Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ready to WWOOF

In my first post, I wrote about our plans to move to Spain and have a smallholding; and how Habibibaba and I wanted to work on a Spanish organic farm this summer so that I can get some practice, and he can escape London for a while. (WWOOF was started to match green-starved city-dwellers with organic farmers in need of cheap and friendly temporary labour.) We're in the process of applying, and it's remarkable how many organic farms there are in Spain - 171 potential hosts on the WWOOF list alone.

Since Habibi and I want to move to the Mediterranean coastal city of Valencia, capital of one of Spain's historic farming regions, I hoped for a summer placement there, for an induction into local crops and methods. However, the majority of WWOOF farms are in Andalucia, which is further south, hotter and more arid, or further north in Catalunya, around Tarragona, Barcelona and Girona.

In fact, there are WWOOF farms throughout Spain, from Cadiz (Andalucia) within waving distance of Morocco, through sun-baked Extremadura and Castilla-y-Leon to lush green Galicia.

Within that, there are lone farmers, family holdings of one to fifty acres, guest houses, collectives, yoga and meditation centres, a riding school, research centres, arts colonies and hands-on teaching centres in sustainable development and permaculture. Crops include olives, almonds, carob, oranges, lemons, figs, quince, cork, wheat and barley. Vegans, vegetarians and omnivores catered for. According to experience and abilities, WWOOFers can tend poultry, sheep, horses and pigs; rebuild acequias (irrigation channels similar to falajes); weed vegetable gardens, prune orchards, build strawbale accommodation, keep house, press oil and clear land. Up a mountain, by the sea, or on the edge of desert! In return, you get board and lodging, good company, and a complete change from the 9-5 - usually an agreed number of hours' labour per day or week. Accommodation offered includes in-house, self-contained chalet, caravan, tipi and yurt! Well it appeals to me, and thousands of others all over the planet, since WWOOF was first set up in England in the 1971.

On the website, there's a list of countries where WWOOF operates, and lists of hosts. When you join, you get contact details and guidance on what to do and how to do it. Help is needed all year round, and you should contact potential hosts a month in advance.

BTW on one of my applications I happily declared my desire to keep patitos y galletas. I should have said patitos y gallinos, which means ducks and chickens. I seem to have signed up to tend ducks and biscuits. Ah well.


nzm said...

lol - please let us know how easy it is to farm the chocolate chips in comparison to the ginger snaps!


MamaDuck said...

I was just wondering where you'd got to. Thank you for your support, Friend!

nzm said...

Anytime you need my support, you can count on me!

Currently spending my last night in NZ before heading back to Dubai via Singapore.

Am only in dxb for 24 hours before flying out the other way for Berlin, Toronto, Boston, New York - then back to Berlin before heading home to dxb again sometime in early-mid July.

sigh! Globe trotter life used to sound so glamorous until I got to do it. It's the time wasted sitting in planes and going through airport security that I detest.

MamaDuck said...

Lord above! I don't know how you do it! I thought you had much longer than this. So glad you had such a lovely time - just been to your blog. Love your nephew's toothy laugh!

I've got a photo somewhere of my son at 2, rather apprehensively gazing at either a piglet or a calf through a city farm fence in Bristol. I remember that the piglet got out, and was chased down the path, with momma keeping pace on the other side of the fence, squealing abuse or encouragement (Hadn't seen Babe then, no language skills). Also, the calf caused consternation when it looked over the fence and started lapping up the long, straw-coloured hair of a young girl! First she froze, then she jumped back, giggling - so funny! Children and animals, hm?

If everything pans out, I'll be out of here on the 29th of this month, and back around the 20th of August. I told my husband that by the end of the summer I'm going to be brown, wiry, and fluent in Spanish. Are you familiar with ROTFLMAO? Grr!