Scotland to Vancouver Island: A volunteer reflection from Glenora Farm
written by Glenora Farm volunteer Hannah Munro and featured in the Valley Voice in 2017
In January of this year, I boarded a plane from Aberdeen, Scotland headed for Vancouver Island. With a two-year open work permit to Canada and next-to-no plan, I was excited, and a little bit daunted. My first (and ultimately last) stop was to be Glenora Farm.
Nestled in the heart of the Cowichan Valley, Glenora Farm is a small yet vibrant community; a residential home for adults with special needs; a biodynamic farm and now, my home. Approximately twenty ‘companions’ and a further 20 coworkers from all around the world call this place home. Living and working together, the community strives to provide a warm and fulfilling environment for everyone. It became evident very soon after arriving that my time on the farm was not going to be a short one. Instead I have prolonged my stay here a comical amount of times, and I do not have any plans to move on soon!
It is near impossible to describe an average day on the farm – not one day is the same. Seriously, you NEVER know what to expect. My daily tasks can range anywhere from physical care work, to mucking out the barn, harvesting our garden produce then to swimming lessons, taxi rides and finally home to cook dinner. Oh and laundry – lots of laundry! My role is endless. Some days this seems like a daunting, near impossible task to complete, but at least you never get bored. I get to explore different areas of work; from the artistic, including our weavery, hand bell ensemble & drama workshop, to more land based activities, including gardening and farm and estate chores.
“Having recently graduated from university and having wandered down many potential career paths, I found myself aching for something bigger, with more of a social impact. I believe volunteering has provided me with more fulfillment and sense of purpose than a job could give me.”
Arriving on the farm, I could never have dreamed of the impact it would have upon me. Having recently graduated from university and wandered down many potential career paths, I found myself aching for something bigger, with more of a social impact. I believe volunteering has provided me with more fulfillment and sense of purpose than a job could give me. Contributing to such a wonderful community has been amazing on an individual level. The four companions I have lived with for the past 10 months have become more than clients – they have become my friends. We spend our weekends together enjoying mutual hobbies (predominately coffee shop hopping). They have taught me more about myself in the last ten months than I have learned in the last 24 years of my life. They have opened up my heart, shown my weaknesses and forced me to work upon them. I am constantly learning and evolving, my patience being tested and theirs with me.
I hope that the impact has been mutual, and that when I leave I will have left some impression on the community. I have formed some life long friends, learned some valuable life lessons and developed some useful skills. When I eventually have to move on, it will be one of the hardest things to do, but the growth and purpose the farm has placed within me is something I will cherish forever.