Shortly after our arrival in Bucharest, I began the search for a Romanian WWOOF. No, that is not some cutesy term for dog, like pupper or doggo. WWOOF stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms and represents farms all over the world that accept volunteers. The usual arrangement is that you exchange your work on the farm for room and board.
Generally the farms are focused on organic farming, perma-culture, and environmentally responsible practices. In some countries the farm must (I think) be certified organic, but not in Romania.
I sent out 6 emails to farms that were in the Brasov area and looked like they might have accommodation for a family of four. Two farms replied (as of the writing of etc.), one for immediately and one for Sept-Oct.
We emailed back and forth to figure out arrival times and directions with Agnes at her farm, called Albastrea. They were having a raspberry festival that we had hoped to attend, but it clashed with a visit in Brasov from my university buddy Razvan.
We arrived the day after the raspberry party and instead arrived just in time for a spectacular thunderstorm complete with hail and horizontal rain. The local villagers say they haven’t seen a storm like that in 50 years.
Agnes explained the arrangement to us. Free accommodation in exchange for cleaning and renovations to the small cottage we’d be staying in. They had purchased it a year ago and it has stood empty since then except for a week when extended family were visiting.
Our hosts Agnes and Jan had their hands full for a couple of days, pumping out their flooded outbuildings and checking the crops for damage, so we set to cleaning. Four days later we were done inside the house and made a good start on the front garden and forest of stinging nettle outside.
Since then we’ve helped Agnes fix the plumbing in “our” house, we’ve picked choke berries and beans of all colours, and we’ve hosted the local mini-flock of sheep in our yard. It’s been terrific, and the kids love it! I can’t believe how much they love to pick berries; they even toughed out two hours of bean picking in the rain!
The village is called Sarata-Colun (with some accents on the a’s) and it’s about halfway between Brasov and Sibiu. It’s not far from the famous Trans-Fagarasan highway (boondoggle) built by the Ciaucescu government. The entire place is built along the banks of a little stream. One lane on each side and a bunch of little bridges accross. There’s one and a half shops for food, no restaurants, and that’s it.
You want gas? Next town. You want broccoli? Even farther. A carton of soy milk? Day trip.
That said, we love it here. It’s quiet, there’s more horse and wagon traffic than cars. Our wonderful hosts stop by to check the sheep and ask “Do you like corn?” The kids scream “Yeeeeessssss!!!” and they stop by later with a crate of corn, peppers, onions, and tomatoes. All organic, all from their garden.
Tomorrow we’re picking tomatoes and we might install a counter-top to make our kitchen a little more user-friendly. We’ve got hot water now and our cupboards are full. What more could anyone want?