Reflections from a WWOOFer

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Madeleine Zimmermann / Allegheny  College Env. Science + Studio Art / Class of 2018

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,or the birds in the sky,
and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.” [Job 12:7-8]

“Madeleine, have you ever heard of WWOOFing? Makenzie and I want to go to the Southwest over winter break and WWOOF.”

It was early September and I was sitting around a table with some friends at our student-run coffee shop. I was plunging my tea leaves in and out of my hot water. I had never heard of WWOOFing and I didn’t have nearly enough money to travel to the southwest over break but later that night I went back to my house and pulled up the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms site for the United States.

Three months later and I was packing up a suitcase with a ten days’ worth of clothes. Within those three months I had overcome a stripping case of pneumonia, the death of two of my friends, and the long list of struggles that came with my dad losing his job after 20 years. I was in much need of spiritual rejuvenation.

Driving to Chardon, Ohio was more than a cosmic coincidence. My grandmother lived in a town over and for the first time since her passing in 2011, I drove by the exit to Chesterland. Continuing on to Light Footsteps Farm, I passed the same Marc’s in Chardon she loved to go to every weekend that we visited. It was at that moment that I realized that this was a homecoming for my soul.

After over a week of Michael and Christine sharing their home with me I’ve been given some time to reflect on my experience. In that time I have cleared paths and planted trees. I have butted heads with societal ideologies (metaphorically) and hungry goats (literally). I have witnessed the healing power of the earth in the jars on Christine’s shelves and sun that warms new life. In that time Michael and Christine have shared their honest opinions and advice on everything broad to specific: from general medicine to geriatric health care, childbirth, and vaccinations. They have shown me what it means to be a pioneering family wrestling to spread knowledge and heal the earth while still being genuine. Christine has taught me how to find empowerment in my womanhood, how to establish internal affirmation even when societal norms plant doubts and fears, and how to fearlessly be a caretaker. Michael has taught me how to question reality while still being confident in who I am and my place within the environmental community, and how to be an expert learner above all else.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once defined a weed as “a plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” Spending time with a family who is building their lifestyle around permaculture, I’ve been able to find virtue in every living thing, and even do the same for the “weeds” in my life.

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Mui Mui and Lucky brush noses


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Scooby watches the snow fall from inside the warmth of the barn

 

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the morning sun glowing from behind the treeline


Christine explains how herbal tastes can convey their actions.

Christine explains how herbal tastes can convey their actions.


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the snow didn’t last long / Margaret (another WWOOFer) and Cora’s salutation to the sun


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Vincent poses for the camera


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Vincent and Lena wait to go on a walk


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Margaret and Lena


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the chickens scratch through the new straw


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Scooby proves she is civilized enough to get food for herself


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new product photos


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radish sprouts in a tabletop aquaponics system


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goodbye new friends, until next time

 

 Learn more about WWOOF.

 

 

 

Community Herbal Intensive in Northeast Ohio at the Trillium Center

I have been following the exciting developments at The Trillium Center for some time now so when fellow herbalist Leah Wolfe contacted me and asked if I’d share information about the upcoming Community Herbal Intensive, I quickly said, “Yes!”.  This is sure to be an awesome opportunity for all plant enthusiasts to further their study in a hands-on, community-oriented way.

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The Trillium Center logo

Here’s a little more from Leah:

The Community Herbal Intensive is an educational program for herbalists and other plant lovers who want to make a connection between herbal medicine and community health. The monthly workshops will take participants out into the field to work with plants or into the streets to develop community projects. This program is for anyone interested in furthering their studies of herbal medicine in a hands-on environment while developing skills for creating community projects. The goal of the program is to give participants skills, ideas, and strategies to start community projects that emphasize holistic health, folk medicine, education, gardening, and foraging. They will be introduced to the concepts of public health and liberation theory so herbs, education, and community health can be interwoven into well-planned projects. Get the application to learn more.

You can find the application by visiting this link on The Trillium Center’s website: Why CHI? With link to Application

A dose of sunshine

We recently returned from visiting family in California for a week.  We had a wonderful time sharing in each others company, and it was fun for Baby LF to play outdoors in a different climate.

Here in Ohio, we still try to get outdoors every day even if it’s snowy and cold, but she really enjoyed this new type of outdoor play.  When temperatures were last warm here, she wasn’t quite old enough to enjoy sitting with a shovel and bucket.

She especially took to the ocean water and it had me wondering if she might be part mermaid.

Maybe some of you who are also in the thick of snow will enjoy seeing the sunlight and warmth.  (Which, funny enough, we often heard was “cold” to them – in the 60s at times – ha ha!).

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