After the backpacker bus, our New Zealand travels slowed down a bit. We did our second WWOOFing job, this time at a blueberry and plum orchard in Renwick, right in the middle of all the Marlborough vineyards. We spent 8 lovely days with our hosts, Jennie and Bob at Windsong Orchard, picked lots of blueberries, went to the farmers market with them 3 times and had some amazing food from the garden.
Our first night at the orchard, Jennie and Bob invited us over for dinner with the two other WWOOFers from Germany who were just finishing up their week. It was such a change of pace from being on a bus everyday and staying at different hostels every night, being out all the time. That night we had a home cooked meal, chatted about politics and then went to bed early in our own little blueberry cottage. We immediately fell in love with the place.
While we’ve heard a few horror stories about some WWOOFing sites where people get treated like indentured servants, we were very well taken care of at the orchard. We started our day at 8:30am, walked out of the cottage and about 10 steps right into the blueberry field (best commute ever!). We picked berries by the kilo into little buckets strapped to our waists for 4 hours (during which we listened to podcasts of Democracy Now, This American Life and All Songs Considered) and then we went in for our lunch prepared by our lovely hosts. We had things like fresh baked bread and homemade peach chutney and hummus and almost every day we had the option of artichokes. For breakfast and dinner, unless we all ate together, we got to cook up a storm with greens and herbs from the garden, all the plums and blueberries we could handle and any thing else we needed we just had to ask. Well worth our 4 hours of work.
We spent our afternoons doing whatever we wanted. Mostly we spent time reading and hanging out in the sun. We borrowed their bikes and did a few expeditions, one to a biodynamic winery called Seresin, another to the local swimming hole in the river. Every ride was nice – flat and grapevines as far as the eye can see.
Besides picking berries, we also helped sell fruit at the two farmer’s markets in town. It was very interesting learning about the ins and outs of the community from the eyes of the farmers. In the end, we couldn’t help but think that they had a pretty sweet life, spending their days doing work they love, living a healthy, educated life in a beautiful place. Makes you wonder why people live in huge cities doing jobs they don’t love…
Much love to Jennie and Bob and thanks for having us!