I recently spent a full week living and working on a newly certified organic farm in Willamina, Oregon. According to my friends, it's apparently not surprising that I decided to spontaneously take a week off work to take up farm life. I, however, am surprised that it took me 23 years to actually fulfill this expectation.
On a whim one day I messaged a dear friend from college and asked her if she'd ever thought about WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and if she'd like to travel with me sometime to try it out. As my friend is currently hammering out grad school, the only vacation time she could afford to take was a week during her summer break. Within five days we had both signed up at wwoofusa.org and had a farm in Oregon expecting our arrival a month and a half later.
I knew I had farm in my blood many years ago but I really didn't expect to fall in hopeless love with the lifestyle the second I stepped on the farm—a feeling that never dwindled throughout my stay at Roshambo Art Farm. It truly is remarkable to go from a life of constant floods of emails, text messages, phone calls, and social media distractions to a life of utter simplicity. Granted, I am fully aware that owning and running a farm is by no means simple—my role on the farm was simple.
Our main task for the week was from start to finish planting an orchard of cider apple trees. 600 apple trees including over 50 different species of apples, some with made up names like Curmudgeon Crab. The entire process involved grafting and fertilizing the trees, preparing the holes by weeding invasive grass rhizomes (if this had been a conventional farm instead of an organic one this would have been taken care of with RoundUp), planting the newly grafted trees, and transplanting some already growing trees.
Other tasks included clipping the hooves of the farm's rescued Jacob Sheep and feeding the small herd of alpacas. Every day ended with a family-style home cooked meal either by myself, the owners of the farm (a lovely married couple), or the other two WWOOFers staying at the farm while we were there. "Farm Dad" Dan—lucky for us—makes incredible wine and cider and would supply dinner with several bottles each evening. When bellies were full of pork and wine, my friend and I would walk with starry eyes through the massive grassy field that separated the main farm house from our absurdly charming one-room cabin.
Would I WWOOF again? Absolutely, 100%, A+, gold stars for everyone. Not only is it an incredibly cheap way to travel domestically or internationally, it connects all sorts of rad folks who can get their hands dirty in some farm work together.