Volunteering Abroad

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Well that’s the end of that. Yesterday we said goodbye to the house and garden and we are nearly ready for volunteering overseas. We did a big harvest and have plenty to keep us going for a while. Laura made some chutney with the surplus green tomatoes. The carrots, parsnips and oca and some of the turnips however just were,nt ready so they will stay. I dug up the Jerusalem artichokes and Yacon which have produced some nice tubers. Plenty more has been distributed to family and friends and I know Ruth will do a great job looking after the pumpkin and hopefully eat it too.
A neighbour offered a few quid for the little demountable greenhouse so that got moved but I have left the polytunnel and dome as well as all the trees and winter veg which would,nt move well anyway.
The past month has been a very busy time, thankfully all the planning is starting to pull together and we can now enjoy a few days with family. The only plan is to take the ferry from Cork to Roscoff on Saturday and a week later begin the first of our volunteering stays with a helpx host in Normandy. The host lives on a 27 acre small holding with woodland and small lake so plenty of jobs to get busy with. On the third week we will be house sitting while our host goes on holidays. We are hoping to learn loads on this trip ,new skills like grafting trees, working with animals and living off the land generally. I’m fascinated to see the different crops being grown in various climatic regions and the variety of growing styles and techniques people use. I,m also really looking forward to learning about regional plants and animals and doing plenty of foraging. In many ways this will be our little “grand tour” made possible by organisations such as helpx and Woofing. In return for 5 to 6 hours work per day, 5 to 6 days a week you get bed and board and tonnes of learning.
The plan beyond all this is literally that there is no plan, we will see what comes our way and who we meet. There are a number of places I would like to volunteer if we are nearby, one being Plants for a future in Cornwall. They take volunteers after April and that would be amazing to see some of the 1700 edible species of plant that Ken and others have gathered at the big field. Would also love to see Martin Crawford forest garden and Sepp Holzers Krameterhoff in Austria. Anyway these are just ideas and if we don’t get to them I,m sure we will have spent our time at equally interesting projects.
To do this trip we have had to give everything up. It is like throwing cards up in the air and seeing where they land , it feels a bit mad, it feels amazing. So much could go wrong or right and who knows where we will end up. The Garden Diary entries from now on will document our experiences as volunteers on various projects abroad.

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