From One-Stop-Shop to Homesteading Hub November 24, 2015 08:52
Vancouver’s urban homesteading and self-sufficiency hub just got a renewed mandate. Signalling an increased focus on its role in skill sharing, education and collaboration, the three-and-a half year old outfit has reinvented itself as Homestead Junction. Though ownership and other aspects of the organization remain the same, they are dropping their former moniker, Homesteader’s Emporium, for a more collaborative vision.
Havlak founded the store in 2012 to improve local access to supplies for a wide range of food and lifestyle-related do-it-yourself projects. It quickly became clear that being able to purchase equipment locally was only one of many barriers people face to making consumables from scratch. “We’ve realized the products we sell are only a small part of what people come for,” remarks founder-owner-operator Rick Havlak. Otherwise, he continues, neighbours and customers are drawn to the support they receive for learning fun and useful skills, ranging from beekeeping to cheesemaking, fermenting, soap making, and more. “More and more people want to learn, and more people have skills they want to share,” he adds. With a renewed commitment to collaboration, Havlak hopes to support other teachers not on the company payroll - as well as find novel ways to help DIYers share space and materials. He hints that the next year holds an expansion to the company’s already considerable rental equipment library.
The team at Homestead Junction is bringing groups together in their retail offerings. Havlak says, “being focused on DIY, we don’t sell a lot of consumer products, but we’re finding ways to connect our colleagues with product collaborations.” Havlak’s favourite is a custom soap that arose from linking rural farmers to a local soap maker. Sam and Emily of Two Roads Farm (Denman Island, BC) wrote, “Homesteader’s helps us use and make a living from every part of our pigs, building the urban-rural connections that are vital to small farm survival and sustainable and ethical animal husbandry.” Soap maker Kate Duda of Plenty and Spare Naturals adds, “once you explain the idea behind [local fat soaps] people get behind it, they get you’re not shipping in foreign ingredients, you’re not cutting down rainforests… The farmers aren’t raising animals to make soap... they’re raising animals for food, and then you’re respectfully using what might go to waste.”
The team at Homestead Junction plans to continue expanding their relationships with local doers, farmers, artisans, teachers, and students. “It has been so neat for us to partner with [Homestead Junction] that equips people with tools and knowledge and to see their generous spirit equipping us as well,” says Briarpatch garden coordinator Rebecca Dahl. “While we’re able to offer them an outdoor space for workshops, [the Junction] has supported us by sharing the knowledge, as well an incredible amount of donated supplies.”
“An emporium is just a store,” Havlak muses, “and we love our store but it’s not really the main thing we’re about.” Homestead Junction reflects the cultural shifts within the ever-growing homestead movement - valuing the sharing of skills, equipment, space, community and cultural knowledge to move towards a world that acknowledges environmental, social and economic sustainability are interconnected.
The official transition to Homestead Junction is set for Saturday, November 28 during their Winter Craft Market from 12:00-4:00PM. In keeping with their new collaborative approach, Homestead Junction will host local makers to showcase their wares alongside the company’s usual offerings.