About two weeks ago, we left the awesome comfort and ease of being with family in Long Beach and ventured off on our own to the teeny tiny absolutely gorgeous town of Occidental, up in Northern California, to volunteer on our first WWOOF farm. Our wild and eccentric host picked us up at the Monte Rio bus stop in her old rusty car with two Field Spaniels poking their heads out the car windows. She welcomed us with a big smile and drove us through the winding forest roads to her amazing property, not too far off. We had a pretty interesting and educational time there and met some really great WWOOFers, who filled us in on the WWOOFing do’s and dont’s. We worked pretty damn hard, about six hours a day, but ate like vegan kings and got to play pretty hard too as we were there over the 4th of July holiday. We camped up on the hill in the Redwoods and got to hang out with some really sweet little sheep, a couple of aggressive goats and a rather amusing and awesome llama. While we were there we got to work on projects like weeding, clearing pathways, building a Barn Owl House, compost toilets, transplanting, watering and some other stuff. If there’s any criticism we could give, we would have liked some more explicitly given free time to do what we wanted instead of having to ask, and we are not sure that you could actually call it a “permaculture” farm – it is more of a homestead that applies some organic and permaculture principles to it.
A highlight was definitely getting to visit the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center for two days, where we learned so much about planting and some basic permaculture principles. OAEC is seriously like a little piece of paradise. Their gardens are amazing with all kinds of plants from strawberries, apple trees and veggies to a wide spectrum of herbs and medicinal plants. There are these amazing little yurts where people sleep and about three main gardens plus a nursery. Apparently it’s an intentional community, with a couple families who live there together. They are all about permaculture and sustainability and, on volunteer days (when we were there), they give out a free, mostly vegan buffet lunch, made with food from the garden. Everyone was super friendly and seemed to know so much about every plant on the property. We also met some really interesting, open minded people there. Another highlight was getting to visit Bodega Bay, a beautiful stretch of coastline.
So, from our week’s worth of WWOOF experience, we can honestly say it’s an adventure. You just don’t know who you will meet, what your sleeping arrangements will be like, what kind of food you will be exposed to and what type of work you will end up doing.
If you go looking for adventure, you are sure to find it.
Trying to find the Old Growth Redwood Grove.
The medicinal garden.
Breakfast vibes with our fellow WWOOFer, Zellie, from France.
Cosmo the llama.
Plum harvesting and the aggressive goats.
Mung Dhall and Chickpea Salad for dinner.
Tried out salt water taffy for the first time.