I tried to stop by the farm as much as possible before I left, and took my sister to the last Eleven Forks dinner of the season. We made shortbread cookies with homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam; as well as, radish crostinis. For the radish crostinis I toasted sliced baguettes with the olive oil I produced in Italy, then spread a soft Swiss cheese over top, and top the bread with very thinly sliced radishes that have been tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic. And finally, I garnish them with arugula and mizuna (and in the summer, I also add squash blossoms).
So many things are growing at the farm right now! Squash, cucumbers, and Kale were all transplanted a couple of weeks ago and the greens that were direct seeded are coming up strong. There’s some radishes and beets coming up too, and as always the garlic is getting even bigger! Today I direct seeded beets, radishes, arugula, and some other greens, while Ric roto-tilled and tended to the garlic, and Christie got some plants ready for the swap in the morning. I’m very excited to see what everyone brings to swap and sell tomorrow morning. Oh and we got some ducks!
Kombucha, 11 Forks, and Seedlings Outgrowing their Homes
This weekend was packed full of activities at the farm. Early Saturday morning we went to a Kombucha class at the Upper Room Studio in Berlin taught by the Lilleys. They offer both free and paid classes on a range of activities. I highly reccomend looking into the classes they offer http://www.ourupperroomstudio.com/
After the class we set up for the Eleven Forks Dinner; the first of the season. That night the entire community was invited to join us in this pot-luck style party. There was a huge turnout of at least 50 people, with tons of food, beautiful flower arrangements, and live music.
Sunday was a pretty busy day with a huge turnout of volunteers and their puppies. We weeded the fields, and transplanted kale, summer squash, and cucumber plants from the hoop house to the ground.
Shout Out to the Team
For our first few weeks of volunteering at The Good Farm we had a core group of volunteers. There are quickly becoming more and more people each week, but I wanted to share this picture with everyone of the wwoofers who were here. Jessica is from Iowa and was here for a few months. She just recently traveled back to Iowa, and we miss her very much. Travis and Lauren were from Reno, Nevada, and were here for a week with their 2 cats. They will most likely be living in the wilderness this summer. Pictured from left to right, back row, Jessica, Christie, Travis, Emily, Isaac, front row, Ric and Lauren. Christie and Ric are in charge of the farm, which is located at Mariner’s Country Downs. Reggie Mariner is also a valuable member of the team, and does all of the construction projects.
Our New Venture
After we finally settled into a new home upon returning from Italy, we felt the need to start supporting our local agriculture community in the Ocean City/Berlin, Maryland area. We originally looked into buying a share in a traditional CSA, but through one thing or another have now ended up in a more non-traditional CSA environment. CSA, or community supported agriculture, allows individuals or families to buy shares of a farms crop for the season. For example we would pay $300 in advance for a basket of produce received weekly straight from the farm during the season of May-October. Not only would this give us a discounted rate on produce, but would also give the local farmer financial support during a time of year when they are usually making the least amount of money. That aside, we decided to go the untraditional route, and have begun volunteering on a farm in exchange for produce, and whatever else comes along. The farm actually participates in the US chapter of Wwoof, but since we live only 15 minutes away, we are not fully wwoofing this time around. We help when we can, and take what we need. Our goals for the season are to learn to water bath can, pressure can, pickle, jam, etc… We also want to learn more about harvesting our own honey, and butchering some chickens. So far we have spent our days planting seeds, both directly in the ground and in seed trays; as well as, watering, building a trellis among other things, and learning a great deal about the process of a farm. The sprouts are beginning to come up and the garlic has been strong for months now. Tomorrow is our first community dinner of the season, along with a Kombucha seminar, and a very busy Sunday to follow.
WWOOF Italia Conclusion/Information
I’ve been receiving emails from a lot of people interested in more information about wwoofing, so I wanted to reiterate my contact information here, as well as sum up the farms we went to and the resources we used to plan our trip.
Wwoof stands for World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming, and has been around for decades. It is important to know that each country has its own organization, with some of the smaller countries joining together to create a larger group.
We started planning our trip using the Wwoof Italy website, both became members, and received our ID cards (some countries require you to have Wwoof ID cards on you at all times). Then we sorted through the list of farms we were sent and chose several to email. After sending out about 15 separate (never send one email out to multiple farms) emails we began correspondence with 5-6, and worked out an arrival date with 2. Then we began researching, and also set up a price alert on the flight we needed on Kayak.com so that we would get our tickets at the lowest possible amount.
I highly recommend the Beers and Beans Travel Blog’s Essential Wwoofing Pack List, and their other entries on their wwoofing experience. http://beersandbeans.com/2011/03/02/the-essential-wwoofing-pack-list/
I also reccomend that you ask as many questions as possible to your future host families, including inquiries about what you will eat, where you will sleep, and what your work schedule will be. And definitely ask what you will be able to do on days off, or if you get days off.
This is the list of farms we volunteered at, in order. I definitely suggest all of these farms to anyone else, but they are all very different so email be about more information if you are thinking about going to one.
Colombaia. Very close to Siena and fairly close to Florence. Natural Wine Vineyard.
Castello di Potentino. In the Grossetto area. Vineyard and Olive Grove.
Podere Marco Polo. Also in the Grosetto area, located in Pitigliano, my favorite city we visited. Olive Grove.
My contact is email@example.com
The Wwoof Website for Italy is http://www.wwoof.it/en/
The Wwoof website for the USA, which I am also a member of now is http://www.wwoofusa.org/
Our Last Day at Marco Polo
Nika and Sandro’s Wine (Plus the other Roberto)
After lunch on our last day we all walked down the street to a good friend of our hosts and their guests. His name is also Roberto and he specializes in essential oils and herbs. He also dug a cave under his house to make wine in. Nika and Sandro showed us the wine cellar and walked us through the steps they follow to create their wine here at Roberto’s. Roberto was kind enough to also make us chai tea, and we got to meet the mother and sister of one of the dogs that lived with us at Marco Polo.
Tour of the House
Today we had a large gathering with an Italian actor as our guest of honor. He fell madly in love with our new wwoofer Diana, and wants to take her on a date tomorrow. We will see! We spent the morning picking but then it began to rain so we came inside and prepared olives, met Vittorio, and watched him prepare mushrooms he had foraged in the morning.
The New Wwoofer is Here!!
Diana has arrived. She is beautiful and so much fun and reminds me of all of my friends at home rolled into one. We are all having an amazing time together, Isaac is enjoying girl talking, but mostly listens to audiobooks when we are picking because he doesn’t want to listen to us gab. We made brunch together the other day for everyone, and olives today. We all went to Pitigliano together too, and saw the cinghiales that have been preserved, the duomo, and the view again.
Isaac Makes Tomatoes
We went to a small lake town yesterday afternoon because it was still to wet to pick olives. Lake Balsena is fairly large, and the town accompanying it is very lively in the summer. It was once a castle I think. We had a quiet walk through town and down to the shore. Emanuela and Roberto showed us a spikey fruit that we ate.