We asked our WWOOFers to share their thoughts for this special guest post. Here is what they said.
As I embarked on my WWOOFing experience at Barberry Hill Farm, one of the things I was most looking forward to was the opportunity to strengthen my personal connection with one of the few loves of my life: food. Learning how to cultivate the foods that I had previously known only as products of grocery stores and farmers markets was exciting and empowering. Despite how much I thought I knew about food , I was surprised at how much I learned.
I had no idea red peppers were just more mature green peppers! And I learned how amazing it felt to dig down into the earth to find a patch of what I came to think of as "adorable" fingerling potatoes. There was nothing more gratifying than spending the day seeding, planting, watering and harvesting the very vegetables I would dine on that evening.
Taking the herbs and produce from around the farm straight into the kitchen, coming up with new dishes to make based on what was in season, and spending hours with the Goddard family, friends and fellow WWOOFers to prepare and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor were some of the best memories I have of my time at the farm.
Thanks to this experience, I've developed an even greater appreciation for food and conscientiousness regarding seasonality, as well as a desire to recreate the sense of community that the farm and these meals helped create when I return home. Hopefully I'll have some new recipes to share when we return to the farm next summer for our WWOOFer reunion dinner!
Hey there! My name is Mirja and I am from Germany! I am a WWOOFer at Barberry Hill Farm and I am working here for 2 ½ months. As a WWOOFer, I do a lot of picking and planting at the farm to help Kelly and Kingsley to prepare for the CSA and the Farmers’ Market. At the farm, we work a lot but I really enjoy to work in the outside and to learn about organic farming. I will go back to Germany soon and I really had a great time at Barberry Hill Farm and I made a lot of friends, who I will miss in Germany.
WWOOFing is a rather unique institution, something like a modern day apprenticeship. It's not quite employment and not quite volunteer work. We show up on a farm and exchange our labor for room and board while trying to immerse ourselves in the rhythms of farm life. Then we leave that all behind and return to our normal lives, hopefully a little bit wiser. We become part of the farm, but only temporarily, and most of the work we do here demands that we give up the expectations of instant gratification that technoculture has instilled in us. We insert ourselves into the biological rhythms of the growing cycles, but the produce we pick has its origins before our arrival and often when we start something we don't see the end product.
Despite these peculiar transitory characteristics of the WWOOFing arrangement, all the WWOOFers here seem to share common concerns and a sense of being connected with the processes at work in production. In my eyes the strongest uniting factor amongst us appears to be a common desire to understand the source of our food. But my personal attempts to do so have been humbling. While WWOOFing has given me brief and limited insight into specific phases in the growing cycles on the farm, it has also revealed to me how much goes into running a farm which I know nothing about and nobody can really grasp in a couple months. Organic farming is an art, but one that demands the coordination of myriad processes, some outside our control.
In an attempt to engage more fully with all of this, I have decided along with Kelly and Kingsley to extend my stay at Barberry Hill through the end of summer and early fall.
A month at Barberry Hill allowed me to become fully immersed in farm life. What struck me the most was the community that has formed around the farm. Kelly and Kingsley work extremely hard every day and have a group of friends and workers who help with everything from weeding to working the farmers markets to hanging out with the kids. I've learned the true value of fresh produce- the hours and hours of labor as well as the incredible difference in taste. My favorite memories are of the times spent in the kitchen cooking and eating the delicious vegetables with the hands that made it possible. I know I'll return to the farm in the future.
I came to this farm with a purpose; to selflessly lend a helping hand while enhancing my life as well as the lives of others around me. The dream I have of a world where the struggle to find food that is fresh, healthy and organic, that has been tediously thought of where quality is not without quantity is a dream that pushes me every day at Barberry Hill Farm. I am ever so grateful that this gem of charismatic land hidden within the seaside mansions and commercial developments of the Connecticut shoreline still exists.
Growing up in the woodland of eastern Connecticut with my family was an experience. I raised chickens with my sister straight from the incubated egg. I learned to plant and harvest delicious vegetables and fruits. I learned that the earth is fragile. Whatever we do to the soil and to the water will reflect back into nature.
Fast forward 13 years to the present. The world has grown dramatically not in just population, but in ideas, inventions and methods. I am here, with this wonderful farming family re-discovering my youth and learning new ways of coexisting with nature through food. Happy childhood memories flood black as I collect eggs in the henhouse and happily feed the many eager chickens and bleating sheep. Gold and crimson sunsets gently setting over the farmhouse. Lightning bugs flickering softly in the cool summer evenings. The brilliantly vibrant spectrum of colors and textures of the vegetables, flowers and berries at the lively farm stand. Learning how to transplant baby broccoli, beets and sunflowers. Correctly picking and pruning cucumber and tomato plants while learning of the diseases and blights that can so suddenly upset the balance.
I have found pure bliss and tranquility at this place. I am at peace.
No matter how hard I work, no matter how tired I may get from this experience it is worth the dirt under my fingernails and the calluses on my feet. I have a purpose here. I feel as if part of a revolution on young people dedicated to the idea that in farming, we can do better. Chemicals, herbicides, fungicides and nasty growth hormones scare me, it is becoming part of our society and I will not stand by quietly. GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) which have been implemented into commercial seeds, grains for animals and the plants themselves will not be our undoing.
I will use the vast knowledge I have gained here and will apply it to my future. My next journey is my two and a half year Peace Corps placement in Zambia as a Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Agent for the LIFE Project; Linking Income and Food in the Environment. The work that I have accomplished here at Barberry Hill Farm and the inspiring generosity and wisdom of Kelly and Kingsley Goddard will carry me forward in this next chapter of my life.