Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
BY MARGARET HOEGG
“Live a little more slowly, produce healthy food, and produce healthy humans.” These are words to live by for Dr. Peter West. Five years ago, Dr. West was working overtime at the Saint John Hospital in New Brunswick, dividing his time between the intensive care and medical teaching units. It was intense, and he periodically suffered burnout.
Things changed suddenly for his family when their farmer left the area. Secure access to healthy, fresh food had become even more important with two young children to consider. “We had been really interested in food before we came down,” said Dr. West. “I had worked in the obesity clinic in Saint John and so I had an interest in food that would make people healthy.”
Then a friend sent them a link to the perfect house on a fertile drumlin in Lunenburg County. “It’s close to the ocean, close to Halifax, and then we discovered ... how amazing this part of Nova Scotia is,” said Dr. West. “So yeah, we just totally lucked into it really.”
He easily got a job at the hospital in Bridgewater - just 15 km from their new home. “The work environment here is lovely,” he said. “Once you get out of the city and into communities....all of a sudden if there’s not that power disparity, there is a more collegial relationship.”
He now works part time as an ER Doctor and homesteads with his wife and three children. They grow vegetables and fruit, raise livestock, preserve what they can, and buy the rest from the many local farms and food producers along the South Shore.
“We had a loose idea of, ‘we want to start growing our own food and work a little bit less,’ but it sort of progressed,” said Dr. West. He sees his work as a Doctor and on his homestead as connected, just at opposite ends of the spectrum. “What I’m
trying to do here is to grow healthy children,” he said. “When children grow up in this type of environment, eating healthy food, they will be healthy.”
In his work, he spends much of his time treating preventable illnesses - obesity, diabetes, and a multitude of other conditions. He sees preventative health care as the key to a better healthcare system.
As a health care professional and parent, he leads by example. He hopes that by demonstrating the benefits of biking or walking to work, growing your own food, and finding life work balance, he can make a positive impact. He is encouraged
by the growing community of like-minded people in Lunenburg County.
“There seems to be this migration of young families here,” said Dr. West. “And the reason that they’re here is the same reason we’re here. They’re interested in getting out of cities and growing food and living healthily and being part of the
communities that humans are really kind of supposed to grow up in.”