Squeezing the most out of life | An Aussie and a Colombian living life with a wandering spirit. Eight years together & over 60 countries up our sleeves, we're sharing the love |

Diggin’ the organic farm life: wwoofing in Cordoba

Collecting water from the well wasn’t exactly something I could have said I’d done lately. As virgin wwoofers we where in need of a patient and mature teacher. And as it worked out, Shamballah just happened to be the idyllic setting for our first time working on a farm.

After three months of impersonating slugs in Buenos Aires, we where looking forward to getting outside and reminding ourselves of the sun. At the same time, kind of scared about being physically capable of doing anything to help the good farming locals of San Marcos Sierras. Lifting butter laden pastries in recent times, clearly doing nothing to prep ourselves for the farm experience.

We, (actually just me) where worried about nothing. In fact, our understanding of the benefits of lazing the afternoon away are actually respected talents in these parts. We landed in our element.

But down to work! The San Marcos Sierras earth is harsh, expertly doing it’s best to whip us into some kind of shape. It’s also the perfect gnarly world to take any ‘lady angst’ out on with a machete. Hacking your way through the day in a silent landscape being my preferred ‘I need to get away from everybody’ option. I’ve also realised you can’t make friends with cacti and that thongs just don’t cut it everywhere.

Our skin looks like leather from the dusty surrounds, and ripped apart by aggressive desert bushes, thorns and general misadventure. It’s been the ultimate chance to wash off the city. Like happy creekside children we have been playing with ginormous piles of horse poo laden mud!

The beautiful thing about WWOOFing (Worldwide Workers On Organic Farms) is, that it’s mutually beneficial on so many levels. The owners of an organic property provide food and a bed in exchange for work. Workers get a free Argentinian home experience, an education about anything from Permaculture to Viticulture, and the experience of living communally with international wanderers.

Options for living in a different type of  way are part of the subtle lesson. Growing and building locally to support the village economy, resourcing most building materials from the land itself, and constructing everything in a way that minimises the environmental footprint. Seeing how a group of people can come together, embrace and ignore each others cultural differences, sleep in the same space, eat together, and work to make something functional, is all inspiring for me. I know it’s nothing new, but it’s the first time I’ve ever been as impressed by the synergy of communal space.

My appreciation might have a lot to do with the chilled owners, the abundance of animals on the property, or the dry and sunny landscape. But I felt myself smiling from my tent, enjoying the absolute contrast from our recent city pad to a 40 horse town.

Another bonus is the lack of dosh required. We’ve been spending the equivalent of a coffee in Australia, between the two of us, per day. There is no where to really go out, nature becomes the tv and the afternoon siesta after working physically, becomes the delicious new hobby.

The drill looks like this: Wake about 8am and do some light stuff, maybe feeding the horses or collecting poo, before a bowel loving porridge breakfast aroung 9-ish. Off to the site to work for about 5 hours. Stomping clay to make mud brick, collecting straw, clearing the landscape, or hand making earthy walls. Return for a late lunch to a massive vegetarian chow and the rest of the day is free to wander. An alternative day might be staying in the kitchen and preparing lunch for everyone – my personal fave. Same again 6 days a week with Sunday off.

Update: As an added creative bonus we got to design the website for Shamballa Permaculture during our last week, plus some other online projects. Another way of wwoofing in exchange for skills that works out well for everyone. I created the logo graphics and took some of the photos, and Andres did the IT for the WordPress site here. Photos from San Marcos Sierras and Shamballa Permaculture farm here.


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There are 4 Comments to "Diggin’ the organic farm life: wwoofing in Cordoba"

  • Keith says:

    Sounds marvelous! What was the minimum stay there?

  • sporks says:

    There is no minimum stay really, but the owners prefer people to stay long enough to get involved with a project and feel like they have created something before moving on. There have also been long term stayers of two months or more. Love it. Not long till you arrive in BA hey Keith – have fun!

  • laurence says:

    Hello there, I’ve just got my wwoof pass and I’ve just started preparing the big voyage! This page makes me want to be in Argentina right now! I’m planning a minimum of 1 year in South America… see all the countries there… i don’t see any thing about any kind of injections we might need? or is this optional? Anyone knows what is needed? The plan is to see a lot of wildlife, sceneries, …. everything!!! cheers.

  • sporks says:

    You’re right to be excited Laurence! Jump in to WWOOFing – it’s a great way to travel cheaply, learn and live with other travellers. As far as vaccinations go I’m pretty sure most countries are different – some have a compulsory Yellow Fever shot to enter. Things change so probably best to check with a Travel Doc is our advise. Have fun!

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