You’re welcome to come and participate for a while! The possibilities are quite diverse and your visit can last from a few hours to several months. There’s always something to do at Boskanter.
Activities & Workshops
At activities and workshops it’s also usually possible to lend a hand (or two). Regarding activities this can be in the form of playing a supporting role, such as bartending, providing music, entertainment for the kids, or delicious, local, vegetarian meals or snacks. And if you feel like rolling up your sleeves and taking the lead we can definitely work together too. For example, you can become a teacher of one of our workshops, or if you have the aspiration of creating a new workshop or organising an activity, you can contact us about that as well.
A Day, A Week
Do you want to get a taste of what Boskanter is really about? You can come and help out with the proceedings of that particular day for a few hours, and afterwards take home some harvest (if there is any, of course 🙂 ).
Sometimes it will also be possible to stay multiple consecutive days or a week or two. But this depends on the long-term volunteers, and if they are able and willing to fulfil a leading role.
Is a day or a week not enough? You can stay here as a volunteer in exchange for bed and board for multiple months. Boskanter runs on and is partly run by volunteers. There is an endless variation of very different people coming here from every “corner” of the globe, and more often than not they’re great. That makes this a great place for learning and practicing diverse languages and exploring unknown cultures. It creates a dynamic atmosphere with lots of energy. Sometimes this can lead to a bit of friction, but we usually manage to massage out the knots together, turning it into a great learning experience.
We are signed up as host for volunteers on helpx, workaway and WWOOF. We can host up to four long-term volunteers at a time. They stay at least half a year, but preferably closer to one year. Of course there is first a mutual trial period, which has a flexible duration. It’s also possible for long-term volunteers to come frequently for shorter periods.
Much more below on volunteering at Boskanter.
Long-term volunteers meet with the owners once per week for long-term planning and translating the long-term objectives into short-term tasks. These short-term tasks are then discussed and distributes among all the volunteers during the morning meeting. Volunteers are relatively free to determine at what hours they work and there's room for initiatives. Although we may at times ask for a hand or organise specific tasks at a certain time, such as processing hay or harvesting. To make sure that everything progresses as planned and make this flexibility possible, everybody is expected every morning from Monday until Friday at 8h00 for the morning meeting.
Self-sufficient living is not a structured nine-to-five job. It’s not always easy to draw a line between ‘housekeeping’ and work. We aim at five hours of 'real work’ per day and a free weekend. And outside of these hours there are, of course, the daily chores to deal with, such as: cooking, doing dishes, cleaning and sweeping, emptying the compost toilets, etc.
- The bulk of the daily work consists of:
- maintaining the forest (e.g.: remove brambles, move firewood)
- gardening (e.g.: weeding, mulching, planting, scything)
- aiding in running projects (e.g.: building or plastering walls with cob)
And depending on where your interest lie and when you are here, there may be opportunities to get involved with and learn about:
- any of the long-term areas described below, though in a support-role to the responsible long-term volunteer(s)
- preserving food (e.g.: pickling, fermenting, drying)
- taking care of animals
- handicrafts (e.g.: wood and stone engraving, woodworking, spinning wool, leather crafting; basket weaving
- natural construction methods and finishes
- building rocket stoves or mass heaters
- and plenty of other things!
Long-term volunteers carry much of the responsibility for the day-to-day running of Boskanter. Below the main areas are described that can be taken up by long-term volunteers. How many long-term volunteers can share one area of responsibility and how many areas of responsibility one volunteer can carry depends on the areas, the volunteers and the overall situation. All areas are subject to at least some supervision by the owners to make sure things happen within the margins of intention.
Want to be the voice of Boskanter towards potential short-term volunteers, separate wheat from chaff, and show new blood the ins and outs of Boskanter life? If so, then you could take on the responsibility of volunteer management. You would play host to short-term volunteers, which includes everything from communicating with potentials, giving those who make it through our traumatising selection process (joke) a warm welcome and showing them around, to organising beds and rooms, food, and work.
Want to try your hands at running a food-producing garden? Some non-optional guidance and instructions will be given, but you’ll still have lots of freedom and room for experimentation. And since we’re not very dependant on the garden for our sustenance, failure doesn’t directly mean starvation. Though, of course, you should act as though your life was on the line and give it your very best! 🙂
Basically, you would manage the garden for at least one production season. That means formulating a plan for the garden within the limits of our instructions, and then executing that plan: seeding, raising seedlings, planting, watering, mulching, weeding, etcetera. Not that we expect you to do this all by yourself. As responsible person you’re also in charge of delegating tasks and instructing other volunteers on what to do to maintain the garden.
You don’t have to be a permaculture expert. But a healthy dose of motivation to find the answers to your own questions is required. Since we won’t always be present or capable to answer them for you.
Ever wanted to say “Oh, you like the bread? I made it.”? If baking the weekly bread becomes your responsibility, you’ll have plenty of practice material with tens of kilograms of dough baked into tasty (hopefully), hearth-baked, sourdough loaves each Monday. And you’ll learn how to fire and stoke the oven, manage our little bakery, and clean it too (hurray!).
But, since this job likely requires a significant pretraining and therefore time-investment from our side, it’s only suitable for those who would take it for at least close to a year.
Arts & Crafts
A fun way to bring in some money is by crafting and selling handmade products. The possibilities for such items are endless, but some examples are: spoons, toys, jewellery, pottery or baskets. Materials and tools to materialise and shape your imaginings are present.
There are certain crafting skills we can teach you, and others you could explore yourself. But because it often requires some weeks or months to really develop such skills, this path is only open to those who plan on staying a year. Though, if you already posses the necessary skills, it is discussable.
And then there is the sales side of things: going to markets and using online platforms to sell the items that have been made. While those who make the items carry at least some of the responsibility of making sure they “find a new home”, the task of selling them itself can also be performed by others.
If our two little girls like you, and you can continuously muster the restraint to not duct-tape them to the ceiling, then this could be a good opportunity to learn more about home- and unschooling, see more of Belgium, and learn some Dutch.
As part of their upbringing and education we would like you to try to engage them in “Boskanter-esque activities” appropriate for their abilities, for example help them make something out of wood; take them on excursions to both nearby and farther away destinations, of course preferably educational; sing, dance or create other kinds of performances together; and when they show interest in learning something it will be your job to facilitate this learning and turn them into super geniuses!... Well, perhaps not super geniuses, but at least try to show them that learning can be fun.