Eye-opening experience: The smiles on these Atlantic Canadian homesteaders’ faces are not just from saving money

When a storm is on the horizon, there’s no need for Glenda and Alan Mulholland to panic.

They don’t need to navigate the crowded grocery stores to hoard all that imported food quickly disappearing off the shelves

Instead, when the power goes out, the Mulhollands have the vegetables and meat they raised, the food they preserved from months before and the supplies and skills to be self-sufficient while saving money.

Their passion for homesteading started in 1998, when the Mulhollands lived in British Columbia and decided to build a cabin in the woods to save money.

“We planted some fruit trees and grew vegetables on 25 acres,” said Glenda, who, with Alan and the help of their friends, is currently building a five-acre homestead that overlooks Grand River in PEI

“We returned to suburban life after homesteading in BC, but realized that the city life was not for us and it felt almost sterile. However, being a homesteader is a lifestyle. It is not just to save money, but to have better food, know where and how it is grown, free from pesticides and chemicals, including the priceless satisfaction we feel at the end of the day.”

Glenda Mulholland is growing broccoli, among other vegetables and fruit, and raising chickens for eggs and meat while saving money from the soaring inflation of grocery store items.  - Contributed photo
Glenda Mulholland is growing broccoli, among other vegetables and fruit, and raising chickens for eggs and meat while saving money from the soaring inflation of grocery store items. – Contributed photo

The couple — Alan, with a carpentry background, and Glenda, with her green fingers — live frugally, recycle, reuse and have a grasp of freedom, knowing that whatever is purchased pays for itself in the long run during a time when the world reels with inflation.

“When we bought the land, it was a hay field,” Mulholland continued. “So, we’re letting a big part of the area grow wild, including planting trees that will eventually mature and make a nice wildlife corridor.”

She added that they have saved money by using their skills and building the homestead without contractors.

The couple raises chickens for food and eggs, grows a vegetable and fruit garden, then ferments, dries, cans and stores food for winter.

“If you have some cold storage, you can keep things like root vegetables and apples for quite a long time,” she noted. “If you have an electric heater or solar dehydrator, you can dehydrate many different things too. I do a lot of food canning with a pressure canner, using mostly tomato-based things.

“You can preserve many food items in season and then consume them throughout the winter. Peas, for instance, can be dried and saved for whenever you need them. In addition, seeds that are not hybrid (crossing two different varieties) can’t recycle.”

The Mulhollands are not the only ones who have anchored their lives in homesteading during a time of economic uncertainty.

Vanessa Junkin and William McKeiver built a barn in Bridgewater, NS by hand for their alpacas, while saving on materials that would otherwise end in landfills.  Contributed photo - Contributed photo
Vanessa Junkin and William McKeiver built a barn in Bridgewater, NS by hand for their alpacas, while saving on materials that would otherwise end in landfills. Contributed photo – Contributed photo

Not so much about saving money

Tikvah Mindorff, a bookkeeper by trade, and Tyler Simpson, who has a carpentry background, took baby steps last year, moving from Gananoque, Ont. to New Germany, NS to live sustainably and off-grid on 20 acres.

The couple, who turned a Christmas tree lot into Duskwood Farm — with plans to build an off-grid butcher shop, say homesteading is not so much about saving money, but rather living within your means and avoiding spending.

“It’s been a fundamental change in our attitude towards money and work,” said Mindorff. “I started very simply by using apps like Emma to track my monthly spending. This was eye-opening to how much money I spent on unimportant things that didn’t contribute to our larger financial position.


“We are rich in what matters. We have this beautiful land, love and health for which we are in constant appreciation.”

– Tikvah Mindorff


“Our major priorities have shifted now. My biggest priority in saving money is keeping a strict budget and paying ourselves first. Aside from necessities like insurance, vehicle fuel for commuting to work and food, we prioritize putting money aside for retirement and making incremental changes to our property to make our lives more comfortable.”

The couple drives a 15-year-old car, cooks all their meals at home and rarely buys new clothing.

“For recreation, we enjoy the outdoors, and Nova Scotia has so much to offer us between fishing, hiking, paddling or sandy oceanside beaches,” she continued. “So, while marketing is telling us to spend, I would not trade our frugality and financial security for any of it. Besides, we are rich in what matters. We have this beautiful land, love and health for which we are in constant appreciation.”

Vanessa Junkin and William McKeiver breathed new life into wood collected from dumpsters and tossed on suburban curbs, transforming the scraps into a beautiful barn for their animals in Bridgewater, NS.  Contributed photo - Contributed photo
Vanessa Junkin and William McKeiver breathed new life into wood collected from dumpsters and tossed on suburban curbs, transforming the scraps into a beautiful barn for their animals in Bridgewater, NS. Contributed photo – Contributed photo

A leap of faith

Regarding saving money, homesteaders Vanessa Junkin and William McKeiver, are part of a Loop Resource program available across the Atlantic provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador.

The program connects local grocery stores with small-scale farmers, homesteaders and registered charities (where possible), providing them with non-resaleable food.

“We fell into this amazing program last year, which helps close the loop on organics waste disposal in the food supply industry, taking food from the end of the line at the store back to the beginning as feed and compost at local farms,” he explained Junkin.

“The bottom line is that we were able to cut back on animal feed because the cost is skyrocketing like everything else. The program is economical in diverting food from landfills and we can get ahead financially and pass those savings on to our customers. So, I raise farm chickens that produce free-range eggs that have no antibiotics, including ducks, and alpacas.”


“Our lifestyle has changed for the better since moving and, for the first time, we feel connected, not just to the land, but the people.”


Junkin and McKeiver operate the Honeywwoofer Homestead, affectionately named after their honeymoon experience of “WWOOFing” (an organization for Worldwide Opportunities on Farms), where they practiced farming before striking out on their own.

“We realized the suburban lifestyle in Ontario was not for us. So, we took a leap of faith in 2020, and left good jobs and moved to Bridgewater, Nova Scotia to build the Honeywwoofer Homestead,” said Junkin.

The couple got their feet wet in this lifestyle because they wanted to return to their roots and be self-sufficient, like their grandparents did, amid economic uncertainty.

“It was a shift in ideology. Grandma survived the Great Depression because she knew how to do stuff, live off the land and connect with new people. So, we are getting back to basics.”

The couple said it has been “a trial and error” experience but they look back with “no regrets.”

They built their homestead cost-effectively by salvaging materials that may have ended up in landfills, are learning to preserve food for winter and offer volunteer opportunities working their land for those interested in the homestead lifestyle, with a nod to their honeymoon experience.

“We felt a disconnect when living in Ontario,” said Junkin. “Life was all about work. Our friendships felt shallow and were built on work. But our lifestyle has changed for the better since moving and, for the first time, we feel connected, not just to the land, but the people.”

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