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Norman McIntyre is a volunteer with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program at Ravenheart Farms near Kamsack.

A Scot hopes to start of a new life in area after WWOOFing at Kamsack area farm


            A Scot, who had been considering immigrating to Canada for a few years, decided to have a look at the country while volunteering as a WWOOFer, which brought him to Ravenheart Farms near Kamsack.

            Norman McIntyre, who claims to be a foreign language expert and former ESL (English as a second language) teacher, volunteered as a volunteer with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program in Canada.

The WWOOF program allows people of all ages to volunteer on a farm in order to gain experience of organic farming, McIntyre said. It also offers the opportunity to many people to learn the language, culture and people of the host country in which they are volunteering.

There are WWOOFing programs in many different countries all over the world, he said. Workers are not paid; they receive board and lodging for normally around 30 hours of volunteer work per week.

When McIntyre came to Kamsack to volunteer at Ravenheart Farms, he said he had already fallen in love with Saskatchewan: the people, the countryside and the wide-open skies.

“I had planned to stay five weeks in Canada, then come back later in the autumn to seriously start looking for employment,” he said.

His cousin, who had immigrated to Alberta 15 years ago, agreed with him that it would be better to stay longer and search from here.

“I didn’t need more convincing. It felt great to stay on in Canada and start researching employment opportunities from here.”

After visiting friends in Wynyard and family in Alberta, McIntyre landed in Kamsack where he volunteers and in between volunteering jobs he heads off to visit either a prospective future employer for an interview or takes a break in order to research the labour market.

McIntyre’s daily routine at Ravenheart usually starts with getting the animals at the farm fed.

The horses are first, then the cats, he said. The dogs get theirs later.

Before that, there are water troughs to be topped up and the barn and fields to be cleared of manure, which is put on the compost pile.

There is always a variety of work and tasks to be done either on the farm or in the farmhouse, he said. Walking trails for the horses are also an on-going task, as well as fencing and general upkeep of the yard and grounds.

There are no harvests to be taken in at Ravenheart as crops aren’t grown here, but the food at the farm is almost exclusively organic and there is also a small organic garden to be tended to.

“I haven’t eaten so much healthy food for such an extended period of time,” he said. “I notice the difference physically.”

Although he says he enjoys the volunteering experience tremendously, it is the means to the end of permanently settling in Saskatchewan, which he terms as a “beautiful province.”

McIntyre was raised on a fruit farm in north-central Scotland and was last employed as an ESL teacher in Europe. In addition to this he has a good knowledge of eight foreign languages, holding a master of arts degree in Japanese and a bachelor of arts degree in Chinese. He has experience as a delivery driver and has customer service skills, after having being employed in the airline industry in Europe for 15 years.

“I have seen many places all over the world,” he said. “I have lived short-term in Japan and mainland China and long-term in Germany, where I obtained my university degrees.

“I even did some freelance writing in China and Japan,” he said. “During my travels I visited Canada several times.

“Now, I want to put down roots and settle here, preferably in Saskatchewan,” he said. “It would be great to land a permanent position of employment in the Kamsack area, but I am open to relocating to any part of Saskatchewan if necessary.

“If I had to move to another province, I would plan to return as soon as possible. I feel at home in Saskatchewan.”

McIntyre has no end of praise for the kindness of the Saskatchewan people.

“I often feel I am surrounded here by many kindred souls.”

Once, when he broke down in a truck on the way to Yorkton, he said that many people slowed down and stopped to ask if he needed any help and one couple even lent him their cell phone to make an important call home to the farm.

Despite his academic background, McIntyre said he wants to get back to his farm roots by looking for employment in a rural, agricultural area, ideally in customer service, deliveries or farming.

“Or maybe even a combination of all three. I am always open to learning new skills.”

Through the WWOOF volunteer program, he says he is gaining valuable experience of farm life, which he hopes could also help find a permanent job on a farm.

“Preferably with livestock. I love animals, especially horses, and enjoy working with them.

“I am a Reiki healer and also give healing to the horses here at Ravenheart.”

After reading a recent article by Murray Mandryk in the Kamsack Times concerning foreign workers in the province, he said he is hopeful that he will soon be able to find a full-time, permanent position before his visitor’s visa expires in November.

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