Small hold farms, or homesteading, is becoming a way of life for more families in West Nipissing as people move into the area to build their dreams, creating their own home based business, establishing ties in the community with others of like mind. They intentionally live a life tied to nature, the local food supply, and a creative connection with the land. Such is Aimée Jeannise Hodgins and her partner Dan Weiler, who have established themselves as homestead farmers in Field, close to Muskosung Lake.
Aimée has recently launched Restless Ravens, a homestead and herbal apothecary seasonal subscription box. Each season brings a new box loaded with items from beeswax candles to herbal teas, salves, lotions, soaps, whatever is seasonal, and billed as local, homegrown, wild crafted, handmade, foraged and sustainable. Depending on the time of year, spring or fall equinox or summer and winter solstice, the subscriber will get several items: elixirs, seeds, smudges, jewellery, garden goodies, foraged wild edibles – it all sounds kind of witchy and magical, and it’s turning out to be a real enterprise for Aimée. She’s another creative soul who has found ways of marketing her products online because – you guessed – COVID.
“We moved up here 3 years ago and down south there were a lot more avenues for markets. I would do 3 markets a week, farmer’s markets, flea markets and craft shows. There’s not as much here but I was doing the evening market in Sturgeon [at Minnehaha Bay] and Maker’s North, but all that has disappeared because of COVID. There was the farmer’s market going on at Kate’s [Kountry Kitchen] but there are so many rules, people can’t touch anything, and with my products people like to pick up my jewellery and feel it… you can’t talk to customers long, and I like to talk to people so they have a connection. I make (unusual items), like jewellery from dead things. ‘Oh it’s a real butterfly!’ Then they tell me a story about their grandma and butterflies. I couldn’t see myself selling in a way that was not interactive. I still do my jewelry but more custom orders and am now concentrating on items from our homestead …I’m really doing more with the herbs – and now my boxes.”
Aimée sells online now, but still keeps it as interactive as she can – establishing connections with her clients. Her boxes have written instructions on everything enclosed, “A bit of education so people can get inspired and go out and forage, find things and incorporate plants into their everyday lives.”