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 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 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!