I could put in a good amount of hard work and still have enough time to look for a job. Living with Jane was wonderful and the place represents a lot to me.” Colvin adds that he is now working in Vancouver but still visits the farm to help out.
Colvin will be there on Wednesday night for McCully’s concert, along with Ferguson, Kaho and Sevoie.
The Ferguson Farm is one of McCully’s stops along a 11,000 kilometre music tour from his home in Sherbrooke, Quebec, to British Columbia for a performance at the Edge of the World Music Festival on Haida Gwaii on August 9. Along the way, he has been invited to perform at around 20 family and organic farms. The concert at the Ferguson Farm will be recorded for a documentary video.