Yesterday I did something that is usually reserved for the single 20-something backpacker: I went WWOOFing. WWOOF stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms and typically involves four to six hours work on an organic farm per day in exchange for food and lodgings. A wonderful way to travel and meet people and find accommodation when you are young... but not something you’d ordinarily find a 40-something mother-of-three doing on a rare day off from work and parenting duties.
But, hey, who cares what 40-something mother-of-three’s are supposed to do, right? I’m in for a spot of adventure, dog dammit, even if I did look like a most ridiculous WOOFer compared to the fit, lean, beautiful bunch of young travellers I hung out with yesterday.
Here’s why I went WOOFing: I am declaring 2012 to be my year of following my heart. My wild, creative heart and my deep desire to learn more and write more and photograph more.
2012 is the year in which I am going to really learn how to grow food (in my itsy backyard). And, if this journey of following my creative heart sees me squatting over a field planting parsley and coriander seedlings in the torrential rain with a bunch of young travellers, well, so be it. That’s where you’ll find me. What better way to learn about growing food than directly from the “real” farmers themselves?
WOOFing yesterday was a hoot – although my body is aching from it today – and I learned so much, simply by being out there and taking in the surrounds of the farm and talking to the farm workers and asking 101 questions. (The journalist-within can’t help herself.) Digging my hands into the red crumbly soil was delicious fun for this enthusiastic gardener, and I’m so lucky to be living in an abundant food-growing region that offers these opportunities.*
I asked about the corn growing; learned how to propagate sweet potato, how far apart to plant lettuce seedlings and that globe artichokes are members of the thistle family and much more. I saw, firsthand, just what hard work real farming can be; satisfying work, to be sure, but hard never-the-less. I came away from those few hours at the farm with a deeper appreciation of the effort that goes into growing food on such a scale, and a deeper respect for the farmers that nourish us.
For my efforts I was fed a delicious breakfast/lunch of freshly picked and prepared farm food; came home with a box of fresh organic produce and a couple of sweet potato cuttings to plant in my own backyard, a heap of inspiration for my own veggie patch and cooked up a meal full of colour and vitality for my family last night. What’s not to love?
Have you ever WWOOFed?
- I went WOOFing at Chestnut Farm, Newrybar, home to MunchCrunch Organics. You can find out more about them at www.munchcrunchorganics.com.au
- Find out more on WWOOFing here: www.wwoof.com.au