Green Communities

Back to the Land 2.0 - update

Some of the organizers of Back to the Land 2.0 met this past weekend and got to work preparing the site. The outhouse is being dug, the cook area is being cleaned up, and brush being cleared. They have been firming up some of the workshops and divying up any volunteer tasks. (They could use volunteers if you want to offer, especially for meal preparation.

Below are some FAQ about the gathering and a list of workshops on Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24 near Maynooth:

What should I expect from the gathering? Who we are. Why are we holding this gathering? Why back to the land 2.0? What should I expect for accommodations etc? What's the area like at this time of year? Why should I register? How do I get there? I would like to do a workshop, can I? What's this business about sustainable building workshops the week after? And Maynooth Madness and the Logger Games?

What should I expect from the gathering?

Primarily this is being organized as a space to come and share ideas and experiences, to socialize and build community networks of folks interested in this kind of living and projects. We also hope to encourage folks from long standing (or long fallen apart) communities to share their stories.

While the organizers will be putting together a schedule of workshops and planned events, meals and other logistical items ... it's a gathering, and the hope is that folks will take it upon themselves to self organize and facilitate.

Who we are.

The idea for the gathering came from members of the newly forming Black Fly Co-op and one of its neighbors at Dragonfly Farm, both located just outside Lake St. Peter, Ontario. Other local community members have joined in with us to help make it happen.

Black Fly is a group of Toronto-based activists, cultural workers and trades-people, who bought 100 acres of bush sandwiched between Dragonfly Farm and 1000's of acres of unpatented land (crown land). We got it cheap and spur of the moment a few years back, and have been slowly organizing ourselves and figuring out what to do with it. It's a beaver-swampy, moose-trodden, sugar bushy, kilometer-off-the-road never-on-the-grid old homestead and logging camp– pretty and hung with the thick air of a long history. We're adjacent to three other landholdings of like-minded people, in a part of the country heavily settled by our back-to-the-land predecessors, depressed by (primary) industrial flight, and rarely touched by the yuppies that plague our urban lives.

While many of us have worked with and appreciate environmental movements, organic farmers, and sustainable living practices, our backgrounds and activist schooling for the most part comes from an anti-racist, anti-poverty, and anti-capitalist focus which we are keen to keep present as we build things, grow things, and make use of this land.

Dragonfly Farm is 250 acres of old farmstead, which is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Existing in various forms over the years it holds with its still-standing farmhouse and conference site a rich history connecting back-to-the-landers and activists throughout the years. Members live both close by and across the country, and are connected to other communities in the area. The Dragonfly greenhouse is in operation this summer again and they are happy to host the gathering and celebration of their anniversary.

Other community members from the area are helping to put this event on and have connections to various land collectives and communities in the area.

Why are we holding this gathering?

At the core of this is the new Black Fly co-op which in its early formations is eager to share space with others doing similar projects, those who have skills and knowledge they can pass on, and to take this chance to meet together with other community members in the area. There is a rich history in the area of many intentional communities and 'back to the land' projects and we hope to bring those stories and experience to the gathering. It's a chance to build and strengthen community networks.

Some of us just want to build cool things. Others want to socialize and celebrate the anniversary. Some want to camp and swim and hike, interspersed with good conversations and the mixing ideas. Some of us just like to organize things.

Why Back to the land 2.0?

Many of us organizing this conference aren't planning on living on the land, or going 'back to it'. Some are. Some have. Some never want to again. But we identify back-to-the-land as a movement going back several decades that moved from urban centres to the rural (as popularized in primarily white North American alternative culture) This movement held many of the values and sought out a lot of similar experience that many of us today have learned from or somehow identify with.

And the 2.0 ... well it's really just a catchy phrase from the term Web 2.0, which speaks of a new generation, but also a whole new way of looking at things in a different context as technology and thinking changes.

What should I expect for accommodations etc?

Come as if you were going camping for a weekend (or more if you're staying longer). Bring food, toilet paper, tents, water, rain gear and sun gear. Collective meals will make a lot of sense and we'll organize that when everyone's there. Feel free to check in with us if you need to.

We'll have a field and camping space. It's called 'the conference site' and has been used as such before. There is some rain cover for workshops and cooking, some meals, and drinking water. There are outhouses nearby. There is a bonfire pit as well.

The farm, with running water, is a 10 minute walk. Basic groceries and a diner are five minutes away by car, a library with inter net is 10 minutes away, a few box stores and a small town are 25 min.

What's the area like at this time of year?

If you've been to Algonquin Park you'll have a good idea. We're up fairly high here so it can get cool at nights, but August is thought to be the best time of the year when the bugs only come for late dinner, the days are sunny, and the water is warm.

Why should I register?

The more we know about who to expect, the more we'll be able to prepare. Also, we may want to get in touch with you before the weekend.

How do I get there?

See the Back to the Land 2.0 website.

Use the rideshare board, or if all else fails you can take the Greyhound bus to Maynooth a few minutes away and if you let us know we can pick you up.

I would like to do a workshop, can I?

At this point we're still looking for folks who want to give workshops, so please check with us. We're hoping too that the folks will feel free to start up discussions throughout the gathering.

What's this business about sustainable building workshops the week after?

There are two planned projects in the works around the time of this gathering. At Dragonfly they are building a cordwood sauna, and out on Black Fly there is a DIY yurt being made for people to stay in.

Both projects will be the focus of a workshop during the gathering, but will continue afterwards and we invite others to stay and help with it and learn how they are made.

And Maynooth Madness and the Logger Games?

Maynooth is the municipal center of the area and a great little town. If you happen to stay until Labour Day weekend, there is the bonus of the festivities happening in Maynooth and area. Street fairs, logger games, agricultural fair, and community parties.

More information about Maynooth

List of workshops and the general schedule for the gathering.

Folks are welcome to make their own workshops on the fly if you're inspired, but let us know if you have a workshop you would like to fit into the rest of the schedule.

Friday, August 22 - people arrive in afternoon/evening Set-up and dinner

Saturday, August 23

10 a.m – NATIVE-SETTLER RELATIONS*

Education and discussion with members of the Algonquins of Whitney and Baptiste Lake. At the Dragonfly Greenhouse

Noon - Lunch*

1:30 p.m. – PAST AND FUTURE OF THE BACK-TO-THE-LAND MOVEMENT

Patti O' Stone shares local history, then we open up a discussion. At the Dragonfly Greenhouse

4 p.m. – NATURE WALK

Stu Vickars of Dragonfly and Roger Powell, retired forester, will lead participants on a walk of the Dragonfly property past the beaver pond identifying plants and their uses along the way. We'll talk about the roles different species (including us) play with each other in the development of the local ecosystem. Meet at the Dragonfly Big House

4 p.m. - YURT DESIGN INTRODUCTION

Join the Blackfly building committee and go over the plans for a DIY homemade yurt. Folks are encouraged to stay for the week and help build the yurt.

Sunday, August 24

10 a.m. - ORGANIZING AS A CO-OP (to be arranged). Meet the Conference Site Outdoor Kitchen

10 a.m. – CORD WOOD SAUNA CONSTRUCTION

Cordwood building is a method that lends itself nicely to the north bush where straw bales or clay for cob are not so easy to come by. The wood is stacked so your wall is like a woodpile filled with mortar and insulation, 9-10" thick. The building you'll be helping construct on a Dragonfly field is a sauna, for communal use. We'll be starting with post & beam construction before infilling with cordwood. Led by Joe and Sunday. Meet at the Outdoor Conference Site, the build site is a five minute walk.

1:30 p.m. – RESISTANCE TO URANIUM MINING

Join Robin Simpson & Christine Atrill, founders FUME (Fight Uranium Mining and Exploration) to hear about uranium mining in the area, what community organizations are doing to stop it, and how to plug in. First Nations sovereignty issues, health effects, and how to protect your land from mining exploration. At the Dragonfly Greenhouse

4 p.m. – OPEN DISCUSSION - BUILDING AND LIVING IN THE COUNTRY

Building codes and the legendary 10x10. Discussion on bylaws and building and the realities of building your dream castle in the woods. How to make $$ living in the country

4 p.m. – COMPOSTING AND WORKING THE SOIL*

Get the dirt on dirt! Whether you're a weekend farmer, an urban agriculturalist or have visions of growing your own food in the country, here's what you need to know about the Soil Food Web - all the brilliant life forms under our feet. Healing and building soil for food production with not a petrochemical in sight, and healing woodlot soils following poor forest management. With Sunday and Joe. Meet at the Conference Site Outdoor Kitchen

7 p.m. – DINNER

Monday, August 25 – Sunday August 31

DIY Yurt building - Come learn and help construct a low budget Yurt out of local and recovered materials. (Out on Blackfly - 25 minute walk in the bush)

Cordwood Sauna - The newest addition to Dragonfly Farm, we'll be assembling the stackwall this week.

Dragonfly Greenhouse - depending on interest and number of people we may also reassemble the Dragonfly greenhouse system.

Read and enjoy and send any info requests to infoatbacktotheland20.ca