We’d love to introduce you to our first WWOOFer. WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOF connects farms with those interested in learning more about them and their practices.
Hailing from the farming community of Winsted in central Minnesota, Alayna Karas has a first-person perspective of modern farming. Karas grew up learning the techniques her parents, and her parents’ parents (and THEIR parents) have been using for over one hundred years.
Yet, despite living on a century farm, bucking tradition seems to be in Karas’ nature. As a child, all of her siblings were expected to do their share of chores. One of these chores, Karas shared, was to take a calf, nurture it to maturity, and then eventually butcher it. She laughed as she told me that she could never bring herself to take that last step.
“My parent’s just admitted that I wouldn’t do it,” Karas laughed. “I’m sure my cow is still alive and running around the farm.”
It seems that Karas has embraced the ability to see what works for her and what doesn’t, and she saw something in her community that wasn’t working.
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Welcome Alayna, our first #wwoofer. She's planning on being here a week, so we've got no time to lose to teach her everything we can. 🙂 You'll also see Allison smirking as Jim comes from the kitchen bringing cupcakes for the crew. And finally, you'll see the beautiful heads of lettuce picked this morning for our weekly #csa.
“My life goal is to change the area I’m from,” Karas said. “Farmers in my home area are set in their traditional methods and I see that there’s room for improvement.”
Karas wants to bring her experiences back to Winsted, where traditional farming practices have strong roots. Yet, Karas believes that there is a better way.
“I want to bring back what I’ve learned, get other farmers in my home area to focus on new practices, things like biodynamics and permaculture that seem to have disappeared from modern farms,” says Karas.
With plans to participate at several farms in Minnesota, then Oregon, and then inevitabley in New Zealand at the end of the summer as part of the WWOOF-New Zealand program, Karas will get plenty of opportunities to learn many techniques.
Food and Water Security Coordinator, Jim Chamberlin says of the WWOOFing experience, “You don’t just show up at these farms. You’re not just a tourist. You are immersed in the culture. You become part of the farming family. That’s where you get most of your experience in the WWOOF program.”
From the WWOOF FAQ,
“WWOOF specializes in linking people who are passionate about healthy food, healthy living and a healthy planet. Formally called “Working Weekends on Organic Farms”, WWOOF came into being in Autumn 1971, in England and when the demand for longer periods occurred, the name was changed to “Willing Workers on Organic Farms”. Since then, in recognition of the world wide nature of the organization and the confusion caused by the word “work”, WWOOF now stands for “WORLD WIDE OPPORTUNITIES on ORGANIC FARMS.”
If you’d like to learn more about the WWOOF program, you can go to http://www.wwoofusa.org.