22 August 2010
Taylor Creek Farm - summer part 3
I don't know where to begin as I recount my experience WWOOF'ing for the first time. My friend, Danielle, and I spent two weeks WWOOF'ing at a farm in Northern California back in June/July. It was a great experience, one where I met wonderful people, experienced new things, a new environment, a new way of living, and where I got closer to nature. Northern California is such a completely different world than Southern California. I don't think one has experienced true NorCal until they've gone past Sacramento. It was a land of hippies, truly. I completely fell in love with it and relished in my new environment. I feel like NorCal-ians' way of living is so much more plentiful, not in terms of material possessions, but rather a more wholesome and simpler way of living. The air was so clean and fresh, the trees abundant and green, the mountains majestic, and the rivers pristine. The farm was located atop a mountain, which was such a long and windy drive to get to (a one-lane dirt road with no barriers to prevent us from going down the cliff) that Danielle and I were completely out of it by the time we arrived at the farm, not to mention as well that we had been traveling for over a week prior and were completely exhausted. Thankfully, the drive up to the farm was scenic enough to get my mind off puking with the roaring river flowing parallel to the road and a view of the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
We were met at the farm by Element, a fellow wwoofer and a local to NorCal, who had been there for the past two weeks prior to our arrival and who introduced us to August, whose family owned the property and farm. We also met August's brother, Rocky, and his friends Michael and Sunny. I also can't forget to mention Red, who is quite a character and who deems himself a true mountain man and to whom Danielle and I are known to him as "flat footers" from the valley. In the next days, we met the entire family and by the 4th of July we made connections and friends who we still keep in touch with to this day. I met some of the most kindest and warm-hearted people during our stay at the farm. They all had their own stories to tell and they were an experience in and of themselves.
Most days at the farm were spent helping prepare for the big 4th of July celebration, a tradition that the family does every year for friends and family and near-by neighbors. Great times were had on the 4th. It was a night filled with celebration, relaxation, playing with the kids, good food and beer, live music, campfires, and a fantastic display of fireworks against the backdrop of majestic pine trees and the celestial night sky. It was wonderful being a part of such a tight-knit and special event.
After the 4th, days were spent doing work in the garden, relaxing in the hammock, reading on the grass, petting wild horses, strawberry picking, hiking in the mountains, dipping in the river, sun-bathing on the barge, swimming in the glorious swimming hole (indeed, August did not lie about the swimming hole he had mentioned in his e-mails), and sweating our asses off in the sun and shade (the humidity was unavoidable). Nights were spent with wholesome dinners at the house, board games, star-gazing on the grass, and sleeping soundly with a view of the stars and the fresh mountain air breeze flowing through the windows. By the last week of our stay, I no longer felt like an outsider; I felt truly at home at the farm.
Our final days were bittersweet. We celebrated August's 31st birthday and said our goodbyes to fellow friends who had made the trek up for the 4th and had stayed a couple nights at the farm. Element and I also became close as we both got to share each of our stories and connect in the process. It was a beautiful experience, and I hope to keep in touch with him.
Well, there you have it. That was my experience wwoofing and I hope it was enjoyable to read as much as it was enjoyable for me to write. Taylor Creek Farm and the experiences had there hold a special place in my memory. In addition to my interest and studies in sustainable food systems, living at a farm in Northern California has definitely inspired me to pursue sustainability not just in food, but in everyday life. My experiences at the farm have also solved my academic dilemma (art or agriculture?) and lead me to decide to start a life of farming up north in the near future. I also now have a newfound appreciation for natural environments. I especially miss the view of the mountains and the tall, majestic trees. Being stuck in Southern California amid the L.A. smog and a congested way of life has me yearning for the land up north. Journeys up north are in my future and I cannot wait until the day I go back.
View more pictures of the farm here.