Natural Building/Living-Off-the-Grid Apprenticeship Positions now available

This was no April Fool’s Day joke: fresh snow!

On beautiful Lasqueti Island, become the person you’ve been longing to be.

Dave Olsen and ethical environmental consulting has been working for 22 years to recreate a lifestyle that enhances and promotes full health AND is easy and enjoyable.

We’ve been hosting Natural Building/Cob Workshops for the past 6 years.

Now we are excited to offer an apprenticeship program, in addition to our workshop lineup this summer!

Choose between a 9 or 13 week apprenticeship, both of which start on July 1st, 2012.

This is an apprenticeship that will help you grow skills that are difficult to grow anywhere else:

  • living off of the grid (electric, water, sewer, highway, consumer, etc)
  • building a truly sustainable lifestyle
  • turning work into play
  • accomplishing much with ease and joy

Living off of the Grid
You’ll use electric light that is fuelled by solar energy and possibly a small brook
You’ll cook with the sun and/or all parts of dead trees
You’ll use rainwater that is collected by gravity and heated by the sun or compost

Building a Truly Sustainable Lifestyle
You’ll garden with a year long perspective that works with the surrounding environment
You’ll build with the earth: rock foundations, cob walls, cedar shake roofs
You’ll harvest humanure
You’ll build a healthy body and mind by working at a pace that is comfortable and enjoyable

Turning Work into Play
You’ll dance when you could walk
You’ll ride when you could sit passively
You’ll sing when you could talk
You’ll be inspired all the day long

Accomplishing Much with Ease and Joy
You’ll be surprised at how fast the days go by when you’re out in clean, fresh air drinking crystal clean water and eating delicious home-cooked meals
You’ll enjoy our accomplishments because you aren’t overtired and stressed
You’ll realize that you can choose to do anything with joy and ease.

The fee for our 9 week apprenticeship that starts July 1st is $3,975

The fee for our 13 week apprenticeship that starts on July 1st is $4,975.

This fee covers daily facilitation/guidance, accommodation in a prospector’s tent on a wooden platform with a queen sized bed, a basic kitchen and an outhouse. All meals and snacks are included while you are staying with us.

If you are interested in applying for one of these positions, send an email to with the following information:

  1. Name and age
  2. contact information (email and phone)
  3. your previous experience and brief personal history
  4. why you are applying
  5. future plans after the apprenticeship
  6. two personal and/or work references with contact information

After this information is processed, Dave will call you by telephone. If we agree to start an apprenticeship relationship together, you’ll be asked to make a $2,000 deposit to hold your spot. Full payment is due before or when you arrive.

The first month is a trial period. If both parties are in agreement to continue, we will. If not, you will receive a refund less the $2,000 deposit. If you can not continue after the first month, please do not expect any refund.

Each week could vary, but the basic schedule is 5 full days from 8am to 6pm with a leisurely lunch and morning and afternoon snack breaks. The sixth day could be a half day if mutually agreed upon. Breakfast and dinner precede and follow every working day. Sharing meals is optional on the seventh day.

You are expected to self-motivate throughout. All lasting learning comes through experience and hands-on activity. Keeping a balanced approach to each day helps keep our stamina strong. By finding joy in everything we do, motivation flows effortlessly.

You will live part of the time with a young child and her small dog. Both are easy to get along with but have their own routines and needs. My daughter’s needs take priority over everything else but also rarely compete for time and space. Our relationship has been formally used to display parenting skills that are often not found in civilization so our hope is that you will benefit from that as well.

You will be an active part of the workshops that we will host this summer. Opportunities include instructing/leading small groups as well as being part of larger group projects. Benefits include meeting motivated and interesting participants and feasting on 3 meals and 2 snacks a day professionally prepared.

You will also interact with the Community, both through neighbours visiting and by attending Community Events. Nothing is compulsory.

We will feed ourselves mostly vegan/vegetarian fare, all organically grown. We will share this task accordingly, both in obtaining the food and cooking/presenting it. You will learn how to use the sun to cook and bake with Cob ovens used mostly as a backup for cloudy days.

Human silence is an important facet of our environment; there are millions of other species that fill the air but we humans will enjoy both silence, singing and anything in between. Listening skills are crucial.

How can building with Cob be easy?

We use a technique that has developed over the course of 6 years of workshops, primarily through the gifts of participants. I call it fast cob, or the 4 corner Korean noodle brick. We’ll have videos displaying the technique up on our website soon. We only use human power.

In essence, we let nature do most of the work, which allows us to build 4 to 8 times faster than the traditional Welsh technique brought to the West Coast of North America by Ianto Evans. Inevitably, strength is marginally compromised for the speed improvement, but the end result is a building strong enough to last for centuries with a good “hat and boots” (roof and foundation).

We will work on all phases of a building project: design, foundation, walls, plastering, natural painting, floors (heated and non), windows, doors, basic 12V wiring, simple plumbing, heating, cooling (natural fridge), and roofing. Every aspect will be using locally sourced and/or recycled/reused materials, which will be an integral part of the design process.

How can gardening/growing your own food be easy?
We garden with a year-round perspective and utilize natural systems in the garden rather than recreating them or fighting against them. We’ll also learn from professional full-time farmers/gardeners on the Island who have been growing successfully for decades.

We will also harvest wild foods where they still exist abundantly and try to relearn techniques for use that were lost when 90% of the indigenous population died within a generation (this is also called genocide).

The location is an inspiration in itself

Lasqueti Island is completely off-the-grid with no car ferry and unpaved roads. The community kept the 3rd wave of clearcutting mostly off the island and the result is a mature forest throughout.

The artistic community is diverse and deeply talented. The women’s community is strong and independent. A weekly Farmer Market brings many together to share food, music, and fun, as do many other festivals and events. The waters surrounding the island are clean and clear with swimming beaches within reach by bicycle.

The weather is usually dry and warm, sometimes hot, and always cool at night. Mosquitoes peak for a week and then are usually not noticed during the day. Horse/Deer flies will regularly visit for a bite but are easily thwarted.

Contact Us

If you are interested in this apprenticeship program for 2012, please contact us by:

phone: 604.216.6700
mail: 1 Beautiful Bicycle Lane, En-tay/Lasqueti Island, Sliammon Territory V0R 2J0

No matter where your chosen path takes you, we wish you a life filled with joy and wonder!

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