Meet Fieldtripp Host with the Most – Rick Havlak
Rick, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m the owner, operator, and founder of Homestead Junction. My passion started when I was a kid, my family spent a lot of time in the woods and in the kitchen. Now I’ve been in Vancouver for ten years, and like most of our customers, I’m looking for balance in my life. I love the vibrancy of city life and being able to walk to the grocery store, but I also really value a connection to the land, to my food, to the source of products I use or consume on a daily basis. For me, DIY is a way of connecting to the world by learning deeply about where things come from.
What is Homestead Junction’s mission?
We offer accessible, quality supplies for self-sufficiency, especially those that would otherwise be difficult or inconvenient to find or source. We offer a continuum of learning options, creating consistently awesome introductory content while tapping into a network of specialists to help people take their skills to higher levels. We forge alliances with grassroots organizations that promote self-sufficiency and sustainability through education.
We’re also looking to bring self-sufficiency into the mainstream. We envision a world in which the way things are made is alive in the public’s consciousness. We see a greater connection between ourselves, our neighbours, and the products we consume, and from that connection a society of greater understanding, dialogue, and sustainability.
We don’t imagine that every family will have it’s own small farm, but we do imagine that every person will have a friend that is a farmer, and every child will grow up with a basic understanding of where food comes from. Let’s get there together!
Tell us about the types of workshops you host at Homestead Junction.
We’re into anything that enhances feeling more connected to the world, especially where being more thoughtful about consumer products is concerned. The workshops we run tend to focus on how to do something or make something practical, usually something you’ll eat, drink, or wear, something that’s ubiquitous but that most people buy ready made. We’ve got a team of instructional staff and also bring in 3rd party instructors all the time. Right now a lot of our offerings are around fermenting foods, working with fiber, and foraging.
One example is the bee school weekend intensive. Within the space of a few days, students were given a solid foundation in backyard and small-scale beekeeping. We designed the intensive with sustainability in mind, and to help hobbyists get started.
What do you love about teaching workshops?
I love being there for the “a-ha!” moments, and seeing people make connections that blow their minds! We run a simple program sometimes where we make butter, and it’s a great example because (and if you made butter, you can picture this) the cream at the last minute just breaks and suddenly you’ve got butter and buttermilk. A friend of mine summed it up when he said “Whoa! that’s where butter comes from?!”
How can being more self-sufficient help change the world?
Making something yourself or learning a new skill that makes you interact with it in a deeper way, that always teaches you something about how it connects with the world. It’s so easy in a modern city to consume without thought – more meat, more dairy, more clothes, more bath products.
But when you become partially self-sufficient for something, even in the relaxed urban sense (e.g. am I self-sufficient for bacon, because I buy pork and turn it into bacon?) you automatically learn a ton about it. This helps you understand the true value trade-offs when you do buy something, and maybe even exposes you to the social and environmental factors involved (e.g. if I’m going to go to the trouble of making this pork into bacon, I’m going to ask what sort of pig it came from, how it was raised, is it pumped full of antibiotics?).
A lot of the problems we have in the world stem from something being manufactured. Obviously it’s not practical for everyone to make everything all the time, but if we all learn a little bit about how a few things are made, I think as a society we’ll stop turning a blind eye to so many of the problems in the world.
What inspires you?
As someone who knows a little bit about a bunch of things, I’m inspired and impressed when I see someone go deep on a topic. A few times a year someone will come to an intro class I’m leading and just get stoked and run with it, reading everything they can get their hands on and just getting their hands dirty. Before long I am coming to them with questions. That’s what’s happened with our store beehives – the guy who mostly takes care of them attended Bee School at our shop, and now he’s our resident expert!