So, let me be honest, the idea of working on an organic farm for 2 weeks wasnt necessarily high on my list. There were a few things that concerned me, one was, the lack of meat on the menu for that time. Other than that, I wasnt overly concerned. By the end of our time there, it was really quite special to have spent so much time in such a beautiful place. Yes it was a farm, a working organic farm, and we learned so much. Our day basically went as follows:
07:30 – Wake up
08:00 Breakfast – consisting of homemade bread, Jam, Oatmeal and Te Negro (Black tea)
09:00 Work assignments handed out and that could range from weeding the beds in the veggie garden (a large veggie garden) to picking raspberries, cleaning certain areas, making adobe bricks etc etc
09:10 – 13:00 Work!
13:00 Lunch – always a hot cooked meal which could comprise of lentils, potatoe bake, veggie stew, millet casserole and so on, sometime with rice and other accompaniments
14:00 – 16:00 – Siesta time, literally
16:00 – 20:00 Work
20:30 – Dinner time
230:00 Bed Time
We were only working half day on the farm, so generally after lunch we had time off, so we relaxed, read our books, typed up blogs, edited photos etc.
The farm, as I said, is a working farm and so it generates income off the produce. A lot of the fruit is made into jams or preserves and sold in the local town up the road called El Bolson. The nearest town is El Hoyo, but it really is very small, so not much of a market there. Most of the tourists end up in El Bolson and that is where a lot of the produce is sold. The veggies and fruit really is very good and very fresh and of course all natural, so no chemicals or pesticides have been used in growing the produce.
We were on the farm with about 10 other volunteers, 5 of them were from the USA andthe rest were from France. This made for many interesting chats as the French group could not speak much English apart from one of the girls, Lena, who was actually very fluent, more fluent than she let us know. Then the USA group, all girls, were mostly out of college and travelling for the next few months before they returned to the US.
We had a lot of fun and laughter, two of the French guys were highly talented musicians, Nico was a really good guitarist, so good that he could listen to a song one or two times and begin to pluck it out on a guitar. Antoine made music with just about anything, he turned pots into drums, PVC pipes into Didgeridoos and he had a mouth organ which he played with great aplomb. It was really amazing to be sitting around after dinner listening to an informal jam session that they would strike up…
The scenery at Chacra Millalen really stole the show. The farm is surrounded by beautiful rugged peaks that seem to push up effortlessly from the valley. In the distance are snow capped mountains and just beyond that the border with Chile. The valley is green and lush and is home to a lot of cherry, raspberry and strawberry farming, so it really is a great place to have a farm. Also, there are plenty of horses in the area, we would be walking down the country road and two horses, by themselves, would amble by along the road…really rural, but very very pretty.
The owners of the farm we also such lovely people, Fabio (who didnt speak any English unfortunately) had a lovely open and smily face and was always joking and making people laugh, Josephine who is fluent in English, Swiss, German, French and Spanish is always in control of what is happening in her garden. Every afternoon, she would walk through the garden with her clipoard and make notes of what needs to be done next.
Overall we had a great time at the farm, and learnt a lot about how things get done on an organic farm, a good experience and as always, great new friendships were made..