Monday, November 19, 2012

Especially in Northern Italy, WWOOFing is not to be missed

Post courtesy of Annie Steeves, Health Management & Policy and EcoGastronomy Dual Major.
Before meeting up with my EcoG peers, I WWOOFed in Northern Italy for about 16 days at the end of summer. My cousin joined me on this adventure. What an experience we had! The farm was called “Oasi di biodiversita di Galbusara Bianca”, it’s a 20 hectare farm, 10 of which are cultivated, and 10 are woodland. It is situated in a beautiful Park, Parco di Montvecchia, in the Valley del Curone. So we were surrounded by beautiful hills and farms. It’s about one hour north of Milan. The farm prides themselves on their diversity of fruit, they have over 30 varieties of figs, which we picked almost every morning. I had never tried a fresh fig before… what a place to change that! The farm also had a relatively new restaurant, which they tried, to source completely from their land. While we were there, they hosted three weddings (in three straight days!!). It was a lot of work, but was cool to witness the celebrations and help prepare the foods.

WWOOFing  (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is an amazing experience that everyone should take advantage of. It’s focused on learning methods of organic farming. First-hand experience is invaluable, and the best part is that it is free! The farmers need the help, there’s never nothing to do!  In exchange for help, farmers provide food and accommodation. There are WWOOF farms all around the world, and stays range from a few days to years!  Check out WWOOF’s website for more info:
The many fig and apple trees on the property.

This was hung on every tree, as a bug repellent.
 It was a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and water 
to attract and kill bugs… it actually worked quite well!
One day’s worth of figs after being sorted.

Neighbor’s grapes

SO many interesting, crazy varieties of tomatoes
We thought it was pretty comical that their tractor was a Lamborghini… we ARE in Italy!
One of the wedding cakes. 
They don’t have traditional wedding cakes, 
this was very delicious and rich chocolate cake. 
It was served one per table, no plates. 
Everyone at the table was given a fork, 
and it was shared among the guests. 
Think this would fly at a US wedding?
One of the weddings had fig tarts instead of cake. 
All the figs are from the farm and they are over an apple purée.

We helped make sauce one day… step one MASH.
The farm also made sorbetti with all their fruit. We were somehow convinced to go to the market in Milan one evening, where we were left alone with the sorbetti cart. It was an interesting experience, as we barely knew a word of Italian!
We visited Bergamo on one of our day’s off. This is “lardo”. May not sound appetizing, but it is absolutely delicious! It’s very thinly sliced cured pork fat layered over a thin bread. The fat literally melts in your mouth. So good.
Burratta… perhaps the biggest burratta I will ever experience. It’s a fresh Italian cheese, with an outer layer of mozzerella. The inside is mozzarella curd which has been soaked in cream, it’s so rich and delicious!!
A neighbor’s horse farm.

The farm seen from the top of a neighbor’s vineyard.

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