Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Farming in "the Project."

“We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
- Momma Teresa
1) Context: Week 2 of trip, Refurbishing a 250 year old farm in the hillsides of France.
On the train into the middle of nowhere

The caravan where Nicole and I stayed while there... stay tuned in the future for a book entitled "I Capture the Caravan" where we attempt to capture the full experience and share it with the world.. This was also the very caravan that Klas, the man who started "the project" back in the day quite his job in business, rid himself of all his possessions, and took off to find freedom.. interesting to think about - some cool aspects of what he was searching for and why, but also interesting to think about why someone would feel the need to think that freedom has to be away from all people... interesting...

2) What: WWOOFing = World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms – check it. http://www.wwoof.org/
Basic def: a global network of organic goat/rice/coffee/grape farms and gardens etc. anywhere from Ontario to Vancouver to Jamaica to Japan to Scotland, etc. where you can help/work for room & board from 1 week up to 6 months or more.  The website literally just opens you up to the network of projects, you pick people that suit your fancy, and blahblahblah wicked.
Nicole and I chose an organic farm/garden/"community project" in France... amazing and hilarious.

3) Let us begin.
There are a number of reasons why I keep returning to thegraylife blog, I do not just want to simply show you the interesting food I am lucky enough to eat and make myself sick from, but to actually use it as a space for sharing life. As I learn and either share other’s or my own stories I want to continue this network of cool ideas that encourage growth as individuals in a global community.  SO, this is WWOOFing through my eyes, and a LITTLE bit of why I have wanted to do try it, and what I have gained from this venture.
Old farm house that they have been living in and working on for the past 7 years... amazing what they have done with the place.
OK, so the following may be obvious to some, but others may find this sort of lingo wishy-washy,  hippiesque, or a bunch of bull – BUT the more one learns of the world, and indeed of themselves, it becomes clearer how holistic everything is. 
Take an individual. A person’s mental, physical, and emotional states are intertwined. They further affect and are affected by their environment and habits within that space, whether it be their purchases, food choices, relationships, jobs, knowledge, etc.. So link that up to how our personal well/poor-being affects co-workers, partners, friends, strangers in everyday life, as well as the lives that are affected by anything we buy….
Bare with me here.
Modern-day slavery is a well-known (though not well-internalized) unfortunate reality, yet many of us for example, still buy bananas non-fair-trade even if we have heard that the men and women who are forced to harvest these crops are being treated often worse than animals (though let’s not even get into how factory animals are treated).  We do not see a human face when we buy the banana, so our conscious carries on unaffected.  Perhaps if the man (often sick and dying from pesticides and backbreaking labour away from his wife and children) that picked the bananas was standing behind the row of fruit when we chose the bundle…. We may not have made our selection. 
Looking back on the abolition of slavery, it wasn’t until the British people themselves who were not actually seeing the atrocities face to face but were told about it by William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson who provided the evidence of the disgusting human rights violations to the public – that they boycotted sugar and fought the government – the biggest consumer boycott apparently (maybe I am wrong in this, but that is what I have read), knowing that the British would face severe economic consequences for abandoning the slave trade. Knowledge of treatment of fellow humans was enough to abandon support of such practices.  What about today? When things are tremendously worse? We should stop applauding Wilberforce and Martin Luther King of the past, and apply their guts to the here and the now.
Okay Carolyn, Debbie Downer much?
Okay so what I really want to highlight is amazing people who are practicing these things with their daily lives, from my family members, neighbours, professors, (you can check out my cousin (who I am visiting out West in a few days (!!)) Erin’s blog on the modern slave trade, http://www.theundergroundrailroad.ca/oneabolitionist/ or The Kind Life with Alicia Silverstone on the practices of eating amazing and ethical food for the betterment of all http://www.thekindlife.com/), just to name a couple.  Not everyone can do everything, but we can all do many small things.  And trust me, they add up.
If you find yourself not thinking you are addicted to things, and have heard the word on the street, in classroom, on T.V., etc. that certain companies are awful, yet still reach for your can of coke on a bi-daily basis, buy from the GAP (I am not saying I’m innocent, it’s all a work in progress), overeat on meat you know has come from a disgusting place (ethically, environmentally, abusing our “rights” as man over mule let alone how our over consumption leads to other’s malnourishment), etc… then we all still have work to do.
If you can’t go WWOOFing and work or volunteer on a farm and get your hands dirty;
A) I suggest that you at least help your Auntie in her garden every once and a while and learn not just where your food comes from but appreciate it… and
B) check out your local farmers markets and places that sell fair trade items. It’s actually so much easier than you think… most big grocery stores even have sections now with fair trade, organic, whole foods with no chemicals or whatever in them (be brand conscious though, some scam the green freaks of the world)… and begin the slow process of realizing that what you buy and put into your body affects not just you but individual lives around you and around the world.
Good Docs:
"Food Inc." by Robbie Kenner http://www.veoh.com/watch/v20368182MnDqr98W
Okay. Picture time.
Mya and Jimmy are the kids, and Doris is an Austrian physiotherapist who moved out to the country to help build this holistic community "project" when Klas, a Dutch ex-buisiness-man-turned-nomad who bought and settled on this property with a vision in mind.
So though we were insistent on working - because that's what WWOOFing is half about, Klas and Doris were insistent on us exploring the land around us.  So we discovered this "castle"/estate that someone has bought and is refurbishing - huge, but pretty neat.

Front view... Pride and Prejudice, anyone?
One of the things that we thought was hilarious about the "project" (we are still unsure of what that actually means" was that the couple did daily exorcizes that we were welcome to join in (though we never did), including daily interpretive dancing. And at one point Klas joked (to my slight anxiety) about how they were brainwashing us... and then we found ourselves interpretive dancing to music in the forest like everyday..
When dancing in the forest, one must be prepared. Ipod speakers, Zellers, 6 bucks, amazing.

You can interpret Nicole's dancing anyway you wish.

Abandoned hotel in nearby village

The "community" always felt that when going about life, one must "do whatever your heart tells you" ... and so, even though much of the work around the intense project was going unfinished, Klas's heart told him to erect a giant glorified T.P. as a meditation tent, complete with Tibetan chimes, pictured below.
Tibetan chimes, inside meditation tent.
Okay so little Jimmy (actually such a cute kid), who we nicknamed Forrest after his dopiness, sent us into fits of giggles ALL the time, because as he would buzz along mindlessly staring at the sky or shoving things into his mouth without realizing what he was doing, was constantly referred to by his parents as having peace and bliss in his heart and nothing else... when really they weren't stimulating him at all... and thus perhaps making the statement "ignorance is bliss" the truth. The kid was actually hilarious though.

When Dopey looked at us with those eyes at the Disney store in Dublin, we were reminded of our little blissful friend back in France..

Mya, a name that we were told means "dealing with the illusions of life", apparently was "born with psychological unrest and will struggle her entire life because she cried at birth" ....we can see the difference between Jimmy and Mya...crazy kid!

The Garden where Nicole and I tackled the Nettles together. And won - at least for the time being, the Nettles may have a chance now that we've gone.
The Enemy.
Interpretive dance room. I'm not kidding.

Local train station where we arrived and departed from.


Anonymous said...

hey beautiful, please keep blogging, they are beautiful and have so much life in them, I cant wait to catch up in person!

thegraylife said...

Awe! Thanks Girl! Posts like that mean SO much to me, like you don't even know. <3 can't wait to see ya! Hope all is well and that you are keeping as lovely as ever!