Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Category: WWOOF

Reflections on 3 Months of Travel

I’ve been back in the U.S. for a little over a week now (it feels so much longer already!  My travels seem like a dream!), and I thought it would be good for myself to do a post on my overall reflections from my travel.  At the halfway point, I wrote a reflection post; and just for the sake of closure, and for my own processing, I’d like to use the same format to look at the 2nd half of my trip (quickly) and also my overall trip.

SECOND HALF OF MY TRIP: (Nelson, New Zealand to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

LOWLIGHTS

  • My first few days in Bali.  I was overwhelmed by the heat and humidity and the touristy facade to EVERYTHING; and it being Thanksgiving, I was a little homesick, too.  Once I hit Amed for the scuba course, though, everything turned around.
  • The heat, humidity, pollution, dust in the big cities in both Bali and Malaysia.  I missed the fresh, cool air of New Zealand.
  • Getting tons of mosquito bites and even some allergic reactions to tiger balm (that’s my diagnosis, at least) on my left leg in Malaysia.  I was so itchy for days it wasn’t even funny.  The Malaysian mosquitoes were quite vicious (and that was confirmed by another traveler I met).
  • Saying goodbye to New Zealand.  I was so sad to leave that beautiful country.

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • The biggest highlight (not only for the 2nd half of my trip but overall, I’d have to say) was getting my Open Water Diving scuba license.  It was such an amazing experience from start to finish, not only because it was so fear-inducing and fear-conquering but because I was able to see beautiful aquatic life 15-20 meters underwater.
  • The markets in Malaysia.  Sights, sounds, smells, tastes (the ones I ate at)… all amazing.
  • Cooking meals for my host family in Kerikeri in New Zealand.  We ate so well together, and they were so appreciative.  It was great fun.
  • The food in Melaka, Malaysia.  So mouthwateringly good.  And like nothing I had ever eaten before.  I wish I could have some now.
  • Riding a scooter around Pulau Pangkor.  It was so liberating and fun.  I wasn’t even going that fast, but it was so nice to be going faster than walking speed and not be in a car.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • Traveling in Southeast Asia as a single, young-looking (because I look a lot younger than I actually am) woman raises lots of people’s curiosity and admiration.  I was surprised by this because in New Zealand, it was quite common to find other single female travelers. In Asia, though, that was something that was not common, and I always had to figure out what kind of answer to give and was even wondering why they were asking.
  • I am not a great tropical-region traveler.  I always knew that I’m not good with heat and humidity, but being in Bali and Malaysia during their rainy season where I think the humidity was even higher than other times of year was quite a challenge.  I kept hoping it would cool off in the evenings but it didn’t.  And my spirits were definitely a little lower as a baseline because of the humid weather.  If I could travel in a tropical area and always have a pool or ocean to jump into to cool off, I think I’d be much better off.
  • Bringing some laundry detergent with me was a good idea.  I was washing some of my clothes almost every other day in Southeast Asia because 1) I didn’t have a lot of clothes and 2) I was sweating profusely each day and didn’t want to be a smelly person.

OVERALL 3 MONTH TRIP

LOWLIGHTS

Overall it was an amazing trip, and I didn’t experience ANY mishaps, accidents, dangerous moments.  I was pretty good about staying alert and not doing anything too risky (except for diving, but that was with an instructor, and it didn’t seem dangerous to me), so I was OK.  So the only lowlights I can really think of that stand out were

  • mosquito bites
  • the over-tourism of Bali
  • some of the traveler’s guilt I felt in Bali and Malaysia, especially the poorer areas

HIGHLIGHTS

  • As stated before, I think the scuba diving course, staying in Amed at the Geri Geria Shanti Bungalows, and meeting the amazing people there was a highlight.  I will never forget those first days diving in the amazing reefs and the shipwreck.  It was truly amazing and life changing.
  • All my WWOOFing placements were great, and I am still in touch with most of the people and hope to go back someday.  I learned a ton, got to really get my hands dirty (literally), and got more in touch with nature than I ever have.
  • Seeing lots of sunrises and sunsets in all three countries was wonderful.  I was basically awaking with the sun and sleeping when it got dark, rarely using an alarm clock at all, even when I had things I had to do.  I was outdoors most of the time, and I really enjoyed that– the hiking, the walking, the exploring, getting to know new flora and fauna.
  • FOOD!  Both in New Zealand and Malaysia.  In New Zealand because so often it was organic, fresh from a garden or a farm and often homemade.  In Malaysia because it was just soooo good.  I wasn’t crazy about the food in Bali.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • I really, really enjoyed traveling on my own, and I don’t think there were any moments that I felt like I couldn’t do something because I was by myself.  However, I think it would have been enjoyable to have a companion at various points to celebrate the high points together (or even to have some company when I was homesick over Thanksgiving.).  On the one hand, I’ve really gotten to enjoy and value solo travel, but I don’t think I’ve been put off from traveling with someone(s) for ever.  It’s nice to have someone to reflect with at the end of the day, to talk through decisions with, and to enjoy the good times with.  I think that’s why I really enjoyed the places where I met great people with whom I could talk and connect with.
  • Keeping an open mind- being ready to meet new people, try new foods, go down new paths- is important to me for travel.  I could have planned everything before I left, down to the hour, but I didn’t have the time nor the energy to do that kind of preparation.  So I ended up figuring out my general itinerary a few weeks in advance and then went day by day.
  • Tripadvisor is a great resource for accommodations.  The reviews that I read were accurate for the most part.
  • Having a Schwab account with ATM card was a HUGE asset.  No ATM fees anywhere, and I could withdraw any amount of money from any ATM machine.
  • I went the cheap route for as much as I could but splurged here and there– last dinner in a town, the scuba course, last hotel for all my travels.  Those splurges were nice treats to myself, especially when I had gone budget for everything else, including walking that extra mile with all my baggage instead of getting a taxi.

FOR THE FUTURE

I know travel is always going to be a part of my life, as it always has been.  I’d love to go back to New Zealand and explore more of the North Island and the southern part of the South Island.  I’d also like to try WWOOFing again at some point if I can, maybe somewhere else in the world– Italy, France, Japan…

So to wrap things up, here’s my itinerary:

  1. Landed in Auckland from Los Angeles.  1 night.
  2. First WWOOF home outside of New Plymouth.  10 nights.
  3. Wellington with a family friend.  2 nights.
  4. Seresin Estate in Renwick.  15 nights.
  5. WWOOF home outside of Christchurch.  9 nights.
  6. Wanaka.  3 nights.
  7. Franz Josef.  3 nights.
  8. Punakaiki.  2 nights.
  9. Nelson.  4 nights.
  10. Wellington.  1 night.
  11. Intercity overnight bus.  1 night.
  12. WWOOF home outside of Kerikeri.  8 nights.
  13. Auckland airport.  1 night.
  14. Ubud, Bali.  4 nights.
  15. Amed, Bali.  5 nights.
  16. Sanur, Bali.  2 nights.
  17. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  2 nights.
  18. Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia.  2 nights.
  19. Melaka, Malaysia.  2 nights.
  20. KL, Malaysia.  3 nights.

TOTAL: 86 days

  • 3 countries
  • 16 towns/ villages/ cities
  • airplanes, trains, boats, scooter, taxi, buses, cars, bicycles
  • almost 2000 photos and short videos
  • three pairs of pants, two pairs of shorts, some t-shirts and tanktops, my Keen shoes, a pair of Tevas, and other clothing

I’m happy to share more detailed tips and information for anyone that’s looking to travel to these places.  Ask while I still remember!  Leave me a comment!

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Kerikeri: WWOOFing Finale

My days in New Zealand are coming to an end. It's felt like a year! My last week is being spent in Kerikeri, in the Northland region of New Zealand. This area is famous for its beaches, avocadoes, kiwifruit, and oranges. It's the warmer part of the country, and I'd say it's the equivalent to Florida in some ways– where seniors come to retire, orange groves everywhere… And then there's a touch of Hawaii, too, with macadamia nuts, surfing, and diving in some areas.

I'm staying with a wonderful couple who are hard workers who have been on the land here for over 20 years. They've really built up the place to be their dream oasis. She with her sprawling and beautiful gardens, he with a workshop full of tools and equipment for woodworking, tinkering, engineering, and doing all kinds of things with his hands.

Top: pond that they made with some of her many plants. Bottom left: her veggie garden. Bottom right: more of her plants.

The WWOOFing here entails some weeding and working in their orchards. The orange grove is seeing its last fruit (winter is their season), and my co-WWOOFer and I are thinning feijoa trees. Thinning means snipping off the excess buds and flowers so that the remaining fruit can grow bigger. Feijoas are fruits that are native to parts of South America and are now grown quite extensively in New Zealand. They're also known as pineapple guava or guavasteen. here's a photo:

Unfortunately, I will not be able to try one because they don't get ripe until March. I've heard they're amazing. But I'm starting to see buds in my sleep because it's quite tedious– looking through the trees for excess buds and blossoms to snip off:

The work here isn't too hard, and the house is lovely, the couple is lovely, and I've been able to cook and bake for them which has been great fun. They really appreciate good food, and I've been able to be creative. There's another WWOOFer staying here, a Chinese young woman, and we've done some cooking together, too, although she doesn't know how to cook so much.

Here's a sampling of what I've made:

Korean BBQ with beef from their cow, sesame-dressing salad, and broccoli with sesame oil.

Carrot-ginger-raisin-range quick bread with oranges from their grove.

Pizzas with homemade wheat-white crust. Various toppings-- veggies and meats. And even a Hawaiian pizza at the bottom!

Made with my co-WWOOFer: beef and pork dumplings and scallion pancakes. Everything, including the wrappers, from scratch. Beef and scallions from their farm.

I'm seriously gaining some weight here– my pants fit a little tighter. The feijoa-thinning isn't as much exercise as weeding and other work that I've done on other farms. But it's great fun being in a nice kitchen, cooking and baking. I haven't really done it for so long– basically since I started packing almost three months ago! I realize how much I love to cook and bake, especially for others. I think this IS one of my passions that I need to do for my future career/ job/ worklife.

Besides eating and enjoying a beautiful room and house, I went on an easy hike, again with the other WWOOFer to Rainbow Falls and then following the Kerikeri river to the town of Kerikeri. It was a beautiful day and we saw some really nice sights along the way.

And we also went to Puketi Forest where there is a stand of Kauri trees, famous trees for their largeness and their oldness. Beautiful tall, straight trees. They were used for their timber until they became endangered, and now they're protected. Huge!

The man of the family used to do a lot of woodworking, and he used Kauri tree scraps to make things like cutting boards– they're a beautiful wood with interesting lines and designs in them.

Bowl made by the man of the house. It's from the resin knot of a Kauri tree. Beautiful.

Just a few more days here before heading out to Bali! I'm getting excited. I've booked my first accommodation in Ubud for a few days. And then hoping to get in a diving course!! It's getting into rainy season there, but I hope it's nice and warm so I can swim, snorkel, and enjoy the beaches.

 

WWOOFing and Tourist-ing

I'm reminded often of how different this kind of traveling that I'm doing is compared to regular sightseeing travel. There's a time and place for each kind of travel, and I can't say one is better than the other. It definitely takes a certain frame of mind to do it either way.

WWOOFing

Seeing New Zealand as a WWOOFer, I'm getting a view that travelers AND residents alike probably wouldn't get unless they were farmers or gardeners. Interestingly, many Kiwis know about WWOOFing (unlike in the U.S.) because I guess it's common enough. Though cityfolk don't seem to know it.

It's like a homestay or a travel exchange. I eat with the family, get to know family members, including pets, and get to see another way of life at a very home-based level. I hear what people talk about at the dinner table. I see what people eat for their meals. And most interestingly, I get to pick up on country-specific idioms and ways of speaking. There are a few choice phrases that I've picked up that I just love because they're a bit country-ish and totally endearing:

  • heaps” as in “We just have heaps of veggies during the summer.” or “We have heaps of weeding to do today!” It's obvious what “heaps” means, and I love hearing it.
  • good on ya” as in “Oh, you can feed the animals tomorrow? Good on ya.” or “You did the dishes again? Good on ya!” You're seeing what I mean by country-fied speak here in New Zealand?
  • I reckon” as in “It's going to rain tomorrow, I reckon.” or “We've got a southerly wind coming in tomorrow; it'll be cold, I reckon.” or “Americans are quite materialistic, I reckon.” Seriously, both country-fied people and city people use this phrase ALL THE TIME. It's awesome!!
  • wee” as in “We put a wee lamp in your room.” or “I'll have a wee piece of cheese to go with this.” Men, women, children use this adjective all over the place. Totally cute. A bit of the British in the language, I daresay.

The list could go on, but those are some of my favorites.

WWOOFing also allows me to get my hands dirty, learning about gardening, farming, living off the land in various degrees (off the grid, plugged in, from garden to table, using a supermarket to supplement…). How cool is this? Getting to get free room and board (and usually the board includes great food, use of a washing machine, a great hot water bottle or electric blanket, and even a bike to borrow on days off!) with nothing to give in exchange except 5-6 hours of honest physical labor.

More before and afters of weeding. Can you tell the difference? Some of the statues and furniture were moved around.

So I'm getting fresh air, exercise, education, and lots in return! I'm also feeling the benefits and joys from things like weeding before and afters or a good collection of chicken eggs in a morning round or seeing the shoots or seeds planted growing bit by bit each day. Or getting to harvest my own greens for a good salad or stir fry or soup. I've had some kind of fresh produce everyday since coming to New Zealand (except for my day in Auckland), directly from a garden that I saw and had contact with.

Eggs I collected yesterday on my daily horse-chicken feeding round. So exciting! Free range, warm chicken eggs straight from the roost! I even have to physically move some chickens off the eggs to get at these eggs.

Tourist-ing

You have a lot more freedom with this method of travel. Go, stay, see the sights, hang out, stop for coffee, eat at a restaurant, cook in a kitchen at a hostel or apartment rental. I've definitely enjoyed this type of travel when I've done it. My trip to Paris last March was a great four and a half days (so short, I know!) of museum-hopping, cafe-stopping, and just walking-walking-walking around the beautiful city. I must've done like at least 10 miles a day!!

My favorite sculptor, Auguste Rodin, at his museum, which was, sadly, closed for renovation. But the sculpture garden was open... I love that museum in Paris!

Basilica of the Sacred Heart on a beautiful early spring day in March. Buskers doing their thing, couples, tourist groups, lots of Parisians and tourists alike.

With touristing, you don't often get to meet “the natives” and get a feel for how people live in that city. You remain “other” to the city or country. You are an outsider, and things are fine as is.

So far in New Zealand, I've only had a few days as a tourist– one day in Auckland when I arrived (at 6am from LAX!) and two-half days in New Plymouth on my days off from my first WWOOF host. Starting this weekend, I'll be a tourist again for almost two weeks, traveling the West Coast of the South Island– supposedly the most beautiful parts of New Zealand. I'll be staying at hostels, eating cheaply (probably bread, yogurt, muesli, and other easy meals I can whip up in hostel kitchens).

One thing about WWOOFing versus tourist-ing is that there's a HUGE different in how much money you spend (for obvious reasons). I've calculated that I've spent a little more than $200 in the last month I've been in NZ (not including my bus pass which was $415 or my plane ticket which was a little over $600). Wow, that's about $8/ day. And $70 of that was gift vouchers that I gave to my first host family to thank them for an amazing stay. Other than that, I've only spent money on some food here and there and city bus tokens. And I've estimated that my next two weeks of travel will cost me about $500 or so with hostel and food costs and maybe some excursion costs. Yikes! Definitely puts costs into perspective when you're WWOOFing.

But don't WWOOF if you're not ready for and interested in farm work, I'd say. Otherwise, you just feel like free labor for something you won't really enjoy. And all that for a day off here and there, you might think? Like today, I weeded a garden bed, picked up sticks across a stretch of grass so the owner could mow, and snipped off low hanging leaves on a flax tree. And that took up about 6 hours of work. Not recommended for those of you who don't want to get some dirt under your fingernails, cobwebs in your hair, and be squatting for hours on end.

I'm even thinking of where else I could WWOOF so I could get a similar experience in another country– like Provence or Tuscany or Hawaii or farmland of Korea or Japan… Anyone want to join me? 🙂

One drawback of WWOOFing is that you need a good chunk of time to travel like this. Staying just for a week or a few days just doesn't cut it.

The Universe Gives

I don't know if I'm just a lucky person or if it's something in my optimistic and overall positive outlook, but (knock on wood!) I think the universe has been good to me, not only on this trip so far, but also in my life. Maybe I'm jinxing myself by saying this… (hopefully not!)

Case in point: I'm currently at a really cool place. But this wasn't always the case. After I left the vineyard, I was set up to stay at a home in Christchurch. It seemed all good to go, and the couple had received a good review, so I thought it would be as great as my other two places were. I won't go into too much detail because this is a public blog after all, but it just wasn't a good fit for me. The couple was really nice, but there were environmental issues that didn't work for me, and I decided after a day and a half that I didn't want to stay. So I found this place on the WWOOF website, and the woman of the house responded straight away (that's another Kiwi phrase– “straight away”) that I could come– perfect timing, she said.

The property consists of 13 acres of paddocks (grassy fields) divided into sections for different types of animals; a beautiful big house; gardens; and other nooks and crannies with little treasures in the form of statues, courtyards, little hideaways for kids and adults to enjoy. The family has lived here for a little over a decade, and it's obvious they've put a lot of work into it. There are endless projects that both woman and man of the house are working on– everything from the man of the house's little personal cottage to an earthquake-damaged spa pool room that could be converted into a study to more gardens… Intense! But they love it, for sure.

View into the gardens from the front of the house. The two brick pillars are actually their chimney which fell down from the earthquake, so they installed them here as an entryway to their garden.

A little about the animals, most of which are as pets and amusement:

  • 4 llamas: Obama, Humphrey, Yoda (a miniature llama), and Cameo. Those are funny animals, and I guess they sometimes use them as pack animals– taking them on hikes so they can carry the equipment and stuff.
  • 4 horses: Starbuck and Paloma are more just pets– beautiful. Jimi (named after Jimi Hendrix) is a thoroughbred which the youngest daughter will be training as a show horse. And then there's Wolfie, a little miniature horse– such a cutie.
  • About 9 chickens, I think– kept for their eggs. A funny clucking bunch.
  • 4 cats: India (the mother), Muffin, Prince, and Totoro (yes, named after the Hiyao Miyazaki character! He's a cute little grey cat. The rest are black with various patches of white.), each with their own personality. And much loved by the owners.
  • A few cows– for milk, which they sell to the local community. I don't know their names and haven't formally met them. 🙂

So my jobs on the farm mostly consist of weeding and helping here and there with odd jobs. I feed the chickens and Jimi and Wolfie each morning. And feeding the chickens also involves collecting their eggs. That's quite interesting– I have to physically remove the hens from their roost to get the eggs that they're sitting on (not fertilized since there's no rooster). A bit close for comfort, but I haven't gotten pecked yet. I've also picked up sticks so the man of the house can mow the lawn; cleaned out their courtyard (weeding and raking leaves); and weeded and weeded and weeded!

A before and after of my weeding. This patch took me about an hour, I think. Isn't it lovely?

My daily attire (as it has been on all the farms) includes:

This family definitely doesn't have a shortage of gear, especially gumboots. These are ALL for WWOOFers! All shapes and sizes!

  • gumboots– these are basically used as rainboots back in Boston, but they're essential on a farm as you're walking through dew, manure, dirt, and all sorts of terrain. My mom, before I left, asked if I should buy my own to bring because she saw them on everyone's feet when she was researching WWOOFing (to ensure that I was going to be safe!!). But every WWOOF host has WWOOFer gear, including gumboots. I will never look at rainboots the same again!
  • work jumpsuit (not sure what's the exact term)– a full body suit, made of cotton, to keep your clothes clean when you're brushing up against hairy and furry animals, working with dirt and manure, pruning rose bushes… Also to keep you warm. I have yet to come across a snugly fitting suit– most are too big for me, but they're great!
  • gloves– super important for whatever– weeding, picking up chickens, protecting your hands from thorns, pricklies, dirt, bugs, etc. I have yet to use the gloves that my youth back home gave me as a going away present (best ever!) because every host has gloves, so I don't have to dirty mine.
  • sun hat– I brought this, and it's been great to have to keep my face shaded. Supposedly there's a big hole in the ozone over New Zealand so the UV rays are stronger, and it does feel brighter here than back in the U.S., so a hat is really important.

I'm feeling lucky that I landed here. I'm learning so much from the couple that owns the place. About farm life from the man of the house and about sustainable and spiritual life from the woman of the house. “B”, the man of the house, is teaching me about correct terminology– tools, equipment, and the like. He's adamant that I know the correct vocabulary so we can communicate more efficiently and effectively with each other. He's all about logic, efficiency, working smart. He's a hard worker and his “doing” orientation really makes this place run.

From “F”, the woman of the house, I'm learning about things to feed the soul– making bread, eating organics, the beauty of gardening and going with the flow, living for the moment, following your dreams. She's so different from her partner, and such a kind and beautiful soul. They make a fun and interesting couple.

My tiny little cottage (?) off of the house. Just a bed, desk, stereo, some books, and bureau with a few windows. I use the bathroom in the main house. It's a cute little set up.

So I don't know if I've just lucked out to land with such amazing hosts because I'm sure not all WWOOFing hosts would be the perfect fit for me, but so far it's been great. I'm eating well here, too. And learning about a different way of sustainable living. They're not off the grid like my first host was– definitely plugged into the real world and technology. It's interesting to see different lifestyles where making and growing your own food is central.

I have so many books I want to read when I get back to the U.S., and so much I want to look into– permaculture design course, biodynamics course, gardening clubs… Just have to take one step at a time.

Back to the title of this post, then– I think the other part of receiving so much from the universe is that one has to be open to receive whatever comes. Turning lemons into lemonade. Or making the best of any situation. Or seeing the good side in whatever happens. So maybe things have happened to me that may have been unpleasant, negative, even bad (?); but I've been open to whatever it is I'm supposed to learn from that situation and moved forward.

There's an alchemy here of positive attitude, optimism, luck, benevolence of the universe, and acceptance, I guess, which is important in living day to day. I'm so appreciative of all I'm receiving right now. Thanks, Universe!!

A Job Well Done

Hard work, done with good intention, love, in community with others, and with purpose, is always satisfying and rewarding. My weeks WWOOFing have made that statement real in a palpable way. Gardening, working in the fields, physical labor– you see the results of your work; and when working in harmony with the earth, you feel the results as well.

Today was satisfying and rewarding:

Number 1: In the morning, the Tatou residents (Tatou is the name of the vineyard block where there is a house for WWOOFers and part time employees. Currently there are three of us living there who are all Americans, one is working at the winery and me and the other are WWOOFers.) served up the eats for the weekly Wednesday Smoko, and I must say we did a decent job: whole wheat banana muffins, greens-feta-leek frittata, and apple-rhubarb crumble with homemade whipped cream. We each worked on one of the parts of the menu; and I think we impressed the Seresin staff (though I must say my frittata was a bit on the salty side and undercooked– it could have been better!) with the efforts.

Wednesday smoko at the winery lab at Seresin. I like the backdrop of the lab equipment with the food spread.

Number 2: A few of us went to Raupo, the biggest and further-away vineyard, to make compost. In this case, making compost on a large scale is like making a huge parfait of hay, gorse (a yellow-flowered plant that is a weed) clippings, fermented skins and pulp from last year's Pinot grapes, and a cow-poo/water slurry (yum!). So we just pile a layer on layer of each of these things, and the cow poo slurry involves scooping up the stuff in a bucket and then flinging it on the big compost pile. You don't want to splash that on yourself, but I (and everyone else) got drops and smears on ourselves.

We were using pitchforks, rakes, buckets, our hands to make all this happen. It's a cool process, compost making. We make a huge long heap, probably about 4-ish feet tall and 20-30 feet long (I'm a terrible judge of distance). It took a half day to make it with six people all doing different parts. You forget that you're flinging cow-poo because you're making nice conversation with other people about life, movies, farming, biodynamics, cow poo, hypothetical situations (would you rather be a peasant living in London in the Middle Ages or a native American in America before the colonizers come but during the time of battles among different tribes?). I can see how you really get to know people working in the fields.

So that huge heap will sit for about a year or a year and a half, decomposing, getting recycled into the earth by lots of little insects and worms; and it becomes a beautiful soil for the plants on the Estate.

Didn't get a photo of the compost heap but this is a view of Raupo.

As at my previous WWOOFing place, I'm learning so much everyday from everyone that works here. A lot of what I'm learning is simple and commonsensical, about returrning to a more natural way of farming and taking care of the earth– but isn't that really what life is about? Getting back to basics. Not making things so complicated. For example:

  • Don't feed the plant/ vines. Instead, feed the earth and soil around it. All forms of life need to do some kind of work for themselves, to create, to struggle a little, to be stressed a little. In conventional farming, farmers feed the plant they're trying to grow and make life so easy for those plants that there's no more character left in the plant. In biodynamics, the belief is that the more natural way is to listen to Earth's natural life path and foster that, and that character in the plants creates a better plant and is better for the Earth. So they use preps called compost teas that feed the soil which makes the creatures in the soil, like worms, happy which makes the soil better, which then makes the vines grow better fruit. I love that idea of “happy” plants and creatures.
  • Use what's local, from the region. For example, they use seaweed from a mussel farmer at the sounds just north of here that gets fermented and then turned into some of that compost tea I mentioned. They use the poo from the cows which graze their fields for the compost. In fact, the other WWOOFer and I were shoveling up cow paddies from the fields yesterday which then got used in the compost parfait we made today.
  • Use the rows between vines for gardening because it's available space and it just makes sense! I think I mentioned this before, but it's not only just using available land but it also brings in insects and nutrients to the soil that wouldn't exist otherwise. And it's a way to feed the staff and Michael Seresin and his people with organic, biodynamically grown food.

These are all such simple principles, really, but in today's complicated, technologically-driven world, I think it really is a revolutionary way to think and approach life.

The road to work; bee hives at Home Block; beautiful view at the house at Tatou.

Beautiful views right outside our door at Tatou.

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