08/08/2013 04:34 EDT | Updated 10/08/2013 05:12 EDT

Living off the land: Homesteading catching on among many young Canadian families

POWELL RIVER, B.C. - A growing number of young Canadian families are making the choice to move away from the city to the country to set up homesteads, live off the land and prepare food using traditional methods.

Even though Victoria Gazeley grew up on the Sunshine Coast at least two hours from Vancouver, her family lived a suburban life with a small garden in the backyard.

"My mom and dad grew up on rural properties back in the '40s and '50s, and had that in their background but had in a way rejected it as most did," said Gazeley from her Roberts Creek homestead northwest of Vancouver.

After living in the Vancouver area for most of her adult life, Gazeley began feeling pulled to rural life, especially after having her son.

Like most modern homesteaders she was feeling it was increasingly important to become more self-reliant due to concerns about imported and genetically modified foods.

"As we've become more and more technology dependant there seems to be this zeitgeist of wanting to reconnect back to something a little simpler as things got crazier," she said.

Since moving in 2009 onto a family property, which included a reclaimed log cabin, Gazeley began the blog Modern Homesteading, which documents her experiences and connects with others who have gone rural.

In addition to harvesting wild edibles like blackberries and huckleberries, Gazeley has chickens, blueberries, and a small garden.

While some modern homesteaders have moved to smaller-scale properties, Adrienne Percy and her family took on a 130-hectare farm in Fraserwood, Man.

"I was starting to think maybe what we're doing isn't quite sustainable," said Percy. "We're seeing the fabric of a lot of rural communities unwind and what is being passed off as food these days is concerning.

"People seem to have lost what used to be considered basic essential skills and I really wanted something very different for my children."

According to Nourished Roots, the website for Percy's farm and the workshops they give, she and her husband "traded in fancy shoes and power lunches for galoshes and preserves years ago."

Percy had been working as a journalist when they made the decision to move to rural Manitoba.

She initially focused on giving her family a full life which included knowing how to grow, cook and preserve their food, but now she's working to help other aspiring homesteaders learn the skills they need for rural and urban living.

"From my experience and from what I'm hearing from my friends I think it's that feeling of being disconnected from really basic skills and a sense that there is another way to live," she said.

Earlier this summer Percy's property hosted the first Homesteaders Festival. The event sold out and more than 350 people came to participate in 27 workshops, which included beekeeping, raising goats, fermentation and blending your own herbal teas.

"People are sensing that being able to grow your own food and share it with others was at the centre of our communities and the fabric of our life," said Percy.

"Growing food and having these essential skills was about nourishment and survival but really it was an intimate part of our culture and heritage."