We’ve just finished our first WWOOFing (world wide oppurtunites on organic farms) in North America and it met all of our hopes and more. We spent 3 weeks on a small farm situated south of Chemainus on Vancouver Island. Our lovely host, Jan, greeted us with open arms into her home & we immediately felt like part of the family. We spent our time working between Jan’s garden and the Halalt Community Centre – where the food was being grown to supply and support the people within the local area. Jan also had chickens, turkeys, geese & 5 goats which then expanded to 12 – as 7 kids were born during our stay. This provided quite a bit of excitement as one of the does gave birth down a ditch full of mud with rising water, thus the three poor kids were crying, wet and chest deep in mud when we found them. The runt was too weak to find its mother’s teat and we resorted to bottlefeeding it and supplying copious amount of TLC. The kid was named Zomer (meaning summer in Dutch) by a lovely young girl from the Netherlands who was also staying at the farm. We were further delighted when Jan suggested two of the other kids should be named Hattie & Rio. One thing that we hadn’t realised prior to arriving, was that the house was on a First Nation Reserve. We were fortunuate enough to be invited to lessons on Hul’qumi’num (the local First Nation language), taught by the Elder Florence James. She is one of about 27 people still fluently speaking her language and has both a captivating and inspiring presence. The langauge is closely connected to the land and its people, and Florence told us that as wwoofers we are called ‘shthuyunup’ which means ‘preparers of the Earth’. One of our great friends we met at the farm was MaryDawn, who has been working with Florence to transcribe the Hul’qumi’num language so that the words are not lost. MaryDawn is an Inuit lady from the NorthWest Territories but moved to the Island many years ago. She taught us so much about the local people, history & land. For example, whilst hiking on a nearby Mountain, she would pick up plants for us to try and explain their medicinal and cultural value. We ended up staying an extra week at the farm as we enjoyed it so much and didn’t want to leave the incredibly eclectic family that was formed. Some of our time wwoofing at Jan’s were:
- Learning about sustainable living, the local culture and sharing wonderful cooking made with fresh produce.
- Eating deer, elk and smoked sockeye salmon – all caught on the Reserve.
- Sitting around the fire at the end of each day, often making smores and hearing the Australian WWOOFers tell awful jokes.
- Road-tripping Tofino with MaryDawn, 2 German WWOOFers and fortunately seeing two bears chilling by road.
- Watching the procession through Chemainus for the local High School Prom – it totally felt like it was a scene from a movie.
We’ve left with so many amazing memories and one of the most exciting things so far has been the brilliance of unpredictability. We’re currently in Victoria and heading to Port Angeles tomorrow to start the American leg of our trip. Hattie & Rio