Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A WWOOFing Thanksgiving

As we write this, it's Thanksgiving Day, which of course means nothing in New Zealand. Also because of the timezone/international date line, it won't be Thanksgiving in the US until tomorrow. However, we're having a blast on our farm.

As some background for those that don't know, WWOOF stands for Willing Workers World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The idea is to link up farmers with workers. You buy a year-long membership to each country you want to WWOOF in and you get access to a database of farms that take on workers. We decided in the beginning to try it for New Zealand (we're open to trying other countries later in our trip, but we only bought one membership thus far. We didn't do it in Australia because we figured we'd have other stuff to do there). As mentioned previously, we sent out some requests and Doug and Jean-Ann of Puriri Flat farm said we could stay/work with them.

Jean-Ann picked us up at the bus station in Warkworth (about an hour north of Auckland) and we went to their farm. It's on a beautiful hill (nothing flat about their farm at all) overlooking a tidal river.

There were two choices for accommodations: a small house with bunk beds or a semi-permanent caravan (trailer) at the top of the property. We chose the caravan as it contained a double bed and was unbelievably cute as well as being private.

So far we've worked two days. Breakfast is at 8AM, we start work at 8:30, have tea (Doug is originally from England) around 10:30 and then go back to work until 1PM. After lunch we are free to do whatever we want in the afternoon. Lunches have been sandwiches or leftovers, but for dinner Doug or Jean-Ann cooks up something yummy.

Thus far the work has been manual labor type stuff. The first day we cleared and mulched brush along the side of their driveway (it rivals my Uncle Neil's driveway for steepness - although this one is made of cement sections). Today we took wheel barrow loads (33 loads to be exact!) sideways across a hill to fill in a retaining wall. It would have made a perfect Amazing Race task as it required teamwork to keep the wheel barrow from falling over and was also very tiring. Phil would be proud - we didn't drop one load!

Today Doug gave us a ride into Warkworth, although we have to hitchhike back. Their farm is about 10km from town, although they said people hitchhike all the time so we shouldn't be worried.

One other quick note: Doug showed us pictures of all the other WWOOFers who'd worked on their farm (they've been doing this since 2001 and have had probably close to 100 groups come to work, taking pictures of each person for their book) and we felt very unremarkable. They've had Japanese who've brought sushi-making materials, a philharmonic clarinet player who gave a concert in their yard, a fifth-generation mason from England who built them a stone wall and artists who've done beautiful artwork for them. Jaimee has some funny stories about autistic kids to share and I was able to chat with him about which band of service to use for his cell phone (GSM vs UTMS). Not sure how memorable we'll be. Although it has only been two days so we'll see what we can come up with.

We're scheduled to work here through December 5, and I sheepishly asked if they work on the weekends, and the answer was, "If you're staying here, yes" although the days might be shorter. We'll see...

1 comment:

  1. Wow that is a beautiful place to be staying. Love yall


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