The west coast of North America is infamously known for their attention to detail when it comes to what they put into their bodies. Although, many of the people there aren’t exactly educated on the topics, the buzzwords of “gluten free”, “non-GMO”, “local”, and “cold-pressed” are trendy if nothing else. Spending the majority of my summer in the yoga-pants-by-day city of Vancouver, this couldn’t be more evident. But how many city slickers are bold enough to take their trend to the next level and make the full-fledged jump into a lifestyle that is actually sustainable, healthy and, frankly, a lot of hard work.
Well, this Broad is.
Leigh Hilary-Lee hails from Portland, and has lived in LA, Oklahoma City and Vancouver – she is an urban girl through and through! So, how does a renowned dancer and choreographer take her intrigue with healthy eating, step out of the fast paced hustle and bustle, and purchase a foreclosing property in rural British Columbia to start an organic farm?
I picked her brain (no pun intended) over a day of farm wandering at her family’s JJ Mills Organic Homestead, to find out how she pulled off such a transition with her husband and three young sons.
What was the tipping point that made you take the plunge when considering such a drastic life change?
When we decided to make an offer on our property [our youngest son] was only 3 months old and I was recovering from my hardest pregnancy, labour, and recovery to date. I was really not in the mindset to even think of such a task. However, Mike was so excited about it and the foreclosure of the property was such a steal that I had to put my trust in God, completely and whole-heartedly to give me peace during the entire process!
What were your biggest fears and obstacles?
My biggest fear in the beginning was not having the strength and endurance to take on such a big risk.
Have there been moments of discouragement where you wanted to throw in the towel? How do you push through those?
I’ve never wanted to give up, however, the biggest challenge is juggling a life of children, housework, farm work, and my passion for dance. My biggest reward is sleep and just taking care of myself. When those things slip, then I slip – it’s no good for anyone when this happens. (She says with a heartfelt laugh.) The mom of the house needs to be on her A-game!
What have you found the most rewarding?
The most rewarding part of building our farm and garden has been the lifestyle change for all of us. The community that we live in is a prized procession – the relationships built here! There’s a constant flow of traffic from friends and relatives, which is just an overwhelming abundance of love and support that we are so grateful for! As well, the produce that God has blessed us with has been such a treat – nothing more amazing than watching nature do its thing – the right way!
Why do you find it so important to promote local, organic eating? Do you feel this message is getting across enough these days, or do we still need more people to be educated on and practicing this lifestyle?
I think that we are in a huge food revolution that’s in its infancy. There’s a very small percentage of people in the western world that really get the magnitude of the damage the food industry has done in the past 50-70 years! We are all about educating as many friends and family members as we can so they can understand how vital it is to get on the “organic and local food” bus! I recommend watching documentaries such as OMG GMO, Food Matters, and Forks Over Knives. These give huge insight to the food industry and the disaster that our generation is facing. It is now our responsibility to make an effort to help fix it!
We chatted before about how you balance farm life with your creative passion, and I’ve now seen the beginning stages of the dance studio that’s being installed in the big red barn. Tell me, what’s the plan?
Yes! The barn studio!!! What’s better than to have a creative space in a haven like this? I feel more inspired in the past two years of living in Greendale, than ever before. I feel God’s called us here and why not make the most of it?
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