When a European duo came to stay at Thistle Farms this past summer and noted a family connection to the Belgium royal family, Dieter Dudy and Debbie Kellog didn’t think much of it.
They then received a Christmas card in the mail, with a photo of the king, queen, princesses and princes, signed by monarchy.
“I thought, ‘What the hell?’” said Dudy, who is a Kamloops councillor.
Dudy and Kellog have participated in a program called Farmstay since 2008. People come to stay at Thistle Farm in Westsyde for about a month at a time and receive room and board in exchange for about 30 hours of work per week on the farm. Tasks might include planting, weeding, picking or helping at the farmers’ market.
About 100 people have come to stay in the past decade, with most hailing from Europe and others coming from Asia and Australia.
Dudy called it a “very rewarding experience.
“It’s really interesting,” he said. “You get to meet all these young people who bring a whole new culture.”
A Swiss girl who first visited five years ago has returned multiple times, most recently for a six-month stint. Only once has someone been asked to leave.
Never before, however, have Dudy and Kellog played host to those with connections to royalty.
“No, that’s the first time that’s happened to us, so it’s kind of neat,” Dudy said.