The World In Six / Travel

It’s Not Just Dogs Who Wwoof!

I didn’t manage to get to yesterday’s post. Here’s my life in a nutshell. A victim of the economy and an indifferent partner, I quit my legit job just about a year ago so that I could be here for my kids. I do 100% of the parenting 99% of the time (the ex does step in very occasionally; he sends regular support payments and feels this is all that he must do… I say this not out of animosity or anger, but so that I acknowledge both my sacrifice and his contribution; as my sister reminds me, at least he’s not a dead-beat dad, even if he isn’t always present in the kids’ lives). I just couldn’t hack the 60-hour work week and full time single parenting. I quit in part because it wasn’t a job I loved (more on that another day, I suspect), but also because I believe that investing time and effort into my kids is a key part to them becoming good citizens; citizens of this city, this country and this planet.

But I digress…

How do I plan to travel the world? Well, I’m a big “foodie.” I work in sustainable agriculture in several different ways. I am a player in the sustainable food movement in NYC. I am a locavore. I am raising my kids to respect the planet and care about the food that goes into their bodies (not to mention how it is raised, harvested/slaughtered and so forth). Because I am terribly broke, I really cannot afford to take a vacation (I had a house available for me for the summer in Italy, but I don’t have the airfare… c’est la vie… or the Italian equivilent!). Thus, I started asking some of the farmers I work with if I could spend some time on their farms this summer, exchanging work (1/2 time) with room and board. I’ve had two farms (The Piggery and Prospect Hill Orchards) agree. So, I’ll get a two-week “free” vacation. Because my daughter is neither a laborer by nature nor a particularly good candidate for picking raw fruits and vegetables (she has severe allergies and carries an epipen), it is my son who accompanies me on our trips to our CSA farms (if you want to know more about this and read some recipes, you can check out my “other” blog—I have several, hence the quotation marks). I think he’ll thrive in a work/play vacation environment. He may not be the most efficient worker, but he can pick up a chicken and hunt for eggs with the best of them!

So, I was talking to  a colleague of mine, mentioning the whole farm-stay thing, and she said I should check out “woof.” “What?” I asked. “Woof,” she repeated. “W-w-o-o-f-dot-org.” Well, it turns out that wwoof stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which is a world-wide (duh!) organization that connects farmers with workers. The principle is pretty simple: The farmer provides room and board; the resident works a specified number of hours for a specified number of weeks. Work can run the gamut from mending fences to herding sheep to planting/picking crops. My hope is to make my life (and my son’s life) for three years. We’ll work through North America, down through Latin America to South America. Hitch a ride to Africa and work our way up that continent to Europe (depending on the growing season, I’m guessing we’ll tweak the itinerary along the way). It is my idealistic hope that we will be able to get much of our on-continent transportation provided to us and that—being US citizens—our visa issues will be minimal.

I also hope to spend these three years building an audience so that we (my son and I; I see this as a two-person project over the long-term) can pitch a book and hopefully get an advance to cover our travel costs. This is no Eat, Pray, Love. I’m not thinking we’ll get $100,000 to kick back and reflect. I am guessing I will work as hard as I ever have, and my son will work harder than he ever has. I’ve had blisters on my hands; my ds-addicted boy has not. However, I know he has it in him to “get dirty.” My daughter—goddess bless her—does not.

A great friend of mine said today that she thinks this is an amazing idea; that I’ll get both a book deal and a movie out of it. She said Jodie Foster could play me and my daughter could play herself. I laughed at that, if only because it seems too plausible! However, I first need to survive three more years in NYC (I’ve been here for four); they’ve just raised my rent 25 percent (yes, you read that right!). I’m thinking abou moving from Manhattan to Williamsburg. I have a long way to go before I get to the launch of the next chapter of my life.

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