Here’s is a funny story: even though I volunteered on farms in Turkey, I have never thought about doing it here in British Columbia, my home province. In Turkey, I worked on mulberry orchards and tea plantations, while learning Turkish and getting to know local people and places. I had a great time. So why not here? In search of a new experience closer to home, I signed up on WWOOF.ca.
The farm where I volunteered in Oliver, B.C.
Kale, sake, and river swimming
This May and early June, thanks to WWOOF Canada, I volunteered on a farm in Oliver, British Columbia. The farm grows organic vegetables to sell in local stores. I picked kale and chard, and washed and bagged lettuce and spinach.
I also helped in the greenhouse and transplanted new plants into the ground. Plus, there was a family of goats, 20 chickens, and two pigs to feed and visit.
Hanging out in the goat pen
On this farm, there were between six and eight volunteers from different provinces and countries. Some lived in trailers on the property, and others in tents, like me. We had amazing meals, usually with ingredients fresh from the farm. The farm owner usually cooked dinner, including specialties from his Japanese heritage, including sake and raw prawns – a delicious first for me.
WWOOFing gave me the chance to explore the region, too. I tasted some great wines that the southern Okanagan region is famous for. I swam in the Okanagan River, which is being restored toward its original complexity with direction from the Okanagan Nation Alliance. The sage, acacia trees, and funny quail birds stood out, and they are so different from coastal British Columbia.
WWOOF, in case you were curious, stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. In exchange for approximately five hours of daily work, volunteers get accommodation, meals, and some education on farming practices.
In a conversation, Katya referred to WWOOFing as “active rest”. I love this term. It summarized my experience really well. I enjoyed the physical activity during the day, and found it restful for my mind and spirit.
The beautiful Okanagan River
Whether you are interested in agriculture, or just looking for some “active rest”, WWOOFing might be an option for you. As for COVID, my understanding is that people can travel between health regions for work, including volunteer work. There are safety measures in place at farms, too.
If you want to give it a try, sign up on the WWOOF Canada website, make an account, and look at farm descriptions and reviews to make a choice that is good for you.
This blog post is part of our summer Sharing Cycle, in which people from Language Partners BC share what else they are involved in, to invite others in.