In Praise of Slow and Wwoofing Around the World
How often do you hear not one, but two friends, talk about wwoofing within a two-week time span, and not in reference to a four-legged friend? I learned about wwoofing this month, which, with its extra w, is an acronym for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. In a video created by one wwoofer and his girlfriend, who spent eight months on eight farms in nine countries across Europe, one farmer talks about living in harmony with the earth, and puts it simply: I’m not a political person, I’m not going to change the world by revolution, but living the way I feel is the right way for me.”
In this age, where the only time we bump into each other is because our eyes are on our smartphones, not our world, that life seems pretty revolutionary. One friend, a horticulturist, is on her way to wwoof for the first time in France, while the other wwoofed a few years ago, and, though I knew her as a writer and Web producer, she’s now a cheesemonger who knows the ins & outs of sheep, goats, and cows. (That sounded grosser and a little more veterinarian than I intended… she knows their milk.)
Wwoofing reminds me of a book, In Praise of Slowness, by Carl Honoré, that introduced me to the Slow movements around the world – Slow Cities that design for pedestrians to walk to work, creating bike lanes for ease when grabbing groceries from a farmer’s market or local shop, and ways of creating space for community. Slow Food movements that include farm to table restaurants, where you know where your food was grown or where your chicken lived her last days, a la Portlandia (“his name was Collin.”) Eating at a restaurant in Congo that catered to the expat community, I recognized the Slow Food insignia on the wall. The owner, a Congolese woman, laughed. In Congo, she explained, where there is no infrastructure, all food is locally sourced and slow.
Also, not totally unrelated to the other kind of woofing: It’s farm dog week over at Modern Farmer. It’s very important that you know: Modern Farmer has an Official ModFarm Farm Dog Cam! “Brought to you live from Border Springs Farms in Virginia,” which hundreds of sheep and nine border collies call home.
“The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming the time and tranquility to make meaningful connections–with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own bodies and minds” ― Carl Honoré
If reading a book feels too slow for you, you can watch Honoré’s TedTalk here. It’s a good call to action – slower, more focused, attentive action. How can you slow down in your daily life? Check out wwoof.net to watch the short video referenced above, and wwoofinternational.org to learn more about how it works. Have you ever wwoofed? Do you want to? Share your stories of farm life in the comments, or over on Twitter@TheCityFarm and @RebeccaSnavely.