London

A few months ago I told my mom that I felt London calling.  As all good things take time, this one was like all the rest, but many weeks later and here I am.

Closing my first month in this gigantic city and I am still as stary-eyed as when I first arrived.  This is a glorious place where literally anything is possible, and has been possible for centuries.  The history, the architecture, the people, gah!  There is anything and everything that you could imagine, and adventures to stretch your mind.  You could walk down the same street each day and see something different.  Furthermore, you can go to a new part of the city and it feels like you’re in a different town.  Camden for music, Greenwich for a classic English-village, South Kensington for the museum circuit, Westminster for some of the most intricate buildings I’ve ever seen…it’s truly fabulous!

But with that being said, there are a couple of things that I particularly enjoy about this city…

1.  Everyone is so angry on the underground.
I know that being angry on the underground is a notorious thing – it’s like making eye contact is taboo.  If you DO make eye contact you know it’s a tourist that’s gazing back at you and wondering why the heck everyone is so angry.  But because I’m a Londoner now, I have to look at them with disgust and carry on avoiding eye contact (which is a full time activity, BTW).

2.  Bask in the glory of TfL.
The transportation system is unbelievable.  My brother was telling me that he takes the tram in Toronto to work which could take 30 minutes, or could take 2 hours, but regardless doesn’t get reimbursed or even issued an apology for the ridiculous late-ness that he must endure.  In London, there are announcements made if the trains are 1 minute late – I really appreciate the apology but who in their right mind actually cares if they’re ONE MINUTE late?  Honestly?  But then a crazy thing happened last week – the Blackwall Tunnel which links the Eastern parts of North and South London closed and utter MAYHEM ensued.  All of the roads were jammed, nobody was moving, gas lights were coming on, people were panicking, and nothing moved for hours.  It was bad.  So why do people still drive?  Park that darn car and hop on the excellent transport system that has been developed and revel in TfL’s glory.

3.  Heritage.
I went to a bar a couple of weeks ago where the limestone doorstep had been worn down by about 5 inches by hundreds of years of foot traffic.  I walk through a tunnel that goes under the river every day which was built in 1901 because Londoners didn’t want to rebuild another bridge.  I run by a tree that was planted by Henry VIII (which has since fallen down, but still)…HOW!?!??!  The history just kills me – think of all of the people who have witnessed the same sights and walked along the same streets over the centuries!

On the eve of my first Bank Holiday weekend as a working woman I think I’ve found my happy place in this gigantic urban oasis.  Bear with me as I work on future posts about hip places, artsy hang outs, and general stunning pictures that make my jaw drop so I hope they do to you too.

Stay tuned for more regular posts (I promise!!) or follow me on Instagram (@nwordenrogers) to see much more often content.

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Picturesque views

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Welcome to Greenwich!

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Harrods

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Natural History Museum

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Wise words from the Natural History Museum

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Georgian goodness

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Secret walled gardens are the best

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Comforting comfry

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Gigantic message in a bottle

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NJ’s Guide to WWOOFing

I feel like I’ve kept my anger towards my lack of employment opportunities on the down low.  I have had no paid employment since December, and although I embarked on a new journey to fill my time (re: farming – see Farming Gives You Balls), I am utterly and ecstatically pleased to say that I am deviating onto another path – onto that of architecture and urban design in one of the most culturally rich cities in the world: London.

My journey on farms, and more importantly the WWOOF program (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is coming to an end in less than a week (see what inspired it here).  Over the last 3 months I’ve listened, learned, and pondered not only the practicalities of farming, but also the societal, economic, and environmental aspects of it.  So I’m going to compile a list of tips for all of you future WWOOFers to consider before you immerse yourself in farm life.

1.  Get down with the lingo.
WWOOF sounds like some weird hippie cult, and being referred to as a ‘WWOOFer’ makes you seem like you’re…
a) Really bad at drinking and are often found throwing up in the bathroom, or;
b) A leader of said hippie cult.

Well you’re not wrong for either option as WWOOFers who are WWOOFing are generally pretty strange individuals in comparison to the norm as they are fighting an upwards battle for climate change and food security.  However, if you’re into that sort of thing and have even the slightest bit of environmental consciousness, then you’ll fit in.  Also, maybe check out Wikipedia for climate change just so you can be up to speed on the latest news and conspiracy theories to bust out to make everyone angry.

2.  Make a list of your needs.
Most people go WWOOFing for one of three reasons…
1) They’re running away from something – the law, a relationship, family problems, the ‘real world’.
2) They are running out of money and free room + board is a good option while you figure out your next move.
3) They genuinely want to learn how to become a farmer, and are part of the ever-growing movement towards a farming renaissance.

So with that being said, decide on your ‘needs’ and find a place that suits all of your necessities.  If you’re a social person, don’t kid yourself that a farm that’s 30 miles from the nearest pub will work for you.  It won’t and you’ll hate your life.
If you’re really pissed off at the world and want to get your frustration out by digging in the dirt, don’t go to a commune.  You’ll hate your life.

To give you an idea of what I mean, I like to be within 1 mile walking distance of a public transportation line, have some local amenities but still jaunt through the countryside.  I like to have weekends off, and to have a flexi-time work schedule (just because I was going to interviews).  Education-wise, I like for the farm to practice different agricultural methods than I’m used to so that I can learn.

There are so many options for hosts all over the world that you can be stingy with your ‘list’ and still find some place where you can learn, get away, or save money.

3.  Keep a diary.
Whether it’s on Instagram (check out my journey through photos and video on @nwordenrogers), WordPress, Facebook, or telling your Mom the things you learned each day, it is important to be able to look back on all of the things that you’ve learned and see the personal growth that you’ve endured over x-many weeks.

4.  Stick with it.
Within the first few weeks that I was WWOOFing I seriously doubted my decision and wanted to bolt back to my unemployed life in Cardiff quicker than you could call the cows home.  Realise that it takes some settling in and adjustment.  You’re going to be doing things that are really f*cking hard – I spent 2 weeks, for 8 hours each day shoveling hundreds of wheelbarrow loads of gravel to make paths.  Your body is going to ache, you’re going to get pissed off with the people you’re working with (and probably the weather as well), but at the end of it you’ll realise that everything has an ending.  Each task finishes and then you’ll never have to do that same task again (hopefully).  While the task may seem to go on for ages, there will be a break (no slave labour!), and you will come out on top.  The same goes for adjusting to the WWOOF lifestyle – you will adapt to appreciate where you are and the things you’re doing.  And if not…well, there are loads of other hosts that you can move on to visit if your place isn’t working out (and remember that people typically stick in one spot for only 2 weeks to a month per farm!).

5.  Be open to new things.
This is probably one of the most important things to be aware of.  You’re being welcomed into the homes of individuals who have routines, have their livelihoods, and are experts in their own unique ways – be open to learning from them.  With farm hopping comes new stories, new knowledge, and new opinions.  Welcome these with open arms because they’re unlike any thing I have ever experienced.  Typically we converse with our friends (who are our age) that we’ve met through various educational institutions, or family members.  WWOOFing allows the interaction between individuals of all ages, cultures, and ethnicities who are working in the environmental sector (who, depending on their motives to be there, may or may not actually care about the environment).  This makes for a seriously mixed bag of opinions that can be pelted at you, and as long as you’re open to hearing new opinions, can make for a period of growth.  Otherwise you’ll probably end up arguing a lot.  

…And finally – don’t get exploited.
I’ve heard the horror stories of people who have gone to remote farms that boast beautiful countryside where you live harmoniously with chickens who lay golden eggs, and run around in flower-filled meadows while working 3 hours per day. When in reality the farm is run by starving vegans, and workers have to live on water and bread while working from dawn to dusk. If you’re thinking of WWOOFing, make sure you check out how many hours the hosts are expecting you to work and hold them to it. If they want you to work 10 hours to get a project done and you’re down with that, agree to it, but tell them you’re taking an extra day off at the weekend. Slave labour isn’t cool.


Reflecting on the last three months, I’ve had a lot of fun and have learned a lot about farming as well as myself.  I’ve realised that I take stability for granted; that although I get itchy feet to travel, I love having my own space to return to.  I’ve realised how much I enjoy city life and the fantastic culture that surrounds it, but also need green space to roam and some dirt where I can get my hands dirty.  I’ve figured out what makes me happy, and am using it to influence my next chapter in a city of 13 million inhabitants.  People have made numerous comments about the culture shock associated with moving from farm life to London life, but luckily I’ve managed to find a house on the Thames, the backyard has a pond with ducks, and to get to the supermarket I walk through a 35-acre urban farm with pigs, llamas, and sheep.  Here’s to one chapter closing and another beginning – enjoy some of the photos I’ve snapped over the last few months.  Next stop: London!

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The cockerel overlooking his kingdom.

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A Khaki Campbell taking a break from sluggin’.

 

 

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Baby chicks on the first day of spring!

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Whatchu lookin’ at?

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My 1960’s caravan in mustard and floral – how much more of a 60’s vibe can you get?!

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The first chick, Fluffy, from our incubated experiment.  No, that is not scrambled eggs in my bowl.

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I call this one roast chicken – the first hot day!

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Cherry blossoms in March, ahhh.

Farming gives you balls

Nearly 10 weeks ago I set out on an adventure to figure out why farming was considered to be uncool.  At the time I was singing its praises, and after 60+ days I’m on the same trajectory of thought.  Here are my thoughts (or justifications??) on the benefits seen by an individual who is knees deep in the farming practice.

Farming is a foreign concept to Generation Y.  It’s evident from the statistics that we’re bombarded with that state that the average age of a farmer is 65.  Sustenance comes from a supermarket where the produce is dirt free, ‘meat’ is something in a plastic container with a best before date, and everything else is packaged and ready to be plopped into a wheely cart to take home.  That doesn’t mean that Gen-Y doesn’t want to know about farming (see this film trailer that was produced in NB! – http://fya.tv/movement/themillennialdream/), but maybe we’re a bit slow on the uptake.  Ultimately we are removed from our food systems, and through the process of rekindling these connections will come a list of life lessons that are not solely applicable to digging in the dirt, but are general lessons to apply to all aspects of our world.

Patience
Scenario 1: You plant a seed, wait 10 days for it to germinate, and water it each day for 10-20 days while it gets stronger.  You then plant the seedlings outside and on the morning of the 41st day, you find all of the plants have been eaten by slugs.  Could you imagine if you spent 41 days on a project with no outcome, how would you break it to your boss?  “Oh yeah, sorry, those 150 hours of work that I put in didn’t amount to anything, really sorry about that!”.

Scenario 2:  You do the same as before, but transfer the seedlings to a greenhouse to get stronger and wait another 20 days.  Finally they are ready to go into the ground after nearly 2 months of daily care.  On the morning of the 61st day you find your crop strong and healthy.  An additional 20 days can make or break a crop.

That additional time taken to nurture the facets of a project, thought, or idea will be attributed to strength, resiliency, and growth with the additional time.

Life sucks and then you die AKA
Reality check in the form of acceptance

I love to live in my own little world and pretend that the big bad (insert whatever you’re afraid of here – tax man, creepy dude that lives on your street, a hairy super spider) can never penetrate my lovely little bubble and harm will never manifest in any which way.  That, however, is not realistic.  That being said, if you cannot accept realism then you will forever become disappointed when something does not go your way.

When I came to my second farm, a bantem hen was brooding on a clutch of eggs.  Three weeks later, two of the eggs had hatched and a third was seeming to break open its shell.  Overjoyed that there was a 100% success rate, we hardly noticed that the third chick was having a hard time hatching.  That evening was the coldest night of the year, and the third chick died in the night, halfway out of its egg.  The circle of life is sometimes cruel, especially during my first experience of rearing chicks.  But this is reality.  Things die, that’s just how it goes, and to expect 100% success, 100% of the time is not realistic.  Am I sad that the chick died?  Of course, but it’s something that needs to be not only accepted, but expected.

 

Taking risks

Each year farmers jump into the unknown – the unknown of what weather will grace our fields and how we will adapt in order to feed ourselves.  Adaptability leads to resiliency, and resiliency means that you’re much more likely to be able to take situations by the horns or tackle problems with an open mind as farmers have seen their livelihoods fail when they don’t possess this trait.

Farmers take risks going to new markets, offering a CSA program, growing different vegetables, or rearing new animals.  Their lives are dominated by risks and delving into the unknown.  What was the last risky thing you did that could make or break you?  Humans like consistency, and when we stray outside of the known we panic.  But are we then limited by the boundaries that we subliminally set?  I’ll let you decide on that one.

Rats in the (urban) jungle

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you’ll probably get the hint that urban gardening is my jam. Utilizing small spaces requires some creative thinking so that the space is highly productive – horizontal and vertical space, light patterns, and pests.

After now spending a couple of weeks on an urban smallholding, I’ve realised that pests are a massive issue. We’re talking all types of pests – plant-based and animal based. I’ve been taking a permaculture course and constantly hear my classmates lamenting over the couch grass that widdles its way under their fences, or the bind weed that peeks its annoying little head through the hedges. Before you know it your garden will be taken over and you have to spend the next decade fighting a losing battle with weeds that weren’t even yours to begin with! It’s kind of like the (awful, horrible, crappy) gift that keeps on giving, really.

Then we have the animals. Because Britain loved hunting all of its native animals to extinction for hats or coats, the wildlife situation is pretty abysmal. That is, unless we’re talking rats and foxes. Although I have yet to see a fox on the farm, they’re definitely waiting in the bushes for me to forget about the chickens and ducks so they can have a tasty feast. Don’t even get me started on the rats. They’re quite like the invasive weeds – you can do everything in your power to not leave food around but if your neighbours are careless then you have to deal with them.

So how do you deal with rats?
*I just want to clarify that we’re not talking about one or two rats, I’m talking about hundreds. When you look out your window at a given time you can see 3 or 4, or more if you reeeeally start looking; when you walk through the garden, the surrounding bushes are constantly rustling with their little hairless tails dragging behind them; and my personal favourite is when they try to escape your path, climb a fence, and leap onto a nearby tree. We don’t have a rat problem, we have an infestation.

Why don’t we want rats? They burrow and create mess, they steal chicken eggs, and they also carry diseases. Remember that time that rats carried the plague and wreaked havoc in early 17th century London? Yeah, we don’t want that to happen again so we need to control these jerks.

Do we take all of their terrible characteristics into consideration and say “F*ck it, let’s kill these bastards” and poison them? A WWOOFer recollected a story where she saw a poisoned rat who wasn’t yet dead and was walking around like a zombie for hours. That’s pretty grim. There’s something about trapping rats that doesn’t appeal to me, maybe it’s when the trap is triggered and their guts are forced out of their mouths? This week I found a rat that had been trapped, and this was the picture I was welcomed to as I checked the trap.

Let’s just shoot the darned things! And shoot them we did. I figure it’s the most humane way (assuming your shot is good). So if you’ve ever had a rat problem, how have you solved your problem?

Here are a couple of non-greusome photos of dead rats…

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My little caravan on the urban farm.

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A white-speckled and a blue egg!  

Transportation in the Northern South

I’ve left the countryside and it took 2 hours of buses, 3 hours of trains and transfers to do so. Having previously thought that the UK had no true rural areas because of it’s immense population of 65 million and having a landmass of 3x the size of New Brunswick…well, I was wrong. If you want uninterrupted countryside, go West of Exeter and you’ve found it. There are loads of towns and villages, but public transportation is abysmal unless you’re on a train line – which only exists in the very south.

If you speak to any of the Northern Devon and Cornwall residents about the lack of reliable transportation be prepared for a rant. When we imagine efficent transport systems it definitely does not apply to these places. To get anywhere one needs to catch a bus to Exeter which takes about 1.5-2 hours.

I was heading to a job interview and caught the 9am bus, and at about 9:20am on some back country lanes in even more of the middle of nowhere than where I had just left, the bus shuttered to a halt. The driver said we had run out of gas. How does that even happen at 9am? We were promised a technician would arrive in 30 minutes and 3 hours later a cheeky mechanic who had bits of a pasty in his beard showed up. 4 hours after I had originally been scheduled to arrive at the train station I finally made it, and somehow made my train.

When I traveled back to the depths of Cornwall/Devon and recounted my story to the locals they guffawed and recalled tales where a bus they had been on had broken down and been raided by wolves, or been abducted by aliens. One lady on the bus had said that this was the third time that the bus had broken down in a month.

So here’s a helpful tip – if you’re going to the English Riviera, rent a damn car. Or hitch hike. Or bike or crawl because it will get you reliably from point A to B.

Putting an ear to the ground

This week I stayed at a different farm for an evening and when I was cuddled up with my water bottle waiting to fall into a deep slumber, I noticed a peculiar noise. Not a creepy noise like a rat scratching through the wall to eventually end up plopping on your face at 3am, but a soothing sound that felt like a long lost friend. I finally put my finger on it – it was the sound of leaves rustling in the evening breeze outside my window. Having spent the past two years living in cities, and my short stint in a wintry Canada (sans leaves), I realised I hadn’t heard that familiar lull in a very long time. But how often do we take the time to listen, pinpoint, and appreciate those noises?

I’ve been pondering the subject of ‘listening’ a lot recently. As a society, I don’t feel like voices are being heard, yet are on the verge of consistently being repressed. The media has been riddled with stories of miscommunication/lack of communication/downright shaming. With all of the negative stories aside, I think that we, as a society, have a problem with the ability to tune in and listen. With social hierarchy making some want to one-up the person they’re in conversation with, it means neither person is truly paying attention to what the other is saying, more so “What dazzling fact can I spew out that will disarm my opponent?”.

Another type of fake listening is probably induced by the need to do everything better and faster. Because everyone is so well connected, we’re forced to wait for responses and emails and will respond promptly. In real life, if that response isn’t happening quickly in a conversation, minds wander and soon enough we have no idea how the story went which led cousin Linda to wake up in a snow suit on a Spanish beach. Why has that demand for information translated into a lack of listening, and ultimately a failure to interact with our fellow homosapians?

So friends, I urge you to pay a bit more attention to how you are interacting and receiving information from those that surround you. Instead of disregarding and discarding information, as listeners we have a responsibility to understand what is being said and act accordingly. If a whole lot more listening happens, a whole lot fewer problems would arise. Speak less, listen more. Check in and let me know how it goes.

Thank your farmer

This week saw the novelty of farming wearing off.  My clothes are permanently muddy, my hands are battered from the lack of available Aveeno whenever I please, and I no longer try to remove the soil from my fingernails each day.  The taste of tea has never been sweeter after returning ping up sod and laying new pathways. My bed has never felt so comfortable after being exposed to the elements all day, and I’ve never slept better.

Each week comes with its unique set of problems, but one problem keeps plaguing the farm I’m on, and nearly all farmers in the South of England. There have been no frosts this year which may sound great – unseasonably warm temperatures, hurray! But do you want to buy local produce? Because if so, you may be unable to eat that sustainably sourced food. No frost means that the slugs aren’t wiped out, which means that the population will like be huge this year (and no matter how many ducks you have to be on slug patrol, the crops will get mauled). In the last month there has been 3 days of sun, and the rest of it rain. Loads of rain, warm temperatures…that sounds like slug and rot heaven – what a time to be alive!!!!!! It’s quite a scary prospect when my farmer tells me how slow the season is – the purple sprouting broccoli should have been 6 feet high, but it’s only 2 feet high, so now we have to rip out the crops and plant potatoes in their place. On a small organic farm where weekly profits from the farmers market dictate if you can buy necessities means you can’t wait around for crops to grow. Climate change is buffeting this region unlike ever before.

But with all of that doom and gloom, I learned this week that although we can no longer reliably predict when we can sow our seeds, we can make notes of our surroundings which will help us. If the seed packet says to sow in March, instead we may have to think about light levels – do we have 13 hours of sunlight yet? If not, don’t plant those tomatoes! Have the purple billed playtus-migrating blackbirds come back yet? Yes they have, so we can plant our Brussels sprouts. Using the queues provided by nature is one of the most surefire ways to know when to plant, or in the case of the broccoli/potato crop, when to give up and move on.

This farming thing is tough! It takes a huge amount of preparation, thought, and time-consuming work to not know if you’ll have a salable product at the end of the day. These are the folks that feed us, these are the people who feed the masses, and these are the people who are feeling the pressures of climate change the most. The next time you go to your market, thank your farmer for growing you some darn good food, and praise them for feeding you regardless of their slug/bug/too much rain+snow+sun problems. And with that, here’s a snippet of my week + weekend in photos…

 

 

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This is the market that I sell at each week in Tavistock – it’s been in the same place for NINE HUNDRED YEARS.

 

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This wee goat was curious how I would do on my first attempt at milking.

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Setting up the taters to sprout so we can plant some early crops in polytunnels.

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Heritage chickens lay the most beautiful brown eggs!

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When the weather outside is dreadful (which it nearly always is!) I pick a polytunnel to weed, and this time it was the onions.  These babies were planted just before Christmas and check out how much chickweed has grown in 6 weeks, egads!

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I took the dog for a stroll along this AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) on the northern shores of Cornwall – the winds were insanely strong by the edge!

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Mevagissy Harbour reminds me of Nova Scotian fishing villages.

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The Southern Cornish coastline is just as dramatic as the North!

Initial Steps of Farming

I left the city on a cold and torrentially pouring morning to venture south (uh oh – but don’t people seeking economic prosperity always go West?).  I got to my destination with a backpack frame teetering two feet taller than me and sat and wait to be picked up.

It was like the song “Who’s that doggy in the window” was playing on a loop.  I smiled at every person that walked by, assessing if they would be the person that I would be living with for the next undecided-amount-of-time.  That older man in the gumboots with hip waders?  Nope, he just sent back a really cheeky look.  That candy floss haired lady who was chain smoking?  She sits down beside you and brashly offers you a toffee.  No.

Luckily I got picked up, and swept off to a lovely little homestead where the list of tasks was endless but there was always a promise of tea (it’s a good trade off, right?).

I was given the task of looking after the ducks for my entire stay, and let me tell you OHMYgOoDNESS are they ever cute!  My family had a couple of ducks when I was growing up, and I think I banned their memories of cuteness when tragedy struck and I found out that a fox had bitten off their heads one morning…bye bye ducks, hello harsh lesson on death for little NJ.  As all things have a purpose on small holdings, I inquired the purpose of the ducks other than occasional baseball-sized eggs and a constant quacking murmur that floated across the gardens.  They’re on  slug patrol!

Day one was like a fond childhood memory.  My dad always created “make work projects” for his kids during the summers in between school.  I associated it with he never wanting to have to either a) lend me a car, or b) fix the car reserved for me that my brother blew up, which meant I was confined to my parents’ very remote house.  He got me to do things like paint the basement, even though it had been painted a few years prior, or pull up this horrid plant called tansy for weeks on end which still gives me nightmares.  Day one at the farm consisted of unearthing a path that had been overtaken by grass, so essentially backbreaking work but oh so satisfying because you see the fruits of your labour instantaneously.  I feel like my dad would have been very proud of my sod-cutting technique.

On the second day we were off to sell at a market by 6am, and said market has been around for over 900 years.  NINE HUNDRED YEARS!  How is that even possible!?!  What was Canada doing 900 years ago?  Just imagining a bustling market in the exact same place I was selling our vegetables, except it being nearly a millennia prior absolutely boggles my mind.

So that’s my update with the closure of week 1 at the farm.  I’m physically exhausted at the end of each day, but am kept mentally stimulated with the changing of tasks, the learning dictated by my gracious hosts, and lots of free thing time (who gets that on the daily anymore?).  It’s so different from office work – I’m not sure if in a good way, just different – change is good.  So here I am with my slug slingin’ ducks in ‘The British Boonies”, aka a place not served by rail, or a daily bus.  To communicate send smoke signals, or via wood thrush (they’re back for the spring!).

Onwards

This past week I did two pivotal things that have decided what the “next thing” will be.

1) I went to a talk from the Utopia Salon, a round table discussion that brings together experts and interested individuals to discuss various subjects.  This particular time we were discussing the urban food system.  The big question, as always, was “How do we take a bit rather than always seeming to take in excess?”.  How do we stop wasting so much food in the Global North while those in the Global South are faced with huge shortages?  What is better: local or organic?  Should we only buy local food, and if so, what happens to the FairTrade agreements with the banana, coffee, and cocoa industries that have become economically dependent on the North?  Realistically it’s a shit storm.  But the most telling thing that I observed in this room of academics was that each person was throwing out ideas, solutions, projects to this ‘shit storm’, but there was a massive disconnect in physically getting into the soil and growing food for the masses.  As one of the hosts said, “Farming is considered uncool – if someone said that they were going farming they would be laughed at essentially”.  Why is this?

2) The next morning I went to the Riverside Community Garden to do some volunteering.  I’ve meant to go to the garden for the last year, but just have never made the time.  It’s a pretty sophisticated operation that’s immersed within a larger allotment at the top end of Bute Park.  Having two polytunnels, a cob oven, potting sheds, an office, the most beautiful compost I’ve ever seen, and many little ponds – it’s a happenin’ place and is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 10-4 (they’ll feed you and give you a lot of tea, too!).  I got right to work and mid-way through mixing up a bucket of potting mix to plant radishes in the greenhouse, the sun came out.  This is highly unusual in Wales, so it makes it even the most normal moment seem ethereal.

And that’s when I decided I wanted to be a farmer.  The simplicity of life, ah!  You need not dread the daily grind because each day brings something new.  You literally see the fruits of your labour.  You’re connected to your community and like-minded individuals.  You can eat the best food available – no more “Oh I can’t afford to shop organically” because that’s the only food you have to choose from!  And you’re doing an incredible service to nature by managing land sustainably, and providing food and knowledge to the surrounding villages.

I found an absolutely marvelous organic homestead-type farm in North Devon that specialises in herbalism and permaculture, has tons of hikes nearby, and is a few kilometers from the ocean.  So with that I’m taking a bit of a break from city life and heading into the fields for the foreseeable future.  I’ve always been a daytime gardener who doesn’t rely on the produce for my livelihood and I’m excited for the new challenge and to do a different type of immersive learning.  To have a holistic view of the food sector I should have checked off working on a farm on my mental ‘to-do’ list ages ago.  I hope you’ll join me for this new adventure where I’ll debunk the idea that farming is uncool (because I know it’s awesome!).  In return I’ll take some beautiful photos and write poems for the torrential February rains, or how I got attacked by a duck 🙂