WWOOFing? Yes, wwoof’ing. It stands for World Wide Opportunites on Organic Farms. To put it simply, it’s a work exchange program; in exchange for your labor on a farm, you receive a place to stay and food to eat. There are farms all over the United States as well as in most countries who participate in this program, and they appear to be very appreciative of the help they receive. It’s a great way to help out our small farmers and a way to learn all about the farming lifestyle.
Each host has different requirements in regards to length of stay, numbers of hours worked/day and so on, so it’s a good idea to search out the farms that fit you best. My first wwoofing adventure took place last year at Merlin’s Perch in Big Sur, California. A little late to be blogging about this now, I know, but I plan on doing it again and I would like to keep these memories all in one place.
Big Sur is just plain beautiful. These photos look like something found on google images, but I was fortunate enough to have taken them myself. I must have sat out there on those huge rocks for a couple hours just taking in all this beauty…
These waters run parallel to Highway 1, the California Pacific Coastline, and the actual farm on which I stayed was on top of a mountain located just across the highway. It’s about a good 2 miles up the mountain until you reach the farm. Adapted to running on Florida’s flat terrain, this daily 2 mile uphill run sure got me tired quickly…but it got a little easier as time went on.
|A great view from the very top of the mountain.|
|Taken from the roof of the house – a place to where the wwoofers would escape for yoga, meditation and art.|
Merlin’s Perch is run by a wonderfully philosophical man, Lloyd, who was eager to teach. Eager to teach his wwoofers anything he knew about farming, construction and life. However, he is also a great listener – a quality hard to find in many today. I was fortunate enough to share my time on the farm with some very genuine people….
|Cleaning my little sleep trailer before my arrival…so nice!|
|wwoofers from another farm closeby|
|From left to right: Me, Lloyd, Stephen|
We worked from about 9am-3pm most days, and were given one day off to explore the area on our own. Sometimes on Friday nights, wwoofers were taken to Dance Jam at a local restaurant where we would have some dinner and dance to a local band.
This farm had lots of fruit trees, olive trees, and many vegetables; most of the vegetables were harvested before I arrived. Picking and eating the fruit right off the tree where nutrition is at its peak was wonderful. Unless you keep a garden or work on a farm, most people don’t get this opportunity. The flavor of food this fresh is unlike any other. We are so accustomed to supermarket foods that have been heavily processed and to produce that has traveled thousands of miles, that we have lost touch with what it really takes to produce food. Processing and traveling greatly alters a food’s taste and nutrition profile. Yes, the way we produce and distribute food today in the states allows for a widely available selection of goods at a relatively cheap price, but the true cost of our production methods are creating problems elsewhere. Problems such as obesity and diet related diseases which are taking a toll on our healthcare system; depletion of soil health and diversity through monoculture crops, which will eventually become so devoid we won’t be able to sustain future generations; resistant superbugs created by the overuse of pesticides, and many more. This is why I value organic farming – because it’s a more natural way to produce food that is healthy not only for the individual, but also for the land, a part of life about which many seem to forget but which doesn’t forget us.
|I swear I could taste the vitamin C…|
|Once you have had a fig right off its branch, you will never eat Fig Newtons again!|
|Our Meijer lemon harvest! Meijer lemons are much sweeter than the typical tart variety. We made a lot of lemon marmalade.|
We always cooked and ate our meals together. It was fun and it was a great way to learn about other cooking ideas.
|Our communal lunch-time eatery|
|Rice and chickpeas with beets and mixed veggies|
|Borscht! A Russian beet soup eaten either hot or cold.|
Unfortuantley, I was only able to spend 2 weeks in this paradise before the real world came knocking at my door and sent me off to work at my new job. A very rewarding job, however, so I cannot complain. All I can do is appreciate the time I had here.
All of my great experiences on this farm only motivated me to find another opportunity to wwoof again! And so I will! This November, I’ll be heading to South America to wwoof several countries with my amazing friend (who is also my lover!). We will be keeping a separate travel blog, which I will share with you all before we head out!