I’ve been meaning to write a summary of my WWOOF experience for the past couple weeks, but just haven’t had the motivation to sit down and start it…until now.. I wanted to keep a blog about my experiences both to inform those interested about my whereabouts and whatabouts, but also to give others who might be interested in WWOOFing an insider’s perspective. For those who have never heard of WWOOF, it stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The basic premise of this community is this: Organic farms host volunteers in exchange for room and board; the volunteers work an agreed upon number of hours per week and in return receive two or three meals per day, a place to stay, and as much knowledge as they are willing and able to squeeze out of their hosts. Each farm is different and offers different educational opportunities. People WWOOF for a number of reasons: As means to see the world, to learn about organic farming and sustainable living, or to simply experience a different way of life. These were my main motivations for WWOOFing.
Right now my fellow WOOFer, Rachel, and I are halfway through week three of our six week trip. The trip began with a series of bad omens. For starters, before we even embarked, I got lost and had to turn around multiples times trying to find Rachel’s house in the North (or was it Northwest?) suburbs of Chicago. This mini-epic set the theme for the rest of our trip thus far. As of right now I don’t think we’ve gotten to a single destination without having to turn around and correct our course. After making it to Rachel’s house, making countless wrong turns, patching a flat tire, and finally, ten hours in to a six-and-a-half hour drive, swapping out Rachel’s again flat tire for a spare, we reached our destination: the Land of the Arches campground in Campton, KY.
Land of the Arches
Land of the Arches is a campground, primarily for climbers, whose owner, Dave Terrill, is attempting to start a small, simple, organic garden to both help feed his patrons and encourage them to do the same in their own homes (if they have one). We were the first WWOOFers Dave had ever had and he was a bit unprepared to say the least. Rachel and I had planned to stay for two weeks at Land of the Arches, but in the end opted to leave a week early for our next farm in Wildwood, GA. Dave definitely had vision and a lot of ideas, but he ended up not being that efficient at managing our team of two. About half the days we were there he ended up just giving us the day off, which wasn’t all bad. We got a free place to stay, a bunkroom that would usually run us $8/night/person, and free food for a week. And we climbed a lot, and with much guilt. I forgot to mention, Land of the Arches is located in one of the best climbing spots in the country, the Red River Gorge. We weren’t completely undeserving of our accommodations though; we did manage to accomplish a few things in our time there. Most notably, we built a compost bin out of a huge old plastic container in order to cut down on food waste from the campers. It was probably the most basic compost design you can think of. Aside from that, we renovated an old plastic deer, the kind hunters use for target practice or whatever they do with them, and decided it would be the new Land of the Arches campground mascot. After screwing its limbs back on and cleaning it off a bit, we took pictures of it doing various things around the campground in order to spice up the LOTA Facebook page a bit and hopefully attract more campers.
Here the deer signs in and beats me in air hockey
All in all, Land of the Arches was not what I was expecting when I imagined how my WWOOFing trip would go, but we did get to meet lots of climbers from all over the country, get together at a local burger joint to watch this years Reel Rock film (a climbing movie that tours the country every year), and climb more than we expected. It was worth leaving early, though, as the next farm we would be at, well, actually was a farm. That is where we are now, and I’ll save it for the next post.
Dave with the deer
As a final note (shameless plug), I would like to say that I highly recommend the Land of the Arches campground to the Red River Gorge climber seeking something a bit more scenic, secluded, and private than Miguel’s pizza/campground. It’s much less crowded, and for $5/night you get free hot showers and Wi-Fi. To keep you entertained on a rainy day or rest day there is a little bouldering wall, a ping pong table, foosball table, a wide selection of books and games. Not to mention, Dave is one of the nicest, friendliest guys you will ever meet and makes an effort to get to meet each one of his patrons, which is something you won’t likely get from Miguel (don’t get me wrong, I still love Miguel’s).
More to come soon.