Taking a break doesn’t necessarily have to involve booking a campsite or renting a cottage somewhere. Beatriz volunteered on a farm in Canada.
House swapping, house sitting, volunteering abroad in exchange for board and lodging: it’s nothing new, but the Internet has made it far simpler for us to get in touch with others worldwide and find such opportunities. Beatriz Gomes and her boyfriend (now husband) spent a month on a farm in Canada via Wwoof.net, a platform that connects volunteers and organic farmers all around the world.
“We were traveling through North and South America and in between we wanted to do something active in nature. That’s how we ended up on an organic farm in Canada, where we worked for board and lodging. That month was really the highlight of our trip. From early morning until mid-afternoon we worked with the farmer’s wife: watering, weeding, sowing, harvesting. Doing it all by hand, using no harmful fertilizers. It was so laborious. Now that I’ve done this, I’m actually surprised that organic fruits and vegetables are not far more expensive.
My first job on the farm was watering the peppers but the problem was that I didn’t actually know what they looked like. Thankfully they had a label with ‘bell pepper’ on it, otherwise I would have had no idea which plant it was. I learned so much in those few weeks on the farm. I was so proud later, when a photo of the beautiful large tomatoes that I had sown arrived in my inbox.
A special bond
We had great talks about organic farming and the challenges of working without chemicals. After work the farmer’s wife took us to the waterfalls, nearby farms or the organic market. And in the evenings we cooked together, simple but delicious food. Everything was fresh from the land. Because we worked together so intensively, we developed a special bond.
Now, three years later, we’re still in touch. We call each other at Christmas and on birthdays. I think the great thing was that it really was an exchange: we had a special experience and the farmer’s wife was happy with the extra pairs of hands. We really made a contribution.”
- More stories about a different kind of travelling can be found in Issue 34.
Text Anneke Bots Photography Pete Nuij/Unsplash.com