ANTIGONISH, N.S. — Education in the great outdoors will be highlighted as Riley and Gabe Chisholm welcome visitors to their 17-acre Antigonish County property on Saturday, Nov. 23.
They're holding the grand opening of Antigonish Forest and Farm School, a community land-based education centre, located at 576 Ohio East Rd. in Ohio.
Everyone is invited to drop by between 2-4 p.m.
"It is a living project,” Riley said of the initiative.
The couple's initial goal — one that remains on the radar — was to create a school offering full-time student classes from Monday to Friday.
“The reality is that we haven’t been able to secure the resources to pay for a teacher to do that,” Riley added.
Although the dream may eventually become reality, with increased funding or the generosity of a benefactor, she noted the focus at this point is creating “more of a community centre that focuses on health and education.”
“With the open house, we want people to come out and see what we have to offer,” Riley said.
One of the latest additions to the outdoor learning space — the main feature — is a traditional Mongolian yurt, which is fashioned with linden wood, camel sinew and horse-hair ropes.
“It has a light footprint,” she noted.
Riley said a “whole crew” of volunteers pitched in to erect the yurt over the past couple weeks.
“We have a few more things to do,” she added, noting stairs and a deck will also be constructed.
Riley said the volunteer help is an example of how the community has “really stepped up” for the initiative.
“We have received tremendous support,” she added.
She said the school can serve as a “gathering place” for classes, retreats and other functions for all ages.
“It will be a great way for us to grow the connection to our community,” Riley said.
She expects local schools and St. F.X. will be able to access the location for outdoor education classes.
“There are so many possibilities,” Riley said.
For users of the education centre, there will be no fee.
“We want as many people as possible using the space,” she added.
There is one request of users; if someone if offering a yoga class, for example, they are asked to offer a couple free spots for community members.
“It will be a gesture of in-kind sharing,” Riley explained.
For bookings, call 902-318-2742 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the Acadian Forest and Farm School initiative, visit its Facebook page of the same name.