In May I went WWOOFing again, my third official farm stay, while Luke was traveling in the U.S. I stayed for two and a half weeks at Pian di Stantino, an agriturismo in Romagna about 90 minutes from Bologna.
My first two farm stays were at farms with plenty of other WWOOFers and workers. This time around, I was aiming for a more intimate and immersive experience. I wanted to see what it takes for a small family to live off the land and operate an agriturismo. I hoped to improve my Italian by immersing myself in the language.
And that’s just what I got.
It’s 7AM. I roll out of bed, get dressed, splash some cold water on my face, and head outside from the guest rooms. I stop by the natural spring fountain, fill up my Nalgene, and take a few gulps of the crisp, fresh water. I head into the agriturimso’s kitchen, where I find Martino already heating up a Moka pot of coffee, his face still tired and his hair in its usual wild state.
“Buon giorno! Come stai?”, I say.
“Sono stanco. Voglio dormire ancora.” He’s tired and wishes he could sleep some more.
We sit down to breakfast — just coffee for Martino and homemade bread and jam for me. Martino’s girlfriend Denise joins us — coffee and toast with chocolate hazelnut spread. We gradually wake up as we sip our hot drinks. This twenty minutes for breakfast is the slowest we’ll move all day. Especially Martino.
View from the front door of the guest rooms. I planted corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes in the field pictured. “Il mio mais!” I like to say.
I wasn’t always food obsessed.
As a workaholic adolescent and young adult, I didn’t think much about food on a daily basis. In fact, I generally found eating to be a nuisance that interrupted my study, work, or extra curricular activities. Convenience was the name of the game. I loved smoothies and power bars and would down them while walking to class or driving between meetings. I even daydreamed of food pills you could take to meet all of your daily nutritional needs.
At some point over the last four years, things changed. Continue reading
Christmas is typically full of tradition.
Between our two families, we usually have no less than three Christmas mornings. With Luke’s fam, there’s the white elefant book exchange and Cheesy Christmas Movie Night with brandy slush. At my house, there’s my Mom’s lasagna with hard boiled eggs and miniature meatballs (like her grandmother used to make) and Bernie Creedens (Ritz cracker Fluffernutter cookie sandwiches dipped in chocolate and topped with peanut M&Ms). There’s Christmas Eve mass, stockings, egg nog, sitting by the fire, the Holiday Who game in which we place grapes under our upper lips to look like Dr. Seuss Whos and then try to hold a conversation without laughing and spitting the grapes across the table. There’s the New Year’s Eve prank (which shall remain classified) and lots and lots of story telling. Continue reading
This past week, I started my first WWOOF experience (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) on Dulcamara Cooperative in Bologna. The concept behind WWOOF is that volunteers work on organic farms in exchange for lodging, food, and the opportunity to learn about organic farming. There are WWOOF farms all over the world — from the US, to Kenya, to New Zealand, to Italy. Italy has its own national WWOOF organization, WWOOF Italia. You pay a small fee to become a WWOOF Italia member, and in exchange, you get access to the list of WWOOF farms in Italy, regular updates about farms looking for volunteers, and some accident insurance that covers you while WWOOFing.
I signed up for a WWOOF Italia membership before we left for Bologna, having had a secret desire to live amongst fresh vegetables since reading Michael Pollan‘s books Continue reading