Wednesday, May 27, 2009

wwoofing in washington

This week we began our first venture into WWOOFing. For those of you not in the know, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is an organization that brings together farmers with those who are interested for an exchange. The WWOOFers work a moderate amount (20-25 hours/week) in return for housing and food. Alex and I have been wanting to WWOOF for a while now, and it seemed like this Big American Road Trip was the time to do it.

We choose to WWOOF with Alma and Lou of Port Townsend, Washington because they live in a beautiful place, they expected less than five hours of work a day, and because they answered our inquiry with incredible speed. We arrived at their home after driving straight through from Sonora, Alex's home town. They welcomed us with incredible hospitality, with never-ending portions of delicious organic food filling our plates as soon as they were emptied.

They put us up in their renovated garage, where we slept on our air mattress overlooking Puget Sound and the everlasting northern summer sunsets. During our days we helped Alma with the starting of her demonstration garden, something she wants to set up to show her community how to turn their lawns into productive food. She is setting up a no-tilling no-weeding garden, where you layer organic material (cardboard, then compost, then grass clippings, then mulch) which keeps out weeds. You just plant the seeds in this layering system, water, grow, pick, serve and repeat.

At Alma's house we also met Jay, her mentor and handyman. He has been growing his own no-till garden for a decade now, and says he still feels like a baby every season he starts growing again, realizing how little he really knows. To us, he seemed like the enlightened one. The information flowed out of him like a waterfall during the season's snow melt. The vastness of our ignorance about how to provide for ourselves is astounding.

What we know now, after this week, is that you can't really know anything about growing until you do it, and that it's different everywhere you do. There are so many variations in wind levels and sun and types of soil and first thaws and first freezes. Which means we're REALLY not going to know anything about until we buy some land (1/2 an acre or so is all we'd need), and put down some roots.

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