Last week we enjoyed a visit from a new WWOOFer named Chaoshuo who hails from the People’s Republic of China by way of the University of Connecticut where he’s studying ag economics.
OK, so that last couple of words in his introduction made us nervous. We know the prevailing ag econ paradigm leaves no room for the things we believe in – facts, empirical evidence, on-the-ground observations, an understanding of human beings and the way they make decisions in real life. Certainly little to no room for anything but the industrial ag model. But Chaoshuo told us he wanted to meet real organic farmers and live on a real organic farm.
We explained that we’re not real organic farmers, (we are officially beginning organic farmers with our orchard project but that’s not what most people think of when they hear “organic farm”). Instead, we introduced him to others. He learned how to slaughter a ram from Kerri and Todd Leach at Leachfields Farm and lots of chickens from Greg and Katie at Lipes Family Farm, and he helped harvest garlic at Echollective. He also got a tour of Versaland where he learned about perennial organic agriculture with Grant Schultz and his crew. Then he came back to our place and worked with the slash from our orchard prep, branches that are quickly being consumed by an energetic prairie!
Here he is helping load and trim a stack to take up to our soil retention walls. Our ag econ major turned out to be as much anthropologist as he is economist and a wonderful guest and new friend as well.
If you’re interested in volunteering with us or “real organic farmers,” check out wwoofusa.org. We’ve had great experiences and met some wonderful wwoofers over the last four summers.