We cannot say it enough, spending the month of June 2013 WWOOFing on Nalolicious Farm in Hawaii was one of the best experiences of our lives, hands down. We got to learn all about organic aquaponic farming, met a group of really amazing people, and explored the stunning island of Oahu for little more than the cost of airfare.
I feel like we came to the farm pretty well prepared considering it was our first time WWOOFing and we didn’t quite know what to expect. However, in hindsight, there are a few things we could have brought with us that would have made our experience a bit easier and perhaps more enjoyable.
We’ve been asked a number of times what gear is necessary to bring along with you. Unfortunately it’s impossible to say with 100% certainty what you’ll need since every farm provides different accommodations and the climate of the farms vary significantly. We can, however, provide a list of items we brought along with us, as well as some things we really wish we would have thought to bring. This list just might save you from spending a month sleeping on an inflatable pool raft. We’re not knocking it, since it was actually quite comfortable, but we would have definitely preferred a more durable sleeping mat.
So, without further adieu, here is our list of ten items we recommend you bring with you on your WWOOFing adventure. It is very specific to Hawaii’s climate and the farm we worked on, but you get the point.
1) Sleeping Bag:
If you are someone who tends to get hot at night, might consider the ALPS Mountaineering Summer Sleeping Bag. It’s super lightweight at only 2lbs 7oz and meant for temperatures of 55+. On Oahu the temperature usually dipped down to the low seventies at night, so it was still pretty warm in our tent. You may only want a light covering, so this is your best bet.
However, if you like a little more fluff to your sleeping bag, the Coleman Clear Lake Warm Weather Sleeping bag is a little bit heavier at 5.4 lbs, but is insulated better than the ALPS bag.
2) Sleeping Mat:
As far as sleeping mats go, a self-inflatable, lightweight mat would be the best choice. Look for a mat that is around 2 lbs or under and rolls up for easy packing. The Fox Outfitters Ultralight Self-Inflating Mattress would be an excellent choice.
3) Battery-Operated Fan:
A fan is not necessary. We got by fine without one. But there were a few hot nights spent lying on top of our sleeping bags wishing we would have thought to bring one. If you’re one of those people who needs to be cool as a cucumber while you sleep, we strongly recommend a clip-style fan like this one.
A flashlight will do in a pinch, but a headlamp will come in handy on early morning harvesting days and sunrise hikes. OR, if you’re crazy enough to climb the famous Haiku Stairs, or “Stairway to Heaven.”
5) Gardening gloves:
Organic farms obviously do not use any pesticides, so that means WEEDS! You’ll spend a lot of time weeding beds, so bring a pair of gloves that you don’t mind getting really really dirty.
6) Environmentally Friendly Bug Spray
Protecting yourself against mosquitoes, ticks, and other potentially disease-carrying insects is always a smart move. While working on an organic farm you may find that dousing yourself in DEET is quite frowned upon. It’s your own personal health and safety, so you do what you think is best, but just know that there are some environmentally friendly options out there. When we were visiting the North Shore our host made us a bug repellent of citronella and lemongrass essential oils and olive oil and it worked fantastically! Mountain Rose Herbs is a great source for essential oils, if you’re into mixing up a batch.
If you’re hesitant to go the DIY route, try a bug spray with Picaridin. According to Good Guide it is a safer alternative to DEET.
7) Organic Sunscreen
Again, it’s always a good idea to stay away from chemical-laden products, sunscreen included. This Badger SPF 30 ranks high on Good Guide (As you can probably tell, we trust them as a source for personal care products.) and is lightly scented with organic lavender oil.
8) Reusable Water Bottle
This actually should be the number one item to bring. On the farm you go nowhere without your water bottle. It follows you to breakfast, stays with you throughout your farm chores, and sits by your side at the dinner table. We’re big fans of Kleen Kanteen. This 40-ounce bottle will certainly keep you well hydrated throughout the day.
9) Quick Dry Clothing
We opted not to purchase any quick dry clothing, but you may want to if you mind the occasional soggy t-shirt. Our farm did have a washer and dryer, but hand washing and line drying was the preferred method. After a big wash day I often found myself grabbing some still damp clothing from the line. It wasn’t always the nicest feeling, so maybe a quick dry t-shirt or two would have been nice to have.
10) A few “non-farm” outfits to wear when you want a night on the town
After a week of wearing the same shorts and t-shirt every day, it felt nice to dress up a bit and hit the town. The majority of your time on the farm will be spent shoveling manure and digging in the dirt, so we’d suggest bringing only one or two nicer outfits.
Other items to note are a hat, beach towel (one that can double as bath towel) a day pack, flip flops (or slippers, as they’re called in Hawaii), and hiking shoes.
If you’d like to learn more about WWOOFing, there are some great books available out there. We recommend:
The Practical Guide to WWOOFing: Volunteering with W.W.O.O.F by A. Greenman
Growing with the Organic Movement: Perspectives from WWOOF Farms in the USA by Camille B. Glenn
WWOOFing Adventures Down Under: Living and Working on 36 Organic Farms in Australia and New Zealand by Steffen Mirsky
Farming Around the Country: An Organic Odyssey by Brian J. Bender
I hope this helps answer some of your questions about what to pack for your first WWOOFing adventure. If you’ve WWOOFed before, please weigh in below and help fill in anything we may have left out.
Last weekend our friend Greta kidnapped us for a few hours and dragged us to Port Costa. Totally against our will! (Juuuust kidding!) We had no idea where it was, what it was, or why we were going, but boy were we surprised when it turned out to be the kitschiest and teeniest little town we’ve ever seen!
Our first stop was Port Costa’s only coffee shop, which is located inside the town’s only hotel, The Burlington Hotel. Greta introduced us to the owner Earl who, for all we know may be the town’s only Earl. I wouldn’t doubt it. Earl made us three glasses of his delicious pour over coffee. Caffeinated, of course, because the town refuses all decaf coffee, a ban that has my full support! What’s the point in decaf coffee? I will never understand, nor do I want to try.
The cafe serves just a few things: pour over coffee, tea, hot cocoa, pound cake and cornbread drizzled with honey made by Earl and his partner, and (OMG) bacon. What more could you really need, right?
Earl was nice enough to open the hotel for us so we could poke around.
The 130 year old hotel was rumored to have once been a brothel, hence the ladies’ names on the door. And double hence my inviting stance in the photo above. If I were an old-timey lady of the night I’d totally be raking in the dough with that ankle cross.
Next door to the hotel is the Bull Valley Roadhouse, also owned by Earl and his partner. I really wish we could have eaten here, but Mark had a shoot to get to later in the day so we weren’t able to stick around for dinner. We’ll be back for brunch though because, well, I’ll just copy and paste some of the menu items here for you: fried chicken tenders and cheddar waffle, honey butter, maple / cornmeal and rye waffle, fuji apple, toasted almond, sea salt caramel, whipped cream / slow roasted llano seco pork stew, bloody butcher corn polenta, tomatillo, guajillo chile, sour cream, fried egg. Need I say more?
The Port Costa Village Hat Shoppe. I don’t wear hats, so this place did little for me. You might wear hats, so it may be worth your time. Also, secret bottles of liquor seem to be placed around the shop. You might be into secretly drinking liquor AND wearing hats. If that’s the case this is the shop for you, my friend!
Walking into the Theatre of Dreams really was like walking into a dream world. The best way I can describe it is part Nightmare Before Christmas, part Mary Poppins, part Big Fish, part Wizard of Oz. Does that make sense? Probably not, but just trust me on this one. I wish Mark would have taken more pictures but he was sort of scolded by the lady running the shop for attempting to do so. Apparently the artist is afraid of people not giving her proper credit and ripping off her designs. So let me just say, Wendy Addison of Theatre of Dreams in Port Costa, California: your shop is fantastical.
Next we headed over to the Warehouse Cafe. This biker bar/restaurant/tiki shop/arcade/vintage store is pretty….well, over-stimulating is one way to put it, I guess. There’s a 16 foot stuffed polar bear on display in a giant glass case and they have over 300 different kinds of beers. So bears, beers, bikers. This place has it all.
Port Costa, you totally weird town, you. I can’t wait to kidnap a group of unsuspecting visitors and drag them back here!
It sure has been a while since I posted. It has also been a while since we went on the trip to Big Sur I’m about to share with you, but oh well. Things have been busy with Mark’s school things and my work things, plus freelance things we’ve both been picking up on the side. The dream of living a simple life far away from this rat race is definitely calling our names louder now than ever before. Get. Us. Out. Of. Here.
Soon, guys. Soon. Seven months left in his program and then we can plan our next big adventure. Who knows where we’ll go, but you can bet we’ll go! Can’t stop, won’t stop, and all that crap.
Anyway, a long weekend escape to Big Sur was just what we needed. A chance for some peace and quiet away from the traffic, the buses, the people, the dull roar of everyday life here in Berkeley. There are times when I think this is such a quiet town, but other times when I can’t seem to drown out the noise. (Like, do people ALWAYS have to rustle through our recycling bins EVERY Sunday night?? Arrgggh!) I know at times like these I really need to get away. The thought of going high up in the mountains always appeals to me when I start to feel like this. Being surrounded by redwoods, where the air just feels so clean, is exactly where I long to be.
And so, we went! We found a last-minute campsite in Big Basin and camped our little hearts out. We cooked over the fire, hiked to a waterfall, slept under the stars. All that good stuff that makes a person feel alive. We breathed in deep because that air just feels like it must be curing you of something.
Poor Penelope wasn’t allowed on any of the trails, so we improvised with this way-too-small pet carrier. Technically she was hovering over the trails, not actually on the trails. Muah-ha-ha. We’re so rebellious and badass. Can’t tell us what to do with our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
The next morning we drove through Big Sur, stopping whenever the hell we felt the urge to take in the incredible views. It bums me out a bit because these photos just don’t do it justice! Unfortunately, it was overcast while we were there, but still! Still it was breathtaking! There’s something so wild and untamed about this landscape. The jagged rocks, the looming cliffs, the violent ocean, it just makes you feel alive and free!
We saw four California Condors perched in a tree on the side of the road! These became extinct in 1987, but a few were reintroduced to the wild in 1991. They are one of the world’s rarest birds, which we learned after some furious Googling what the heck they were.
Now this was probably my most favorite view of the whole trip: McWay Falls. I’m a sucker for turquoise water and anywhere it looks like mermaids might live, really.
A friend recommended we check out Limekiln State Park as a potential campsite. Unfortunately for us it was completely booked, but we took a look anyway. The site is directly beneath a bridge, which you’d think would make it horribly noisy, but it wasn’t at all. Honest. The sound of the waves crashing against the rocks is so loud it drowns out everything else.
After everyone but Mark and I got stung by Portuguese man o’wars in Hawaii I have had serious anxiety about unidentified sea creatures. This dude made up for it by being so pretty, but still, we’re not friends.
On our way home we stopped at Rocky Point Restaurant in Carmel. We were hungry, there was a sign, we turned. We honestly weren’t expecting much. We asked if they had a patio that allowed dogs, they said yes, we walked around to the back of the restaurant and BAM! The most amazing view of the ocean EVER. And it was all ours. We had just spent the past two days eating nothing but hot dogs and s’mores so oysters and champagne seemed like the perfect way to end our trip.
There you have it. Our escape into the alternate reality that is Redwood Forestland was just what the doctor ordered. The healing powers of roasted marshmallows and beer in cans have been proven effective by me.
During a trip to LA over Memorial Day weekend we decided to wander over to Silverlake to see what all the hubbub is about. We’d convinced ourselves that if we ever have to move to LA, Silverlake would be the neighborhood that would feel most like home. We came to this conclusion without ever actually visiting, mind you. Mark and I are terribly quick to assume lots of things. Now that we’ve spent some time (ahem, one early afternoon) in this little ‘hood, we can see that it really is as cool as every blogger who lives here says it is.
^^ Cafe Stella, where my $7 avocado toast was fantastic, but $7. Hey, I ordered it so I knew what I was getting into. Its just, what the heck is up with California and their pricey toast? (Have you read the VentureBeat article, $4 Toast: Why the tech industry is ruining San Francisco? Well, I shelled out three extra dollars here. I hope it tasted $3 better than those toasts of the north). Anyway, they serve Intelligentisia coffee, which happens to be right next door, and it is delicious! The cold pressed coffee was a killer cha-ching toast companion. A word of warning though, don’t try to take any pictures while inside the restaurant. They’ll hassle you. Trust me. Guys, sometimes Drew Barrymore gets her brunch on there, so have some respect. ^^
^^ Seeing this van solidified our dreams of living out of a van. Eighty Square Feet folks, where you at? We have tons of questions for you! Like, where are you headed next? Where do you shower? That’s probably it. I’m mostly concerned about the showering thing. ^^
^^ This community garden looked mighty neglected. I think the farm skills we picked up in Hawaii are in serious need, don’t you? ^^
^^ Just a little motivational chalking for your weekend. ^^
All in all, I wouldn’t hate to live here. Palm trees, blue skies, good coffee, artsy/cool people, and the chance to share a $7 toast with Drew Barrymore. I mean, what more could you ask for? Silverlake, you’re just so damn cool.
We had the brilliant idea to fly down to San Diego for Memorial Day weekend and stay in an awesome vintage trailer we found on Airbnb. Sadly, the weather forecast didn’t quite jibe with the weekend-long beach experience we were dreaming of, so we decided to scrap that plan and stick around the LA area, since we were flying into LAX to begin with.
Our last LA experience didn’t leave us with a ton of positive things to say about the sprawling city, so we were really interested in diving deeper this time around and exploring more of what the place had to offer.
We found this dreamy backyard cabana, just a few blocks from the Venice Beach boardwalk and the famous Venice Canals.
If you are ever in the Venice area we recommend the hell out of this place. It was a simple structure on the back deck of Lisa and Joe’s beach-style cottage. Just a pergola, some curtains, a pallet bed, and the most comfortable mattress ever! We slept like babies and awoke to the beautiful morning light.
They also serve a really delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, baked yummy things, and amazing coffee. They were SO good to us, and the Scottish travelers renting out the other bedrooms were great breakfast companions. Sadly I seem to remember a lot of America bashing, but hey, some of these fools deserve a good ribbing, am I right? I mean, our portion sizes at restaurants are out of control, and the tub of popcorn you can buy at “the cinema” is pretty shameful. The most pathetic part was admitting how many vacation days I get each year (ten!) compared to theirs (60!!).
Last time we were in Venice I was a bit bummed that we never made it to the canals. Anyone who has ever been to the real Venice is probably rolling their eyes right now, but relax. This pales in comparison. We know.
We strolled the canals as the sun was setting, peeking into everyone’s houses, which happens to be one of my most favorite activities. Call me a voyeur, but I just like to see how people live their lives.
I mean, as far as neighborhoods go, this is pretty awesome. I’d choose a canal over a yard any day.
We really liked Venice this time around. Abbot Kinney was totally our jam, albeit a teeny bit too hip and out-of-a-magazine looking, but it is LA after all. It was, however, perfect for strolling around, window shopping, people watching, drinking coffee, drinking beers, drinking cocktails, drinking cold-pressed juice, drinking sizzurp…you get the idea.
We take our meals very seriously, so when a friend told us that Gjelina has incredible pizza but that we wouldn’t be able to get a table because of its “hot new place to be” status, we just knew we’d have to give it our best shot. Luckily we like to eat dinner at 5pm like retired folk, so that often makes for easy restaurant-going. We were able to walk in and sit down right away. The pizza was incredible, so just put it on your list. And the grilled peach, burrata, and prosciutto salad was amazing, so put that on your list, too. And the beer? Well, we like our beverages, as you might have guessed. It was drinkable
So if you’re ever in LA and want a cute beach neighborhood — with a quirky, crowd-pleasing boardwalk to boot — where you don’t actually have to drive around just to find a decent time, then Venice is your place, my friends.