“Dear Mr. Peterson,
I am a recent Earth and Environmental Studies graduate from the ASU Spring Class of 2015. A few years ago (Spring of 2014) I took your Sustainable Food and Farms class as an elective for my Sustainability minor. Even as an Environmental Studies student, I had never really been exposed to the importance of sustainable agriculture, and in particular urban farming, until that semester. Your class really opened my eyes to the value of not only growing food in a sustainable way, but also making wellness and nutrition a bigger part of my life.
During the course you introduced the subject of WWOOFing in one of your lectures, which immediately hooked me. I had never heard of the program before, but immediately went home to look it up online and learn more. The idea of WWOOFing to learn more about sustainable food, hands on, became one of my bucket list goals. Unfortunately, financially I couldn’t find a way to make it happen at the time. For a while, WWOOFing was off the table, though still always in the back of my mind. I graduated and got a job working for an environmental non-profit in the Rocky Mountains that focused on education and community outreach.
However, I met a co-worker at my job who I immediately connected with over our shared interest in WWOOFing. After some careful consideration, we decided to put developing our careers on hold in order to make our WWOOFing dream a reality. After the summer season ended at the non-profit, I worked two jobs for eight months to fund my trip before I embarked with my co-worker this past May, on a six-month WWOOFing journey through France, Switzerland and Italy. I had the opportunity to work on two permaculture farms in France where I learned the secrets of permaculture design, forest foraging, propagation, and planting principles. I also learned the art of sustainable construction, home gardening, dairy farming, and preserves in Switzerland, and I participated in wine making, grape harvest and olive harvest in Italy’s Tuscan region.
Spending six months volunteering on organic farms was hard work, since everything is done by hand. As someone who hadn’t done much gardening before, I was overwhelmed at times. However, this was the most exciting and important adventure of my life thus far. Traveling in Europe was fantastic in itself, but what really inspired me was being exposed to food and sustainable living from new perspectives and having the opportunity to develop learning relationships with organic farmers. Europeans see food from a completely different angle than we do in America. Being immersed in organic farming and different food cultures changed me as a person as well as the role that food will play in my life moving forward. I am now interested in pursuing a career focused on sustainable urban farming because all I want to do is learn more and start growing food!
This trip opened my eyes so much, and it all started with one lecture in your class three years ago. I just wanted to thank you for sharing WWOOFing as part of your curriculum. I hope your future students will experience the same attraction to sustainable food and farming that I did and try WWOOFing for themselves!