WWOOFing adventures with Hannah
WWOOFing adventures with Hannah
Hello there! My name is Hannah, and I am a guest blogger with a background in architecture and design, plus a passion for the environment, organic and local food, and naturopathic medicine, among other things.
Today I’m here to talk about my experience with an organization that has a big heart and a funny name. "WWOOF", as it is affectionately known, is an acronym for the organization called "Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms". As the name suggests, it is a worldwide network that matches organic farming opportunities with willing volunteers. As a worker, you live on the farm and eat there for free in exchange for about 4-5 hours of work per day on average, though the arrangements may vary from host to host. It is a fantastic opportunity to experience the beauty of exchange, be outside, get your hands dirty, and meet kindred spirits while learning and having lots of fun in the process. It’s also a great way to travel the world.
My WWOOFing experience led me to the magical Island of Corsica, situated in the Mediterranean Sea between France and Italy. I had two separate WWOOFing adventures, the first being a volunteer at an organic, biodynamic winery in northern Corsica. I got to be a part of each step of the winemaking process, from picking the grapes, loading them onto the tractor, watching them go through the machine that separates the fruit from the stems, and loading them into the giant 15-foot-tall vats where they undergo the fermentation process. Twice a day, we had to perform a process called "remontage du vin", which is the process of re-circulating the wine in the vat. A large hose is attached to the bottom with the other end held by a person sitting on a catwalk at the top of the vat spraying the liquid back down inside. This is important for several reasons: it aerates the wine, prevents it from drying out, and encourages the grape skins to circulate through the liquid and release more color into the wine. Our winemaking was interspersed with trips to the beach, bonfires, lazy afternoons in the sun, tending to the chickens and the garden, and visiting the nearby towns of St. Florent and Bastia. When I think about the sheer amount of things I learned, like how much my French improved, the incredible places I saw and the people I met, I can’t believe I was only there for two weeks.
The next leg of my adventure brought me south to the town of Petreto-Bicchisano, where I stayed with a lovely group of English people on a smallholding surrounded by mountains. They had an incredible garden, growing all kinds of things like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, beets, pumpkin, zucchini, kale, broccoli, leeks, carrots, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, and lest I forget the abundant fig trees that always served as our solution to what was for dessert. I landed in the right place at the right time, as the host family was just beginning to renovate a chalet on their property and asked me to help with the architecture. A chance to create a sustainable home, grow organic produce, cook with ingredients from the garden, and spend my days with wonderful people surrounded by scenery more beautiful than I could ever dream of? Somebody pinch me.
WWOOF is a worldwide network, so whether you live in France or Florida, you can sign up on the website of the country you wish to volunteer in and find a farm near you (or far away, if that’s what you desire)! You could spend a week’s vacation volunteering, or take a year off and WWOOF around the world. It’s all up to you, and waiting for you at www.wwoof.org.