WWOOF-ing in Marlborough

On November 10th I was able to go to wwoof with two of my friends.  For those unaware, when you wwoof (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) you basically work for 4-6 hours a day in exchange for meals and a place to stay.  The three of us ventured up towards the most northern part of the south island, to a tiny town called Spring Creek.  Close to the Marlborough Sound, the ocean, wine country, and a river.

We met Graham & Gill, our hosts, in Picton & then they drove us back to their farm.  The two are currently New Zealand’s only commercial almond farm. This might seem odd, particularly because it’s right in the middle of wine country where, for the most part, only grapes grow on someone’s property.  However, this is what makes their products special, and is able to earn them a living.  On the property there’s over 2000 almond trees, a family of turkeys, a handful of goats, a gathering of chickens, a couple of dogs & cats, and a collection of homemade gadgets and machines.  Graham is the epitome of a handyman, and he fixes anything and everything on their farm.  He has built his own airplane, a helicopter-like contraption to protect against frost damage, a hover boat, and the machine that him and Gill use to harvest their almonds.

The weather was perfect when we were there (and I have the tan lines to prove it).  The work we did was mainly preparing for the upcoming harvest in April.  For example, we helped dig and put in a pipe underground so that more of the almond trees would get the much needed water.   We pruned trees back so they would grow correctly to be a good shelter belt on the property, I got to milk a goat (Gill said I was the best of the three of us!), and we did a few other odd jobs.  I ate really well too since they’re mostly an organic farm, so almost all the food we ate came right from the farm.  Gill is an awesome cook and prepared us one of their turkeys that they had on the farm, and they introduced us to a No-Hands Tim Tam Slam [whereas I only knew about it with hands] – something along the lines of this.

We were told stories, we got to dance, swim, canoe, and even jump off of a bridge!  It was such a fun experience and I already miss spending time with Gill and Graham.

Since the weather was so nice, we decided to camp outside under the stars

Graham’s hover boat that he built himself

At the farmer’s market – from left to right: Gill, me, Graham, and my two friends, Ben and Emily (who is a fellow IES-er!)