WWOOF - Chamberry, France
Major: Biological Sciences
I spent three weeks this August in a village near Chambery, France working on a small organic vegetable farm through the organization WWOOF (Worldwide Work on Organic Farms). The family of four who hosted me owns and depends on the farm. My co-worker and I spent most of our time harvesting a variety of vegetables. We also weighed and prepared produce for distributions, both at the farm and in nearby towns. When not harvesting and preparing vegetables to be sold, we worked on removing weeds and insects and pruning the plants. While performing these tasks, we learned about the organic food system in France and how a small farm functions economically from Daniel, the farm’s proprietor. In France, “organic” means grown in soil and not treated with synthetic chemicals. Instead, Daniel relies on manual removal of weeds and insects. He also practices techniques such as crop rotation to maximize the fertility of the land. To earn a profit, Daniel sells produce baskets directly to people in the village on a weekly basis, which we helped with. He also distributes his produce baskets at a co-op in a nearby town and delivers vegetables to a store. In order to make his farm financially successful, Daniel participates in labor exchanges, which piqued my interest as a way of reducing the cost of organic farming, and thus of organic food.