The Okanagan Folk School

The Okanagan Folk School (OKFS) is a BC Non-Profit Society, unique for its dedication to teaching the arts, crafts, and cultural heritage of the Okanagan region. Made up of local artisans, crafts people, and volunteers, we offer non-competitive education focusing on the student. Located in Peachland, BC. a lakefront community, in the Central Okanagan, it is a region of wineries, orchards, golf, hiking, and mild winters.

Our Mission

Our mission is to create a strong community in Peachland dedicated to the joy of teaching, learning, and enriching the lives of our local citizens as well as folks from around the world. This will have Peachland become a significant year-round centre of learning in Western Canada. This mission also includes holding community events and seasonal celebrations and activities for children and families.

What is a Folk School?

Our focus at Okanagan Folk School is born largely from our location. In the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, we emphasize traditional Okanagan craft.

Five basic tenets guide all our classes and programs:

  1. Create a rich, positive environment that inspires lifelong learning in a non-competitive environment
  2. Promote and preserve the knowledge, skills, crafts, and stories of the past and present
  3. Help students recognize and develop their creativity, talents and interests in a student-centered environment that affirms individual differences
  4. Foster the concept of intergenerational learning
  5. Provide creative and meaningful opportunities for individuals, families, and groups

In discovering the cultural heritage of the Okanagan, our students integrate the technologies of the past with those of today, expanding their personal perspective of both the present and the future.

How the Okanagan Folk School works

Our instructors from around the country share their knowledge and skills and inspire you with their enthusiasm. Our year-round classes range from half-day sessions to multi-week courses. The office coordinates the students, instructors, and venues. We have several venues available in Peachland as well as private buildings.

Our “Community Hosts” ensure that our participants are comfortable and assist the instructors.

OKFS is supported by tuition, memberships, donations, and grants.

As the school grows, we will have festivals and fairs in Peachland to celebrate community and all the wonderful things people are learning here.

A Folk School Brings Prosperity to its Community

The Folk School Alliance, US, commissioned a study in 2008 and 2016 to see what economic impact the North House Folk School, located in Minnesota, had on their community. The results were positive, and I have listed the first two items below. North House Folk School has been in existence for 25 years and was the school that inspired our founder, Murray Wood.

In conclusion:

  1. The annual economic impact on Cook County has grown from $6,093,113 to $10,648,395 during the period between the two studies (2008 and 2017), a growth rate of more than quadruple the growth of the CPI (Consumer Price Index).
  2. The seasonality of the spending in the local economy does not compete with, but instead complements, the tourism economy in Grand Marais. Not only is its impact stronger when the tourism economy is relatively weak, it is relatively non-competitive when the tourism economy is strongest, and the school’s visitors are predominantly mid-week and tourism visitors are strongest on weekends. 

How Can I Get Involved?

If you would like to be informed of the Okanagan Folk School’s development, become a member, become an instructor, become a Community Host, offer a donation to build the OKFS, please contact:

Murray Wood                    604-786-9908