My volunteering experience on a farm in Sardinia- August, 2013
Photo : Patrizio Martorana/sxc.hu
Volunteering with the worldwide organization, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) offers learning about organic lifestyle, the country, its culture, people etc. This way of travelling means being involved in farm work every day for about 4 to 6 hours. The arrangement provides accommodation and food for free. WWOOF works simple: You choose the country you would love to experience, become a member, contact the listed host farms and finally you can start making plans. I joined this experience in July 2012 for two months. The country I chose was Italy. To be more precise, the Southern Island called Sardinia located in the Mediterranean Sea.
Faced with challenges
Contacting a host farm in the South of Sardinia near the capital, Cagliari, was the first step. I then went on to do my ticket bookings. This was the only thing for which I had to pay, for the whole journey and experience. Great, isn’t it?
Excited about my trip to Sardinia, I started preparing myself. Knowing about the temperature was important as half my day’s work would be in the heat. After arriving at the airport in Cagliari, I had to take the bus to the small town called Muravera at the eastern coast. A majority of Sardinians have little English knowledge and so, my first challenge was to find the right bus stop. But as I took part in an Italian course before, I could communicate by mixing Italian with English.
My host father picked me up from the local bus stop and brought me to my accommodation. It was a low house, built by themselves out of bricks and reed. I immediately fell in love with this humble structure which was located between many shady trees. Adriana, my host mother, welcomed me with bright happiness and gave me the feeling of being in my own home. On the first day evening, I had to try my hand at milking a goat. Not as easy as it seemed!
All in a day’s work!
In the following days, I learned so many new things about living in an eco- friendly way. My daily work started at 7 am and lasted until 12.00 or 1.00 p.m. The heat was amazing with the temperature reaching up till 30 degrees even at 9.00 a.m. Most of the time, I did gardening work. For instance, removing the weed between vines, cutting some olive trees, gathering all type of fruits like melon, peaches, oranges and also several types of vegetables and also preparing the delicious Italian meals! Moreover, I helped my host-father by building a new, much bigger house by preparing the bricks, the canes for the roof and the basement. ‘Amazing achievement; one of the most impressive experiences,’ I thought.
About one week later, other volunteers arrived at the farm: a Scottish girl and boy, a Swiss girl and an Italian boy. From this day on, the work was more fun, enjoyable and even my leisure time was more exciting as they were almost my age. The exchange of experiences from different cultures and countries was great. I really enjoyed spending time with all of them.
Every weekend, there was a celebration in the specific community and the placement changed weekly between the native members of the valley. It was a large family which gathered to drink, eat, dance and enjoy themselves together. Some of them brought their self made vine while the others got fruits or bread and the host served pizza cooked in their wooden stove. It was really fascinating to see these people leading simple yet happy lives.
One of these evenings, I met some Dutch and Italian girls and immediately became friends with them. In the following days, we went to the beach and had such a good time. The ecological, cultural aspects I learned from all the diverse and interesting people I met, was a great experience. I felt really sad when it was time for me to go back home.
WWOOF gave me the possibility to be a part of other cultures and lifestyles. It was a good opportunity for me to build friendships with people from different countries. I am planning to join WWOOF again in New Zealand. After my final exams, I take one year off to travel around the world and I will also go to the wonderful New Zealand. I am definitely looking forward to gathering kiwis and working on the farms with sheep and lamas. If you want to have an incredible time and if you are interested in organic farming, travelling and meeting interesting, open-minded people, do not hesitate. Become a member of WWOOF! I totally recommend this experience!!