Lucinda's WWOOFing Trip 2016: Day One.
I managed to get away on a Saturday morning so I could get a good start on my WWOOFing adventure. I realized when I got there , that we were going to be doing some slacking off for the weekend as they had been working nonstop all week. So I met up with Barb Hazenveld who is a leader in the permaculture industry; she's a designer as well as a permaculture instructor, she has an expansive garden, as well as various animals and bees. Barb co- created and teaches at the permaculture convergence in Turner Valley and she teaches various courses throughout Alberta. She regularly hosts wwoofers on her farm to help out. (wwoofer- willing worker on organic farms). These workers come from all over the world to learn from Barb as well as work on her farm. It's a work exchange where they get room and board in exchange for working and learning at the same time. I was here to be one, to work and to learn from Barb. My role was to do some food preservation, to help with harvest and to do some basic work on the farm. I am a big believer that health starts with real food and nutrition is the building blocks to our health.
Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.
We started out our Saturday by going to the Millerville fair - it was like a giant farmers' market and they also had some events like the draft horse pull. After that was over we headed back to her place to jump in the river and have a good swim and cool off after a hot day. The neighbors were at the river swimming as well and assumed I was from Sweden (blonde hair)... I spent the next 3 days attempting to fake an accent. It was unusual to see a "local" WWOOFer.
Day 2 - Sunday
I started my morning out by mowing the farm which was quite a large area. The family was still in "weekend mode" and so we headed to the Bar-U ranch. We ended up finding a rodeo going on. The other wwoofer was from Austria and had never seen a rodeo before, so that was a good cultural experience for her. When wwoofers are working for Barb she tends to take them traveling around on their days off so that they can see some of Alberta and learn about our culture. After the ranch we headed to something called "Longstock" which was a music festival in Longview. I took some beautiful photos along the way as I saw some beautiful areas of Alberta. We harvested from her garden for our supper.
Day 3- Monday
We actually buckled down to do some work. Barb had to run into the city and left us with a long work list. Before she left we set out some strawberry runners that she had posted for free on a local Facebook page. When the people came they stole the buckets! This is a precious commodity on the farm... According to Barb, a good WWOOFer shouts "Don't take the F-ing buckets!!" ...now I know for next time! We did some harvesting, fed the animals, made a pot of tomato pasta sauce with some tomatoes that had been harvested as well as some onions from the garden. Then we created a Calendula infusion with the dried flowers and oil. It would be left in the sunshine to infuse the calendula oil to be used as a lotion.
Earlier in the day I had harvested some dandelion greens to make Barb's amazing dandelion pesto. There are many uses for dandelions...
Most of us fight the dandelions and discard into the weed pile. I can tell you that next spring I will be saving all of my dandelion greens to make some of this amazing pesto! Dandelions are a wonderful way to cleanse your system and detoxify your liver. The ingredients that we mix with them, (some olive oil etc.) just added to the nutrient value of this pesto. I was excited about the thought of using what some considered a weed to make a delicious, nutritious and detoxifying dish. Most definitely a recipe I will be using!
We harvested some beets for a project we were doing the next day. We processed the beet tops by blanching, chopping and freezing them. Nothing is wasted at this farm as she has chickens and rabbits and they eat the extras. Anything the animals wouldn't eat gets put into the compost. There is zero waste and it is a very efficiently run process. We did a variety of things throughout the day including harvesting, weeding, clean up and canning. In the evening we were invited to a potluck. Wonderful people put on the potluck, the gentleman's name is Larry and he is a retired university professor that teaches sustainability. They live on an amazing farm up the hill from Turner Valley. The potluck was spectacular with home-grown food including roasted lamb from their farm. The garden tour was so great - it is fascinating to see such a great set up based on sustainable food. It included sheep, chickens and large garden areas. The hostess was a retired university art professor- she used garden refuse to create art projects, like homemade paper and landscape designs. We spent an amazing evening enjoying their company and some gin from the local distillery.
Day 3 - Tuesday. It started out very rainy which was OK since our plan was to work in the kitchen until I had to head home. We finished using the tomatoes and onions and made more sauce for the coming year. We processed the beets starting with a ferment using beets and ginger. We placed these into a jar under a brine to sit for 2-3 weeks to ferment. I was excited to be able to show Barb as this is a recipe that I use in my classes when I teach food fermentation. It is light and crispy- zingy delicious. The remainder of the beets we blanched. There was some debate over whether they should be peeled or not. I have always peeled my beets however it's probably similar to a potato where the nutrient value is also held in the peels. We blanched and float froze the remainder of the beets. There were some apples that it come from BC that were a little bit past their prime so we blended, strained and juiced these to start an apple cider vinegar (another ferment!). We processed rhubarb wine that was almost ready to be bottled that Barb had started back in June. And of course we continued making dandelion pesto with the remainder of our ingredients.
I packed up to head home so much wiser and with a van full of some dill, raw honey and some plants to plant in my garden for next year. All together WOOFing was an amazing experience especially with someone as knowledgeable and wise as Barb Hazenveld. The experience of being able to go work on an organic farm to help with harvest as well as the work that was included in running a farm of such magnitude, to learn some sustainability and self sufficient practices was amazing. I am so happy I was able to share all of my experiences with you via this blog! I will be posting recipes over the next couple weeks and adding some recipes into next week's newsletter as well. Thanks for coming along on this journey with me!
(I should add that it is not easy for me to get away to have an experience like this one- I run a non profit (this is the busy time of year), I have 2 kids, 2 dogs and a household to run. It took a TEAM to allow me to go. Thanks to my team!!)