Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wwhat a wwonderful wworld of Wwoofing...




After spending weeks upon weeks researching the best means to do my regional farm work in order to extend my visa in Australia for another year the idea of wwoofing came up as the optimum solution.

When you are informed consistently that the opportunity to do paid harvesting work is very unlikely this year due to the lack of rain and the competitive nature of these jobs due to the huge percentage of the country looking for work it was very fortunate that Wwoofing was an option for me. It stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms or as this logo says World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.

After fulfilling my required 3 months of helping out with many people from a range of ages, backgrounds and sensibilities I still find it difficult to fathom this wwoofing exchange. Undergoing 5-8 hours work a day had its challenges at times-coping with the heat, the insects, the cuts, blisters, dehydration and isolation - but its rewards were unsurpassable. Yes, I was meeting a need for people who require help physically with their land but what I received in return cannot so easily be put into words-but gratitude, a bottomless pit of gratitude is felt.

I sometimes found it difficult to believe that it was a fair exchange as people are so generous with their knowledge and experience



After Sydney insisting I leave her after an interesting six months, (getting knocked down off my bike) I hit the road.

First place I stayed was with Elaine and Bob on Wallis Lake
Main work: general crop maintenance and propagating plants

Organic farming may seem like a new age trend in some ways but it really takes us back to an age-old system that thrived before the manufacture of chemicals and pesticides were introduced. I have learned first hand that it is the most beneficial means for plants to thrive and the results in the edible garden allows for extraordinary flavours and the healthiest, most

This host family may be organic farmers with such natural greenfingers as their garden blossomed with all kinds of colours, aromas but the visual delight came from the organised structure to this little taste of paradise.
Listening to the sounds of joy frm a couple in their 70s who are so playful at heart -would inspire anyone to grow, nurture and maintain a farm as it gives them such delight.
As with many who choose to go the organic route the need to absorb the health benefits was just as much from a desire to have a beautiful retirement home it was to live in an holistic environment.
The land on the waters edge, on Wallis Lake was once a cattle paddock -therefore very fertile land-but before the Walsemans moved in it was mostly inhabited by wild lavender.
Bob lead me to see kangaroos for the first time. They graze early in the morning. What strange beautiful creatures-I cannot help see how human they are.
It was also interesting to be involved in the trial planting of a japanese plant (as a research process with the local university) that could have huge health benefits. (Yes, I realise I have used the term health benefits too many times...but as opposed to using the thesaurus the meaning is there!)
 This beautiful couple had recently visited Ireland and were even in Cobh which is so close to the family house at home in Cork-just one of the starting points of connections and signs that was to begin a fascinating journey for me.

Thank you Elaine and Bob- a truly beautiful, warm and generous couple. x











Kate, Ian and Sage
-general crop work, trimming trees

Moving on from a very methodical, systematic and beautifully groomed environment to working and living with a couple who met studying architecture and bonding over their love of music-brought me into the world that thrived on all things organic...in a more freer, wilder manner.
From their habits of showering outdoors to using all kinds of found objects in the formation of their garden, a springtime wonderland, a very natural world of growing and learning was found.
Living with an 8year old, 2 dogs (1 pup arrived the same day as me) a horse, a donkey and many well-fed chooks, gave me an insight into the power of sharing, communication, negotiation, consideration, preparation, perseverance and imagination!
These wonderful people have travelled the world and are very familiar with wwoofing being involved in projects in Europe and South America..and they lived in Ireland for a bit-yay!
Artist is a term that has connotations of painters and sometimes pain but but Kate has to be one of the most natural artists I have come across. Her sensibilities with colour and sense of touch shows her freedom and joy in all her endeavours.
Using permaculture philosophies of 'maximizing useful connections between components and synergy of the final design'  or more simply utilising 'the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together'..that's according to wiki..and also according to Kate, were the basis of how the edible garden, the orchard, the chook house and the whole environment flourished and blended together.  Some of the numerous activities included trimming and maintaining trees like the bananas, guavas, grapefruit, lemon, orange, mulberry...and then there was the strawberry season. I had never seen so many strawberries and they all took on little personalities as they were dotted around the gardens, in amongst welly boots that have plants emerging, old broken shovels that now create structures in the garden...so beautiful!










 These sustainability conscious architects use rammed earth blocks in the structure of their beautifully designed house-which retains the heat in the cooler months and keeps heat at bay in the summer! I learned the necessity of these kinds of precautions, even in springtime as there is always the threat of a fire or a flood!
Kate, Ian and Sage welcome wwoofers on a regular basis and have a wonderful open-door policy with good nearby friends which make it seem like one big family-all creative and such fun!



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wed the 23rd, The Couch, South Coogee

Once again its 6 am and I'm awake, don't know why my body doesn't want to sleep in over here. Went to a gig last night and had a munch before throwing earphones in to make me conk out but between the birds crazy noises, the wonderfully powerful wind and spose the need for a pee I'm up. So gona try doing something productive and actually get out of me just some of the events and wonders I have witnessed and been apart of so far in Sydney.

Hermitage Green I also blame you for my lack of sleep. Twice in two days I have seen ye play now and just a lil embarrassed but mostly happy ye remember me, coz wow will I remember you guys!
Each one of ye talented musicians-
from slidey, bangey, tappy acoustic guitars,
class voices,
the acapella (which has surprising info from wiki) ...ooh the harmonies, which are delivered in an almost regal or solemn manner (aah how to describe it!??) but make ya feel all warm inside,
the banjo!!
the harmonica...yup that's def making a come-
and what the what...feckin unreal bodhran.
Thank you boys!!
Heres a wee link or two...but hope people upload stuff from the Golf Club...special times..like when was the last time you bopped, cried, bopped and crippled over laughing at a gig! I def got my stamp on!
Baby on board is inspired by none other than The Simpsons...

Then they mentioned watching footage from the Dubliners singing The Auld Triangle...

The way they do their medleys is one of the most hilarious mixes..but you will just have to witness that in person yourself...
They seem to like to end on this one....feckin class..one of their own...The Golden Rule...actually can't find good link online so I shall give you Gibson




aah jesus...they're also educators!...


Ok so now it's cartoon time with Nikita...one of these days I'll actually mention something about Oz..but so far from a couch Adventure Time and Gumball are actually brilliant cartoons...mental sense of humour and wonderfully creative with their characters...and some of the voices - wow

K...must actually update on the beaches and artiness next time..x




Wednesday, February 24, 2010






Feliz Compleanos! We celebrated La Cambalachas 7th birthday on Friday with a guest musician from the city coming to help celebrate. Using a make-shift altar from one of the flat stones in the garden everyone brought gifts to offer and lit candles to mark the day. What an accomplishment, delighted to be part of this occasion and know that this organisation that celebrates the arts with local youths will flourish even more in time to come. 7 cakes helps the celebration!

Friday, February 12, 2010

A daily taste...!

According to the Mayan calendar posted near this computer today is NO´J KumkÚ ´Wayeb´ or the 12th February (but the new year starts on the 22nd Feb…I´ll have to find out more about that!). I woke up at seven am today to find that the San Pedro Volcano that casts a remarkably imposing view (a mere 3020 metres elevation) had disappeared in the haze of the morning. I crave some of the delicious fresh fruit that is in abundance here, pineapple, melon, bananas (and mini bananas!), watermelon, papaya. I head down from the grounds of La Cambalacha on the rocky dirt track into ´town´ for some yoga to start me off today. San Marcos La Laguna is one of the most beautiful spots there is to visit on the lake here and as many people come for a time of relaxation there is a constant source of places to do yoga! My flexibility can definitely do with much improvement but it is a great way to start my day! I came back up the hill to see that the mountain that we are on is starting to clear up and I know it is going to be another warm one.

Luckily here on the grounds we have plenty of coverage from the heat of the day from the bamboo and corrugated plastic roofs and many tropical trees. So the youth group that come here four times a week is usually split up into different groups JAIH and JAI according to age and experience and suitability to the activities.
They arrive here at 8am either from here in San Marcos or on a pick-up or tuc-tuc from San Pablo the next town over and start off with some chores, everyone has their designated area to look after-sweeping and clearing areas and putting all the organic waste in its proper area for dumping. There is a very organized area for all recycling that is maintained on a daily basis; paper, plastic, cans are ordered into different sections.
Charlie is our onsite botanist and tree-lover (amongst many of his expertise) and he shares his knowledge on maintaining a good garden with all the youngsters-the herb garden is used for nearly every meal and the avocado tree that grows over my room has avocados the size of a small child´s head but they let out an alarmingly loud thump everytime one falls that you would swear you were under attack! I can spot some banana trees, papayas and trees with beautiful flowers that attract hummingbirds throughout the day.
Classes throughout the day include warm-up activities, dance, theater and social awareness, gymnastics, acrobatics, arts and crafts, guitar and drumming. We have constantly changing different workshops from people of all walks of life. Today the poet Rosa Chavez is doing a workshop on Mayan culture with the whole group and I can hear many laughs from them as they do different activities.

Lunch is massive and soo tasty here made with the talent of Angela who uses every pot and pan in the kitchen and loves to taste it all with her fingers as she goes. We have also noticed that whether she is cooking for one or for 100 there is the same catastrophic pile-up of crockery, vegetables and their remains, boiling pots and containers of sauces and chilies scattered around the kitchen!

I have just finished a cuppa organic coffee (that I ground down this morn in a grinder that looks similar to one you would make to squeeze out sausages!). We have a younger group coming this afternoon that I must prepare for. They come twice a week and have energy to burn! My organisational skills are being tested here but they are very talented with their hands---lanterns are the way to go today!
video



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Traditional wear! Yvonne, Aisling, Nora, Sean and Eoghan-looking lovely at our intercultural dayand the teenagers practising for their Inclusion orientated performance in the dance studio-they came up with ideas through exercises and using their own experiences and talents.