Who would want to WWOOF in MO, USA?
Nov. 9, 2012 12:10 pm
Updated: Nov. 16, 2012 7:11 pm
Colorado. Oregon. Wyoming. Now they might be among some of my first picks. But Missouri? And it really wouldn't be WWOOFing here at my house, it would be WWOOGing. Who in the world would want to WWOOG in a state that can equal the humidity
of New Orleans and the weather can give you plenty to talk about because you just never know what your season will bring you. I do the Ging part here all the time but this is where I live!
What the heck am I talking about? World Wide
Opportunities on Organic Farms and I leaned about it in an article "Postcards from the Veg" by Amanda Kimble-Evans in the Organic Gardening magazine. Originally the program was called Weekend Workers on Organic Farms
and originated in England. It was a way to get city folk out on the farms for a weekend lending a helping hand on organic farms in exchange for food, lodging and a chance to learn about where their food comes from. According to the article, WWOOF has 90 countries
now involved with 6, 000 hosts providing a way for farmers and volunteers to connect. There is also a WWOOF-USA. There is a name for having this type of working vacation, agro-tourism. Can you imagine going to Italy or France and joining a family to work on
their farm, to see how things are done? A lady mentioned in the article had gone to Italy and stayed on several Italian farms. She wanted to connect with her ancestral roots. Another gentleman traveled to New Zealand. He spoke of forging memories, learning
new skills and finding a passion for gardening. For those of us non-fliers staying stateside sounds like a good idea to me. But Missouri? And like I said it would definitely be gardening here at my house and not farming.
Yeah, yeah this is a working vacation but to me it sounds like a fabulous idea. Granted I am a little odd in my notions of what a vacation should consist of. Me, I want friends or newly made friends, good food and something fun to do. Again, my ideas of fun
are odd. I do like the outdoors but I am tired of having crappy vacations. I have been to Sturgis for a trip that makes people giggle hysterically when they see the pictures and hear how it went. After they stop laughing they look at me and maybe wonder how
my spouse managed to talk me into going on another motorcycle trip with a sidecar and my son. We had a blow out riding down the highway at 75 on that one. I have been hit by lightening on the dunes of Colorado. I once thought we had lost my son while 4 wheeling
on the Paiute Trail in Utah. We were in the middle of NOWHERE with NO cell service. That was my last vacation with the family.
Come on, fess up! Is there anyone that wouldn't like to stay at petey's and see her life and critters first hand? Oh man, I could learn so much from her and I am a willing worker. Except for the butchering part. I admit being able to do that would be so hard
for me and I am not a vegetarian. Weeding and learning how to make cheese and soap would really be more my speed.
Back to me and Missouri. When I saw that people were traveling to help out on farms in exchange for education and seeing where their food comes from, I wished I had an interesting enough place for someone to want to come to help. I could really use an extra
pair of helping hands but I don't have a farm and I don't have beautiful vistas to gaze at. I just have lots of gardens. My ability to share good gardening knowledge some might say is debatable, myself included, but I'm always confident I can tell you what
not to do! The mistakes I have made in the gardens are too numerous to count. I did have 2 interesting successes this year. One because I've been trying to grow a "salad bowl" for several years and failed but this year I tried something different and TA DA!
Some of those greens were served at the mini MO. That's zucchini next to my lettuce mix. I have horrid squash bugs here so I wondered what would happen if I put my squash in a container. I could control its environment better.
That is celery. When I saw, where ever it was, about re-growing certain plants from the root ends I just had to try.
I do love to chat while weeding. It makes, to me, a tedious task go by faster and I will happily talk about the plants we are working around and what you can do with them. Just ask some of the girls I've been able to hire in the past. One of them was kind enough
to say she always learned something while here. To have someone here for a week working with me and sharing food at my table would be such a boon to me. We might have to send the DH &DS to Subway but why not after spending a day in my gardens couldn't we have
a nice meal from what it can offer? A rustic gratin of potatoes, tomatoes, onions and cheese served with a nice homemade loaf of bread. I can grow 3 of those things. Figured out juicing those blackberry brandy leftovers make a much better seed free dessert
so we could have a really nice easy ice cream. We could go fishing in the pond out back for our main course. After dinner we could sit outside and just enjoy conversation in the nice country quiet. Certainly not fast paced or exciting but it sounds like a
good time to me!
Another article which was in the Kansas City Star about the lack of urban grocery stores made me really wish I could WWOOG here at my house. One mother featured in the story lived in a neighborhood lacking in convenient grocery stores but rift with fast food
places. She didn't have a car to go to the grocery store but had to walk and then carry home groceries with very small children in tow. She spoke of how her food choices were limited. Once the children wanted to purchase a watermelon but she was afraid the
distance they had to carry it would be too much for them since she couldn't carry milk and the watermelon. There were other similar stories. I knwo what these people really needed was decent transportation but it certainly would help them out if they could
grow some produce for themselves. I know renters or apartment dwellers might not be able to actually have a garden plot or fruit trees but they could container garden. At the very least that could give them cherry tomatoes and herbs.
Food matters to me a lot. Fresh food grown without pesticides or herbicides. All of that is important to me and I couldn't help thinking maybe these people just don't know they can grow some produce for themselves. I grew up in the suburbs but we always had
a garden and fruit trees. My grandfather farmed for a living. My townie grandma, Mom's mom, always had a garden and fruit trees. Something else occurred to me. What if I could share my cooking knowledge with those who didn't have the opportunity to learn from
one of the best thrifty home cooks like I did? With today's food costs and the economy as it is, knowing how to prepare an affordable nutritious yet good tasting meal is important. Again, I don't know everything but I keep learning new things all the time!
Long before reading either article I simply wished for a pair of helping hands in my gardens. There is so much to do here and the team of me, myself and I get overwhelmed sometimes. There are plenty of varieties to sample from here, so a newbie could taste
and choose before buying seed or plants and they could see how they grow.
In the tomatoes, Black Krim is my favorite but it is such a pill here in MO. Very fussy about its conditions but the flavor is outstanding. Like a fine wine. Same with Wolf River, if the conditions aren't right the apples rot on the tree. If the planets align
correctly you get these.
The Krim is in the middle. The rest are just an assortment I like to grow. I love the different flavors they all have.
Wolf is huge with outstanding flavor. The other normal sized fruits are Asian pear, Winesap, Fameuse, Granny Smith and Red Delicious. Love those Asian pears; they netted me a great gift!
Herbs in a pot. There is basil, saltwort and bay.
Can you see how dark the "soil" is? I read that spraying your basil with a coffee solution can keep some pests at bay. My morning coffee is cold brewed in a French press. I just pour the dregs from my French press onto my potted herbs. Does it help? I don't
honestly know but I know it doesn't hurt and it seems to keep those horrid little gnawing gnats from eating my plants.
This year anyone coming here after June 13th would have learned about watering and water conservation. those herbs weren't stacked just to get into the photo. I stack pots so the top one drains into the next pot instead of onto the pavement or ground.
That is my beloved workhorse loaded up. I fill up my water barrel and away I go.
That black thing is a soaker hose. I use the green one as an extension to get where I need to go. It
came to me after the DH's failed attempt at attaching the soaker hose to the barrel to use a siphoning method hence the rock zip tied on. It anchors my siphoning hose in the bottom of the barrel. For those kind enough to wish me a Happy Birthday earlier this
year, I could almost feel the "?'s" forming when I said I'd been watering and was going out for another round. You see it takes a while to fill the barrel and use the soaker. Plus, the soaker hose doesn't work everywhere so I had to use 5 gal buckets with
holes drilled in the bottom around my parched fruit trees. Yes, it takes time and when I had finished one section it would be time to start back at the beginning. It was really dry here all summer. We had a rain once and when I walked through the mud, I left
my footprints on the driveway. They were there until September when we finally got rain.
Despite the drought, my fruit trees were loaded. My dear Asian pear gave me a good crop. Way too many for me and I couldn't let them go to waste so I called people to share my bounty. One dear lady, a fellow Master Gardener, offered to pay me for them. I said
I didn't want money but time would be nice. I really didn't think she would take me up on that because who has time? Here though, even for 45 mintues another pair of hands would be nice to have in lieu of payment.
She said she would call and arrange a time.
And she did! Not once but twice. The first time I was getting ready to go to Nashville so I was the one with no time. Yet, she persevered till she found a mutually agreeable time and spent several hours pulling weeds here. That is her in the background. I am
very grateful for her help and happy I could share my fruitful bounty with her. Thank you!!
It's not just about having help in the gardens either but how gardens or farms can truly help others. Not just with food but physically and emotionally. Around the time I was reading the articles I've told you about, I saw another about a veteran that returned
from Iraq with multiple problems. He and his wife ended up back on his parent's farm. There he started growing blueberries. He noticed physical and mental improvements after working the land for a year and a half. Figuring if he benefited so could other fellow
vets. With help from the non profit organization Work Vessels for Veterans, he purchased Veterans Farm. Here the challenges of farming help others like him while teaching another set of skills and giving them a place to share their stories.
My dad was a veteran and he helped me put in my very first garden. I used to wonder why, when he didn't have to, he spent so much time in his garden. Having spent so much time in mine, I believe I know the answer. There is something about the growing of things
and turning of soil, seeing and feeling nature that soothes the mind and nurtures the body.
I hope you enjoyed today's journey through my garden and into my kitchen. Until next time, may your garden whatever size it may be help set your table.