Our Story

Hello, we are Michelle and Calvin.

We had always loved living in cities, but several years ago we began to feel a pull to live differently. So, we moved to rural Nova Scotia to build a life of creative learning and making, and of connecting with the land and seasons. As Vibrant Acres has evolved, we have found ourselves excited to create in this area where nature and artistry meet. 

Balcony garden, potted plants, and our little cat
Our little balcony garden, nestled in the trees.

From a downtown balcony to country gardens

Several years ago, we began to feel unsettled by the dependencies we could see in dense city life and felt the need to make a change. In spring of 2019, we moved from the heart of Montreal where we had a small balcony garden to rural Nova Scotia. Rather than seeing it as a move away from something, we prefer to see it as a move towards something else. Something that perhaps aligns better with our values and how we want to live.

We have spent much of the past years crash-learning country life, old house care, and land care. We have become much more resilient and have had to learn so many skills related to just about every area of our lives including rural living and homesteading, house repairs (building things!), gardening & farming, living and eating more seasonally, as well as textiles & natural dyes. We have never learned so much in such a short period of time, or felt so continually out of our comfort zone. It has been a constant challenge to our creativity and grit, but it’s been deeply rewarding, too.

Living seasonally

Bundles of dried garlic with multi-coloured straw flowers
Dried garlic and flowers ready to hang in our pantry for winter.

A major motivation for our move was to live a more engaged creative life. We have been working to teach ourselves to focus on being and doing rather than on having (this is an amazingly difficult thing to unlearn). We have also been learning to grow and preserve our own foods, finding our favourites, and slowly scaling up how much we can grow and store. 

Living more seasonally has been a joy – we find that our years follow a more distinct flow. We now spend the majority of our time outdoors during the growing season and most of our winters indoors with the wood stove running, creating new things and planning for the season ahead. We are eating more in keeping with what we can grow or is available locally (this means eating endless cucumbers in summer and then none in winter), and have found that, rather than feeling like we’re missing out on something, it makes each season more special and augments the richness of each season.

We have enjoyed engaging with other artists and artisans within the community, hearing about their projects and ideas, and seeing the beautiful things they create with our natural dyes. We have found that we have a shared thirst for creative exploration, curiosity, and love of colour. 

Learn more about how we create colour >

Watering a young crop during a dry spell.

Michelle Darwin leaning against a car with market-ready cut flowers

About Michelle

Michelle enjoys encouraging the gardens and woods back to abundant health. She’s always on the lookout for new spots to plant trees or create garden beds. She grew up hearing stories of her grandmother’s life as part of a family of fishermen near Ostrea Lake, and of her father’s childhood living on naval bases near Halifax. She loves living along the coast and finds much inspiration for her paintings – you can find her work at www.paintedstories.co.

Calvin Schnurr at house door with armload of zucchini

About Calvin

Calvin has enjoyed designing and building much of the farm infrastructure and spending time working with his hands in the field and in the workshop. He has a soft spot for mushrooms and has been caught scheming ways to incorporate them into the gardens.