Volunteer agreement

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Welcome to EcoReality!

CoViD-19 Update

  • You must follow the requirements of public health authorities at all times. This includes the use of masks, social distancing, avoiding non-essential travel, etc.
  • Depending on where you are coming from, you may be required to self-quarantine for two weeks. This means staying in your room and working away from others.

General Info

  • We do our best to be very open and friendly, please make yourself at home and don't be afraid to ask where anything is.
  • The farm is owned as a co-op. You can find out more at www.EcoReality.org.
  • The address is: 2152/2172 Fulford-Ganges Road, V8K 1Z7, 250.653.2024 (How to get to EcoReality). (map) (email).


  • We are 3.5 kilometres from the Fulford Harbour ferry, 10 km from Ganges, 18 km from Vesuvius ferry, and 16 km from Long Harbour ferry.
  • Hitchhiking is safe and common on the island and most folks can get where they need to go with their thumb and some patience.
  • There is local bus service, synchronized with the Fulford Harbour ferry, that stops at the end of the driveway. Be sure to wait for the bus in a location that is safe for it to pull over.
  • We have a page with detailed directions on how to get to EcoReality.


  • The phone number here is 250-653-2024.
  • There is one phone in the house. It is for business purposes, but may be used in an emergency or in special circumstances. Please do not give out this number to your friends and family to contact you, except in an emergency.
  • Incoming calls take priority! The phone service has "call waiting." If you hear beeps while on a call, switch to the new call by quickly depressing the hang-up switch, then either take a message, or quickly end your call so the other call can be taken.
  • Some cell phones work well here (Rodgers), others (Telus) just barely or not at all. (All cell phone service eventually goes through one of these two, regardless of who is reselling their bandwidth to you. Ask your cell phone service provider which of Rodgers or Telus they use.)
  • We have an open WiFi, over which you can use Skype, iChat, or other voice-over-IP (VOIP) Internet telephone software. Please avoid heavy streaming use (such as music or video), as it slows everyone down! This is a business Internet connection, and WiFi can be suspended if it is interfering with EcoReality business use.
  • Downloading of copyright material without the copyright holder's permission is not tolerated, and your use of our Internet connection will be permanently terminated. Your abuse of copyright can be determined from our router logs.


  • The items in the various buildings are owned by residents. Please be respectful and careful of the use of items in the houses.
  • Please use coasters under liquid drinks.
  • We have a lot of cool things here, tools, instruments, vehicles, gardens, more. Feel free to look and explore. Please ask before using something and feel free to offer suggestions and/or advice on anything you see.
  • Please ask before playing the instruments you see, they are very fragile and loved items. We love there to be music in the house, but some instruments may have special instructions or require special treatment.
  • Do not use any tools -- especially power tools -- without asking permission and getting training on safety and proper use.
  • When you use anything -- a tool, book, movie, kitchen stuff, etc. put it back where you found it when you're done, in the condition you found it. Notify the item's steward or any resident if an item requires care or maintenance. If you are not sure where it goes, ask!
  • We have an extensive 1,200 volume library, organized by Dewey Decimal System, on diverse topics from Agriculture to Zoology. Feel free to browse, but please put books back where you find them. If it is not clear from the spine label where a book should go, ask someone for help. If you want to use a book for more than a short time, please log the book in the sign-out sheet at the end of the shelving.


  • There may be a few "sleeping rooms" that will change from time to time. All are on a first-come, first-served basis, and may be subject to having same-sex roommates on short notice.
  • There are foam pads and a couch for overflow sleeping.
  • Tenting space is available -- please check with us before setting up. Tenters will want to bring their own sleeping pad. If you cannot supply your own sleeping bag, make sure we know in advance.
  • "Quiet hours" are from 10 PM to 7 AM. Please refrain from loud music, television, or conversation during these hours, unless you have consulted every single person in the house, or they all are awake and being loud as well, such as a party. (And even in those cases, don't get so loud as to disturb the neighbors!) Please do not monopolize shared space outside of quiet hours.
  • Please keep your belongings in your sleeping area to avoid clutter in common areas.
  • We'd like you to bring your own sleeping bag and pillow, to make it easier for us to deal with sheets and such. If you need bedding, please let Jan know in advance and ask about the procedure.
  • We are a shoes free house (see high horse for further explanation) -- or indoor slippers/sandals -- even if we forget that ourselves sometimes, please help us in keeping the floors clean. We have guest slippers if you didn't bring any.


  • There are three washrooms in the yellow house; the one on the main floor, next to the kitchen, is for everyone -- please help keep it clean.
    • The one on the upper floor is primarily for those who live up there, who are responsible for keeping it clean.
    • The one downstairs is mainly for those who live down there, who are responsible for keeping it clean.
    • The main floor washroom is for general use, but that can mean people don't take proper care of it. If you will be using this washroom regularly, sign up on the care schedule to help take care of it. If you only use it occassionally, please clean up after yourself and make sure it is as clean or cleaner than you found it.
    • (If you're desperate, you can use any of them.)
  • There are towels in the closet in the main floor bathroom for guests. If you don't have one, please ask which ones are for guests. If you are going to use it more than once, please hang it on a hook on the back of the bathroom door or on the towel bar. When you are done with it, please drape it over the white basket in the laundry room if it is still wet, otherwise, put it in the same basket.
  • In an effort to save water, please don't flush pee. To return borrowed nutrients to the earth, feel free to pee outside, or ask about using our collection system for plant fertigation.
  • Please ask about the laundry, we try to maximize loads.
  • Do not use the clothes dryer unless it is raining. There are clotheslines to the south of the house. Clothes will dry on the line even if it is cloudy!

Food and Kitchen

  • We are a vegetarian household: do not cook or store meat in the house. If for some special reason, you need to store or prepare meat, please discuss it with us first.
  • We don't do well by strict vegans, as we have our own eggs, milk, and honey to deal with.
  • Please inform us in advance of any special dietary needs. If you don't, you'll either eat what we fix, or go hungry!
  • Snack items are in the island in the centre of the kitchen, and can be enjoyed at will. Please do not take any other food items without asking first -- they may be reserved for a future meal plan, or they may be inventory for market sales.
  • If you use some ingredient up, write it on the shopping list on the end of the cabinets. Likewise if you desire a particular ingredient for a meal you've signed up to cover.
  • Please ask before using anything in the kitchen. Some items have specific uses.
  • We do not waste food! Left-overs can be combined into new dishes.
  • There are four compost buckets in the kitchen:
    • The large rectangular beige one is for the goats, who appreciate broccoli stems, carrot tops, apple cores, banana peels, and other un-cooked vegetable cuttings. If in doubt, you can try hand-feeding the goats, and if they won't eat it, the chickens probably will. Cut all things in the goat bucket into goat-sized bites about 1" or so. Don't put anything mouldy in here, and if you see it is getting mouldy, it goes to chickens instead of goats.
    • The small white one with the lid is for the chickens. Please don't put onions, garlic, citrus, or anything with strong odors in this bucket. If you don't clean your plate, please scrape it into the chicken bucket.
    • The metal one under the sink is for everything else organic, including tea bags and emptying sink strainers. When it is full, please ask Jan which compost pile to empty it into.
    • After emptying any compost bucket, please rinse the bucket and pour the water onto the compost, removing as much of the contents as possible. When you return the bucket to the kitchen, please wash it to keep odors down.
  • If you harvest any food, from the garden or elsewhere, for any reason, please weigh it and record it. Ask if you don't know where to weigh and record. This is vital for tax purposes, and for making plans in the future.
    We don't want to discourage informal grazing. Anything under a handful for immediate personal consumption need not be weighed.
  • Before doing any cooking or cleaning up in the kitchen, please check with Jan or Cleome first and then refer to the page called in the kitchen, which has some specific information for kitchen use. This is also posted on the pantry in the kitchen.
  • We recycle just about everything; please help us to throw out as little garbage as possible. There is a sorting system, please ask where things go. If there is paper that can't be recycled, please put it in the bucket by the wood stove. If you are not sure about where something goes, it is OK to ask!
  • We prefer you use washable handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex, but if you do use Kleenex, please put it directly in the wood stove so others won't have to handle it.
  • It may be months before the waste can under the sink is emptied. Do not put any organic waste in the trash. Wash organic matter off non-recyclable waste so the waste can doesn't stink.
  • Please do not take any glassware outside. There are some plastic mugs and glasses for outdoors.
  • We normally expect volunteers and guests to take part in community meals. Please do not plan to bring your own food and/or cook for yourself without asking first.
  • Please do not get in the habit of taking meals to your room. Community meals are part of how we talk about farm issues and tasks — and how we maintain our relationships!


  • We may have various livestock here from time to time. Please leave gates in the state you find them, open or closed and ask what to do if you discover livestock where they don't seem to belong.
  • Much of the surrounding fields have electric fencing. As where the gates are, and how to use them.
  • Close or brace open all doors after use. An unexpected gust of wind can cause an expensive and time-consuming repair.
  • Please respect all tools and clean garden tools before putting them away after using at the end of the day. Tools left out in the rain rust. Please do not leave tools stuck in the ground overnight — put them away!
  • Please check in with us before walking on any of the neighbours' property.
  • Please do not smoke on the property. This does not mean dropping your butts at the end of the driveway! If you are seriously addicted, or have medical or religious need to smoke, please discuss this with residents to come to an appropriate arrangement.


  • Please get training from any resident before using a wood stove.
  • There is wood in the woodshed between the two houses.
  • There is a fire extinguisher between each woodstove and the nearest exit — please make sure you know where it is.
  • Please make sure the fire is under control. Please damp the fire down if you are leaving the room for any length of time.
  • Do not turn on baseboard heat without asking. We have extra blankets!
    • If you do need to use the baseboard heat, please turn it off when not in the room.
  • Please be sure outside doors are latched. A gust of wind can take an un-latched door right off — an expensive repair! They have been weather-stripped, and may require a good push to latch.


  • If you work at a work party or other organized volunteer activity for six hours per day, you receive a night's lodging and three meals in exchange for your work. (Please see also the volunteer FAQ.)
    • Non-working dependent minors are not included, and you should plan to contribute for their food.
    • Helping with meals and housekeeping is appreciated, but is not normally counted unless it is for the entire group, and is agreed beforehand.
    • Work is performed as specified by EcoReality staff — typically, the farm steward, or another steward if it is not farm work.
    • Some lodging-only situations may be available from time to time for three hours of labour per day.
    • All plant work is performed at the direction of the farm steward, Cleome, or someone she designates. Animal and construction work is at the direction of Jan Steinman. Other work may be at the direction of others who will be announced at meetings or group meals.
      • Work performed for arbitrary people who appear to be associated with the site does not count! If some stranger asks you do do something small, feel free to be helpful, but arbitrary people living here should not be asking you to do time-consuming work.
  • If you are not a working guest, we request a voluntary donation to help offset the cost of having you here.
    • We suggest a voluntary donation for overnight accommodations of $25/night indoors and $5/night camping.
    • We suggest voluntary donations for meals of $7 for breakfast, $9 for lunch, and $9 for dinner.
    • If you are coming with a family, talk to us in advance about the suggested donation amounts. In our experience, every family is different and we are open to communicating about your needs and our expenses.
    • This is truly a voluntary donation system. We appreciate whatever you can justify, afford, and joyously give, keeping in mind that B&B accommodations on Salt Spring go for about $150 a night and that your presence here has a cost to the co-op.
  • You are expected to have the legal right to be in Canada. Unless you have a work permit, permanent residence status, or Canadian citizenship, you generally cannot be in Canada for more than six months out of any twelve month period.
  • Although we have some extras, you are expected to have basic work clothing, including rain wear, footwear that can handle mud, durable clothing, and gloves. If specific tool use requires special safety gear, we will supply it while you use that tool.

Record keeping

  • You are expected to report your working hours and activities on forms that we will give you. This is not to make sure you are working a certain number of hours, rather, it is essential to our bookkeeping for numerous reasons:
    • We use it to estimate how long tasks will take in the future.
    • We use it to compare with past years, to assure we are becoming more efficient.
    • It demonstrates expertise and capability when we apply for grants or bid on contract work.
    • Accurate time-keeping is essential to know whether certain activities and projects are worth doing or not.
    • We count volunteer time as revenue in our accounting system, offset by housing and food expenses.
    • Members and funders also report their time, using the same system used by volunteers.
  • You are expected to follow other record-keeping conventions, such as harvest records, sales records, planting records, etc. You will be provided with forms for these activities as needed.

Criminal Records Check

  • You will be required to successfully complete an RCMP Criminal Records Check (CRC), at no expense to you.
    • We host international students, and a CRC is a requirement of that program.
    • A secure link will be provided for you to submit your identifying information to the RCMP, and School District 64 will receive the results directly from the RCMP.
    • You will be notified if there is a problem. Otherwise, you will have no access to the results.
    • Those who do not pass a CRC, or those who refuse to submit a CRC request, will be asked to leave immediately.


  • We will do our utmost to provide you the healthiest, safest possible work and play environment, but you acknowledge that you are a volunteer not an "employee," and that you are ultimately responsible for your own health and safety.
  • EcoReality co-op provides you with Worker's Compensation Board (WCB) coverage for hours you report.
  • If you are not a legal resident of British Columbia, you may not be covered by provincial health care, and should provide your own health insurance.

Please sign our guest book and add any comments about your stay before you leave. Doodles, sketches, poetry, etc. are all welcome in the guest book! Thank you, and we hope you enjoy your lovely stay with us!

I have read the EcoReality Volunteer FAQ and volunteer agreement, and agree to abide by them:

____________________________________________________________________ Printed Name

____________________________________________________________________ Signature

____________________________________________________________________ Date

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