We are about to set off an another one of our Turkish adventures. This time we are going to go WWOOFing. WWOOF is an acronym that stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and it is frequently used as a verb by those who participate as volunteers or guests. WWOOF is a loose network of national organizations that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms.
Narköy's tented greenhouse
The Turkish brand of WWOOF calls themselves Bugday (wheat in Turkish) or TaTuTa. Their website, Bugday.org, isn't particularly user-friendly until you've paid membership dues (45USD/person) and then you've earned access to the details of over 80 organic farms across Turkey. Our first attempt to WWOOF begins on April 1st at Narköy Çiftlik (Pomegranate Village Farm), a farm in Kandira, Kocaeli near the Black Sea, just one and half hours north of Istanbul. One previous volunteer had this to say about Narköy: "Beautiful spot and super-nice owners and staff. There's a variety of things to do and learn." And while the listed volunteer duties for April indicate we will be harvesting and planting, one can never be quite sure what exactly is in store when you are earning your housing and meals through farm work. We are after all working six days a week, five hours a day for our stay.
The last basil plant that I killed, taken before it died.
I've never considered myself a gardener, and frankly I am more inclined to believe I have more of a black-thumb than a green one. I've killed three (or more) basil plants during my two years living on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. I even have limited success with cactus, and they tolerate water-deprivation and neglect as long as they are somewhere near accessible sunlight. To say the least, I'm a bit nervous about all that WWOOF might have in store for me. My Peace Corps motto may serve me well while I am at Narköy: try everything once. So I'll hold true to that motto once again since, after all, it is only a three-week commitment and I can do anything for three weeks. I think fun, experiential learning, and light-hearted spontaneity is in store for me these next three weeks.
***Note: due to unforeseen events, we only stayed at Narköy Çiftlik for a day and then returned home to Istanbul. The farm itself was beautifully kept and serene; and the Narköy staff were incredibly hospitable, happy and generous. We thank them for their understanding and wish them a fruitful planting season!