Blue Sky Farm is, in my mind, the best example of how a WWOOF experience can and should be. The organic, off the grid farm is situated in beautiful Redwood forests in the mountains of Mendocino County, Northern California. It is a really beautiful place. Entering a Redwood forest is something that you have to experience at least once. It feels like the air changes; like the trees are more animate and alive than they seem. Laura and Andreas have been creating their homestead for over eight years now, and we honestly feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to help them get closer to their goal. They mostly grow fruit, vegetables and herbs. We were there for a month with another WWOOFer from Florida, Nicki.
Our accommodation was inside a beautiful wooden cabin that will one day be their home. So far, only the outer shell has been built. We got to sleep on a double bed, and just zipped our sleeping bags together to make a duvet. It was super comfortable. Close to the cabin was the communal cooking area, an outdoor shower, and an outhouse (outdoor toilet). The farm is completely off the grid; electricity being created by solar panels, and water coming from a well. We saw chipmunks pretty often, a couple scorpions, deer, and a tarantula. Other wildlife in the area includes coyotes, bobcats, black bears, mountain lions, and snakes, but we didn’t see any of them.
In contrast to the previous WWOOF farm we worked on, Laura tried to make the work ratio as fair as possible. We only had to work three to four hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation, so we had a lot of free time to read, chill, hike, or do whatever we wanted. With our hosts working full time jobs as well as running the farm, on weekends we would work a bit longer with them. Work included, but wasn’t limited to: watering, planting, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, digging holes, digging beds on contour, amending beds, and putting in t-stakes. We also just often helped out with whatever else needed to be done. Laura tried to keep it as diverse as possible for us, which I really appreciated. Our hosts were constantly showing and teaching us how and why to do things.
Cara and I are vegan, and make sure before we go to a farm, that it is okay with them. At Blue Sky Farm, they not only embraced us with our diets, but also went vegan for most of the time we were there. Can we just have a moment of silence for people like this please. I was humbled. Each of us shared food-making duties, rotating dinner and lunch responsibilities, and most meals were shared, with stimulating conversation. I honestly suck at cooking (I’m more of a baker), but I actually managed to make some palatable meals, and learned some things. Cara owned; she busted out her tofu scramble, her chickpea and mushroom curry, and a few other really tasty meals. The food was always tasty, nutritious, organic, and always included food straight from the garden. There was also often cold herbal tea. Once a week we would make granola, which we would have for breakfast everyday, and there was always non-dairy milk and often non-dairy yogurt available. I think I made four cakes while I was there; vanilla with coffee icing, vanilla with lemon icing, chocolate with chocolate icing, and vanilla with huckleberry icing (which we harvested ourselves). On my birthday, Sergio, a friend of our hosts, got two cakes, one of them vegan, and we had vegan s’mores around a fire. It was awesome.
We weren’t always on the farm though. Once a week we would go to town, which meant a full day in either Ukiah, Mendocino or Fort Bragg. We went to a small local festival in Casper. We went sea kayaking among rocks and caves along the Mendocino coastline, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. We went to Orr Hot Springs a few times, which was really fun. It was clothing optional, and was a liberating experience for us. The naked human body is nothing to be ashamed of. We went hiking twice in Montgomery Woods, a huge Redwood forest that contains massive old growth trees. Apparently it contains the second tallest Redwood tree in the world, which was once the tallest, but National Geographic won’t tell people where it is, for obvious reasons. Montgomery Woods is one of the most incredible places I have ever been in my life, hands down. Twice on the farm we got to be part of a drum circle that our hosts invite some friends to sometimes, and pretty much just played bongo and djembe drums around the fire with cool people all night. Being a drummer, it was something I really enjoyed. Oh and we played this game called “21” after dinner sometimes; ask us to show you if you ever hang out with us.
Laura and Andreas are two of the hardest working, loving, considerate, compassionate, kind, generous, patient, dedicated, gentle and fun people that you could ever meet. Their two cats, Bug and Anime, are beautiful, and were part of our time there every day. Laura is vegetarian, something that we related well with her on. We even related on music, ethics and politics with them. They made such an effort to make sure we were happy, and it didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. We couldn’t have hoped for better hosts, and we would definitely go back. Blue Sky Farm is the reason why I would recommend WWOOFing.
The morning’s harvest
S’mores for my birthday
Harvesting and cleaning huckleberries
Words by Pete. (Most) Photos by Cara.