Thursday, February 26, 2009

Greetings from Massachusetts!

Welcome to our friends and family from Jenny...

& Matt

This is the blog that we will be writing in from now through November to chronicle our farming adventures in Spain, France, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, and any other places where we may end up.

For those of you who know one of us but not the other, please accept a hearty handshake and howdy do. Our story: the two of us became acquainted at Overlook Farm in central Massachusetts in May, and as the summer progressed discovered our mutual interests in organic living and Europe. After spending enough time together to realize that we could spend eight months farming in Europe we decided to go for it.

We will write in this blog as often as we can throughout our journey. Tonight's post will be a bit longer than many that will follow, as we are not yet dealing with the monetary or time constraints of Internet Cafes (European computer labs) and other surprises (the birth of a lamb, the need to catch a bus, etc). Our future posts will also be different from this one as they will feature photographs of recent adventures and discoveries (holy cows, magnificent cheeses, new friends, etc).

Our departure date is March 11th, 2009, meaning that a few nights' time will find us flying across the ocean, rather than sitting in a room surrounded by camping gear and new sandals. We will arrive in Barcelona around noon on the 12th, jet-lagged and hopefully a bit bright-eyed, and will make our way to a midwife and her partner who will be hosting us for our first three days on the continent. We look forward to seeing Gaudi's architecture and very old houses and saying mas despacio, por favor ("speak slower, please!").

After Barcelona we will be working on two farms in France. The first is an olive farm in Laroque Des Alberes, in the Pyrénées-Orientales region of the country. To those of you who do not know France's geography, this is a few kilometers from the sea and a hop skip and jump from the Spanish border. We will be there until April 5th or so, after which we will travel to the Alps to work on an herb farm 20 minutes' drive from Geneva, Switzerland. We will spend the remainder of April tending, gathering, drying, and packaging herbs. May will find us at a sheep dairy in Italy, which also runs a small restaurant where Matt (an excellent cook with a degree in culinary arts) will be spending time in the kitchen. Both of us will milk the sheep, make cheese, and hopefully play with as many lambs as possible.

Our next three months will be spent in the UK, though we are not yet sure of our exact itinerary, except that we will travel to London on June 11, and will leave the region after three months. We plan on spending the majority of our time in Ireland, but look forward to seeing Britain and Scotland as well. We look forward to seeing American friends who will be visiting the UK this summer, as well as seeing our friend Erin, who is pursuing her doctorate at Cambridge, and some of Matt's relatives, who operate a peat farm in County Kerry.

Our September and October will be spent in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain. We will be spending time in Paris with one of Jenny's family friends and continue farming, most likely assisting with the grape and olive harvests. On November 11th we will again find ourselves in an airplane, flying home. We have not yet decided what we will do upon our return to the states.

Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF, is the organization that we have used to find farms to work at. We are also members of the Couchsurfing community, through which we found our Spanish hosts. To keep this post from getting too long-winded, we'll refrain from writing too much about these organizations, and suggest that you go to their websites if interested in learning more. You can also email either Matt or Jenny for more information. For those of you who would like to know about what we are packing and the sort of gear we're bringing, as well as resources we have used, please feel free to ask about these as well. If enough people are interested we could put up an entry of helpful websites and books.

We look forward to sharing our experiences with you. If you have a suggestion, new address (we write postcards!), or will be in Europe this year (!!), please either email us or leave a comment. Take care, and if you ever feel like sharing a story from your lives, please do. We will miss you!

With Love,
Matt and Jenny

Below, pictures of us in Boston