Saturday, February 27, 2010








The French Boys and the two of us helped Stan at his farm all day. Stan is a neighbor farmer who grows and sells produce and eggs for Laurie and Will's CSA. We left this morning to drive 20 minutes to his farm at 6:30am. Breakfast consisted of coffee, eggs, biscuits, and pork sausage if one were inclined, and as soon as we were done eating, we headed straight for his fields. He is a 6th generation Alabamian farmer, but unlike his father, farms organically. We mulched 9 onion beds that Stan already planted earlier this week in the early morning using 50 year old sawdust. The ground was frozen and the wind was fierce. But the sun was out and we didn't have 24 inches of snow carpeting the soil. The mulch is supposed to keep moisture in the soil and prevent weed growth. The sawdust also absorbs heat from sunlight which enables the roots to grow strong.

After working hard, we took a mid-morning break. Stan offered us each a Dr. Pepper and a Payday candy bar. We inspected the packages and he stated: "Don't read it eat it." Jen refrained while Aaron indulged in the candy. More onion mulching, then we lunched on beans with carrots and celery, and plenty of corn bread. One of the two versions of cornbread was spicy with hot peppers that we mostly shied away from. Stan, a true southerner, had country music on his radio the entire time we were there. He lives in a shoddy small home by himself.

We harvested some baby onions in the afternoon, and asked Stan about his farming philosophies. He plants by the Moon, insisting anything else is a waste of time. Today was an Aries day which is a bad planting day, but a good day to weed, which we did plenty of. He hopes to plant more crops in a few days when there is a full moon. Life moves in cyclical motions, and following moon cycles may have a great impact on many elements of farming. Whether one chooses to believe is of great importance when deciding to become an organic farmer. We worked really hard today but the work was rewarding and it was a really good day overall.

Silvon and Eve made us crepes for dessert tonight...really delicious.

Thursday, February 25, 2010











For breakfast we ate fruit, yogurt, and coffee. We sampled a local yogurt that was flavored with a mixture of mango, pineapple, and habaƱero pepper. It was a bizarre mixture of sweet and heat.

The morning was spent packing Thursday's CSA orders, and in the afternoon we moved all our belongings from the cottage into the farm house because the other WWOOFer left. Our new room is bigger and has a private bathroom...the upgrade is excellent. We made butternut squash soup for lunch served with pesto cheddar quesadillas.

After lunch and settling in, near dusk, Laurie had us begin installing a pig fence for two young pigs who are due to get delivered tomorrow to Moore Farms. Installing the fence was challenging physical labor. We had to drive the posts into the ground with a special fence driving tool that took all one's might. We worked for a while and made only a bit of progress. Tomorrow hopefully we will complete the fence, and rebuild the chicken coop as well. We have to move the chicken coop into the new pig area thus we will need to construct a new home for the chickens. Jen's expertise should come in handy.

Laurie took Aaron to harvest garlic by moonlight tonight, and we used it with other local organic ingredients to make a feast for 12 people. Will's old friends from Detroit are in a traveling band and they all are spending the night here. We made pastas and salads and sat banquet style at a long table. After eating, drinks were shared and enjoyed by all as we gathered round the fire playing songs.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010







Despite not working in the fields today, it was quite a busy and "produc"tful day (sort of a bad pun). Tuesdays and Wednesdays are very busy here at Moore Farms because Wednesdays and Thursdays are CSA drop-off days in Atlanta. The members of this Community Supported Agriculture can pick and choose specialty items or opt for the farmers pick each week. Moore Farms is different than other CSAs because they collaborate with other farmers in their region, sometimes out of state, to distribute the best organic produce they can to mostly Atlanta-based residents. By teaming up with surrounding farms, CSA members are able to have a wider range of produce and sometimes get foods not typically available in a standard CSA. For instance, this week CSA members will receive oranges and tangerines from Florida and those who added specialty items will even get basil grown in nearby greenhouses. Typically, a winter CSA, even in Alabama, would consist of squash, root vegetables, and greens. Foods vary greatly depending on seasonality.

After produce is dropped off (or picked up) early in the morning by neighboring farmers, a typical packing day has two elements: first, the produce must be counted, weighed, and bagged individually. The second part of the day is dedicated to packing and boxing all orders. This morning we weighed out and bagged basil, cabbage, lettuce, kale, tomatoes, collard greens, mushrooms, apples, pears, tangerines, oranges, rosemary, broccoli, and potatoes. This doesn't even include sweet potatoes and squash, which require no bags, nor the meat and cheese which gets packed separately into coolers. This week's orders totaled 218. Moore Farms offers two standard "farmers pick" boxes, one for $20 and one for $30. This week, the $20 box included: two butternut squashes, a container of cherry tomatoes, a head of cabbage, three oranges, two tangerines, two bags of lettuce, and one green bell pepper. The $30 box included all of the above, plus, three sweet potatoes, two vine-ripened tomatoes and an extra head of lettuce. Though this may not sound like a steal, everything is organic and as fresh as can be. Summer's bounty provides much more bang for your buck, so it all evens out throughout the year. On top of all this, many members choose to customize their boxes al la carte style at an additional cost. These items may include: eggs (both chicken and duck), a wide variety of local cheeses and meats, honey, herbs, tomato sauce, chili peppers, fair trade, locally roasted coffee, locally crafted jams and chutneys, and marinades. Packing all this delicious produce made us hungry all day!

Being a WWOOFer and a WWOOF host presents opportunities and obstacles alike. In our brief experience as WWOOFers, we have noticed we get along with some hosts better than with others--and this is merely based on personality. After two short days at Moore Farms, we already feel very at home and comfortable with Laurie and Will, similarly to how we've felt with our previous hosts. However, we are not the only WWOOFers currently here. One of the other WWOOFers is a bit aloof and there is a severe personality clash between him and everyone else here. As WWOOF hosts, Laurie and Will very graciously open their homes to complete strangers and merely ask that volunteers do their share of work and respect their environment to earn their keep. At Coweeta Heritage Center, there was a WWOOFer journal and we realized that some WWOOFers didn't stay as long as expected for one reason or another. We imagine this happens all over, because either the WWOOFer takes advantage of the host or vice versa. It appears at Moore Farms that one of the WWOOFers has been taking advantage of the hosts and as a result Laurie and Will have asked him to leave. If we were somewhere we felt uncomfortable, we wouldn't hesitate to leave. If a host feels uncomfortable in their own home at the expense of a WWOOFer, logic stands that they should be able to remove said WWOOFer. We hope to continue to have harmonious relationships with all our future WWOOF hosts as we have thus far.

Also today, two new French WWOOFers arrived at Moore Farms and they seem super cool. They are both males, which follows suit with our previous experiences; there are more men WWOOFing than women.

We were in charge of cooking lunch and dinner for everyone, including a few part-time employees. For lunch we cooked spaghetti with fresh tomatoes, broccoli, onions, garlic, and delicious local cheese alongside a fresh salad of watercress and arugula. For dinner we made more salad, added red peppers, grapefruit, carrots, broccoli, and scallions and paired this with fresh toasted bread and a delicious stinky goat cheese that the French boys absolutely loved. And so did we. Jen also baked an apple, pear, cranberry crisp for dessert that Aaron helped with. Everyone was well-fed and happy.

Monday, February 22, 2010







There was a deluge of rain last night. Thunder and lightning made the dogs howl for hours. We woke up to a field of enchanted mist outside our cottage, but missed the photo op. We got straight to repairing the farm house this morning before eating breakfast. Jen worked with Laurie sorting through the kitchen: cleaning, scrubbing, and organizing. Will's mother Virginia had 18 sets of dishes all with service for 20 and countless pots, pans, and miscellaneous kitchen crap. They threw plenty away, but there are still boxes and boxes and boxes remaining, which must get double checked by Virginia to make sure keepsakes are saved. Who knows, maybe the 30th salt shaker was a gift from her great Aunt Patrice for Christmas when she was four? Or maybe that hideous candelabra was an antique that's worth something? Probably not though. Laurie is happy to get rid of most of it. Meanwhile Aaron worked with Michael, under Will's direction, and primed the second bedroom.

After oatmeal, fruit, coffee, and yogurt for breakfast, Aaron worked with Will on moving and repairing the cabinets in the kitchen, and then with Michael helping Travis, the Moore Farms warehouse manager, prepare boxes for tomorrow's CSA shipments. Meanwhile, Jen went with Laurie on an excursion all over town. First they went to Sears which is significantly smaller than any back home, to get a new stove for the farm house. Negotiations proved fruitless, and unable to get a good deal, they left and went to the post office, and then to Fred's. Fred's is sort of like a Wal-Mart or Amazing Savings, but presumably they treat their employees much better than Wal-Mart. They got lots of goodies for the new WWOOFer kitchen, along with other stuff for the house. Then back to Sears to get the stove after all, along with the hood and a new lawnmower, which was all delivered this afternoon. Because Laurie and Will live in such a rural setting, gas companies do not provide service to their area; instead they use local propane gas. The next stop Jen and Laurie made was to the propane store, where they set up an appointment for someone to come tomorrow to properly install the gas in the new stove. Then off to Aubrey's, a unique local store that sells seeds and all kinds of other farm necessities. The Piggly Wiggly was the next stop to get a few groceries to tide us all over until a bigger food shop can be done in Atlanta to get more organic and fresh edibles. The supermarket was a fairly scary experience. This place made other supermarkets look quite desirable in comparison. Alabama state laws still allow smoking in public places, so the stench of cigarettes overwhelmed the store. After a few more errands, they finally were back.

We ate rice and beans for lunch, and then it was right back to it. Aaron and Michael painted the room an off-white and then Aaron helped Will build a bed frame for the bedroom. Jen and Laurie tackled the kitchen again and spruced up the bathroom. All these chores needed doing, and they were exciting for Will and Laurie, who have wanted to renovate the farm house for years, but have been unable to because their mom's lived there. While we learned valuable house repair skills, we both looked at each other at one point and said "I want to learn more about farming."






On this property there are 5 buildings: the main barn which has been converted to Laurie & Will's home, the main home which is under construction but will have two bedrooms, a finished kitchen and two and a half bathrooms, our cozy cottage which is a one room bedroom with electricity but no bathroom, the produce shed where all CSA orders are packed, and the chicken shed which is now the tool shed. Despite being quite cold when we went to sleep, we woke up warm and cozy thanks to plenty of blankets and a space heater. The cottage is now warm, due to our body heat and the space heater. Presumably nobody has lived in this cottage for at least a few weeks so it got quite cold. We'll be using the bathroom in the main house which is less than 15 paces away.

After a stroll around part of the property and a fresh fruit breakfast, Laurie and Will came home. They were in Athens, Georgia attending the Georgia Organics Conference. They promptly put us to work upon their return. Spiny amaranth grows wild here and is one of their nastiest weeds. Apparently the pricklers can cause serious damage if they catch you. Laurie informed us amaranth is used in many other cultures both as a grain and as a way to eliminate the gassiness in beans. There are many forms of amaranth but spiny amaranth is quite a hinderance to gardeners. Over Thanksgiving WWOOFers here raked spiny amaranth into many piles. Today we tried to burn some of these piles to prevent the seeds from spreading and staying in the soil. The only ways to eradicate this weed is complete incineration or spraying chemicals. Since Moore Farms is organic, no chemicals will be sprayed so we tried the former technique. After a wet winter, it was quite hard to make the huge piles catch and get hot enough to destroy the seeds. We'll try again later in the week if it's sunny and drier.

Will is a sixth generation Alabamian, despite growing up in Michigan. His great-grandfather built the main house many years ago, but they are unsure of an exact date. His parents retired here and his mom recently moved into a nearby apartment. This vacancy is allowing them the opportunity to refurbish the house. Fixing it up is going to be one of our jobs here. One of the bedrooms is already complete and Mike, the other WWOOFer here, is staying there. Apparently two French WWOOFers are coming in the next day or two so we are finishing the second bedroom for them tomorrow.

Saturday, February 20, 2010






Don't be fooled by Florida. Sure it's pretty far south, but northern Florida in February is still cold. Last night we built a campfire to keep us warm, but the moment we climbed into our tent, we were chilled to the bone.

Before we embarked on our trip, we made a list of necessities. Two items on our list were: (1) sleeping pads (2) pillows. We were generously given a free inflatable mattress before the trip started, so we decided we didn't need the sleeping pad. We tested the mattress in Washington DC and after a few minutes, it slowly but steadily deflated. After sleeping on it all night, we woke up with rug burns on our chins.** Since we never got any pads or a replacement mattress, we used our spare blankets as bedding support. In retrospect, we should have used them as blankets. The other item we also never purchased were the pillows. Sharing one airplane sized pillow between the two of us on a 35 degree night translated into poor sleeping.

We left Florida feeling like zombies, but hot coffee en route helped us regain our focus and putting the heat in River Jumper on full blast helped us regain feeling in our toes. After lots of driving, we made it to Alabama. There are only two notes worth mentioning during the drive. The first was witnessing an Alaska state license plate. We are determined to video record a license plate from as many states as we can during this trip. When Aaron spotted the Alaskan plate, he didn't hesitate to drive 85 mph and swerve across three lanes of traffic, exit the highway, drive through a hotel parking lot, and blatantly follow the driver down several side streets to get the shot. It worked out though - we got the shot, got no tickets, avoided accidents, and even sort of made a friend.

The other noteworthy occurrence was eating lunch at Sunny's Home Cook'n. According to "State By State: A Panoramic Portrait of America" Alabama ranks #2 on the list of US States for having the most obese citizens. They came in at 61%. (West Virginia is #1 at 61.2%) Judging by the clientele at the restaurant, we'd say 61% is lowballing it. Granted, our presence lowered the average obesity rate down to around 80%, but if you take away us, and the mexican bus boys working the all you could eat buffet table, the rate was more like 90%. Yikes.

We safely and happily arrived at Moore Farms just before sunset. Lori and Will Moore run a CSA and supply Atlanta based restaurants with produce. We will help them for the remainder of February on their farm.

**Aunt Carolyn, not literally about the rug burn but truthfully about the mattress.

Friday, February 19, 2010








We've been enjoying a few days of relaxation and sunshine in Miami Beach. Kari and Eric graciously opened their home to us while they vacationed in LA & Vegas for a few days. Tuesday there wasn't a cloud in the sky and we took advantage by sunbathing in their backyard by the pool. There were just enough surrounding trees to block the wind and make the air warm. We quenched our thirst by opening and drinking a plethora of coconut water. There were two big palm trees in their backyard that had dropped many coconuts at our feet, tempting us to splurge. For some reason Kari and Eric don't keep a machete around so we weren't able to split the fresh, young coconuts open to enjoy their meat, but the water was incredible. We managed to get a little foraging in.

Tuesday evening we treated ourselves to a nice dinner. One restaurant in particular, Escopazzo, was recommended to us by the farmer we are about to work for in Alabama. The restaurant uses only organic and local ingredients in their classic Italian dishes. The menu also features several raw and vegan dishes. We enjoyed the soup du jour, zucchini soup. It is quite unusual for us to be able to eat soup out, as most soups are made with chicken or beef stock. This soup contained neither meat stock nor any dairy. It amazed us how they managed to create such a creamy consistency without the use of any dairy. We tried one of the raw dishes, which was a medley of vegetables inside eggplant wraps. Eggplant has a tendency to be mushy and become a texture we don't enjoy, but since this was raw, the consistency was pleasing. Our third course was saffron risotto, cooked perfectly al dente. We enjoyed a lovely bottle of Sangiovese, which complimented our meal. At this point, we should mention that we discussed our trip with our waiter, who told us the chef would be delighted to speak to us about organic foods and farming. We dined late and were nearly the last table in the restaurant by the time dessert was served. Dessert, by the way, was on the house. They served us outstanding tiramsu, and an orange creme brulee, which had good flavor but is not our favorite dessert. Giancarla Bodoni, the owner and chef, chatted with us as we ate dessert. It was reassuring to hear a well-known and respected chef speak passionately about the importance of organic, local ingredients. She was thrilled to hear about our trip and we were thrilled to pick her brain. If you're ever in Miami, we highly recommend you dine here.

We left Miami this morning after spending the day with Kari yesterday. We drove as far as we could, taking back roads, and are camping tonight at Suwannee Valley Campground in White Springs. We took the scenic route passing Lake Okeechobee but somehow missed the lake despite driving literally next to it. We planned to enjoy a picnic lunch on the lakefront, but were on another road, beyond the lake, before we knew what happened. We ate at a picnic table in a school playground/parking lot instead. If we go the Grand Canyon, we'll be sure not to miss it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2-15-10 **VIDEO INCLUDED**






We spent the past three days visiting family in southern Florida. Thursday night we slept at Aunt Bobbie's house in Boynton Beach and Jen accidentally tackled her when hugging her hello. We slept the next three nights at the Sheraton Hotel in Plantation while spending time with Aaron's parents and his grandmother Sally. Saturday we took a day trip to the Fort Lauderdale beach and snuck onto the Ritz Carlton's rooftop deck and scored free caramel/chocolate coated popcorn. Sunday we went to Aaron's third cousin's engagement party in Cooper City. Today we caught a few rays by the hotel pool before packing up and bidding everyone goodbye. One thing particularly unusual about the hotel was the bathroom toilets in both our respective rooms. They gurgled and bubbled all night, and one even overflowed with soapy suds. It looked like a laundry machine overflowing with too much detergent. This afternoon we visited Aunt Barbara in Pompano Beach and brought her flowers because she's recovering from a hospital visit, and ate dinner with Aunt Ruth who conveniently lives just down the road. All in all, it was good family time.

We are currently in Miami Beach and will stay here for a few nights, visiting Kari and Eric Weitz. They should show us a side of Florida we haven't yet seen.

Friday, February 12, 2010







What a day! We woke up before 6am to finish packing all our belongings and headed to the beach with Andy to watch the sunrise. He drove the truck and all was fine until we reached the dunes: we got stuck. The tires were spinning without moving, only sinking deeper into the sand. As the sun was quickly rising, we abandoned the truck in order to be on the beach, not wanting to miss the incredible morning sky. After the sun rose, we quickly trekked back to the truck to get it out of the sand. We thought we might have to call for emergency assistance, but luckily after putting sticks and small rocks under the tires, the combination of us two pushing and rocking the vehicle with Andy milking the gas eventually freed the truck. We were able to leave the beach and get to the Inn in time to grab a cup of coffee to go and board the boat. Leaving Greyfield was bittersweet; our time there had been outstanding and leaving was sad, but we're excited for all that lies ahead.

Once we crossed the state border into Florida, we immediately purchased a quarter bushel of Honeybell oranges from a roadside stand. We've already consumed 7, and we've had them less than 12 hours. They are so incredibly juicy and succulent, sometimes it seems no other orange is worth eating. We had to eat them out of the car, because otherwise we would have a sticky, juicy, messy car. We have a feeling fruit will get better and better each place we go. We can't wait!

Hunger struck while we were driving through Daytona Beach so we tried to find a palatable meal for lunch. We didn't realize the Daytona 500 is on this Sunday so there was a lot more traffic than we expected. Apparently there are many races at this track so thousands of people were parking and ready for the festivities to begin. We left the racetrack area and drove around for a while, not finding any place that looked remotely decent. Finally we picked a pizza place that we walked into and quickly out of. The food looked inedible. The food standards of the average American are so insanely low, that finding a place to eat off a major highway is more challenging than hailing a cab in midtown Manhattan at rush hour. Chili's, Applebees, Pizza Hut, and McDonald's litter every single road we pass, however none of these places serve anything we deem appropriate to put into our bodies. Eating twenty oranges a piece for lunch didn't seem like a balanced meal so we ventured to a second pizza place with our fingers crossed. In contrast it was a significant improvement so we sat down to scan the menu. A man passed our table and asked if we were the couple with the "just married" sign on our car. We replied "yes", to which he first congratulated us and then told us lunch was on him. We looked at each other thinking this was a joke. He promptly took out his wallet, pulled out a $20 and put it on our table. He then walked away and, looking over his shoulder as he exited the door, shouted "I hope you'll have as happy a marriage as I do." The entire incident from start to finish was no more than twenty seconds. We both stared at each other, jaws dropped, wondering what had just happened. Was that real? Could it have been possible? But there was a real Hamilton on our table. In order to pay it forward, we gave our waitress an $8 tip on a $17 meal. This trip really is reminding us that there are good people out there. It is so refreshing to meet strangers who warmly open theirs homes, hearts, and sometimes wallets to us.

We're staying in southern Florida for a week, taking a break from the farms to visit family. Tonight we bought dinner ingredients at Publix, and like all American supermarkets, it was a sterile, odorless environment. Supermarkets stand in stark contrast to farms. Sure, animal manure stinks, literally, but for every unpleasant aroma we encounter on the farms we also encounter something incredibly sweet smelling. For every sacrifice on the farm, we are richly rewarded. In a supermarket, the shopper makes no sacrifice, and the result is no reward. Seeing people fill their shopping carts with "food like products" made us cringe and sprint for the exit. Still, we don't always have access to farmer's markets and the freshest, local produce, so we make due with supermarket produce. In spite of the shortcomings of typical supermarkets, they are still far superior to fast food dives.







Today we tried to build the frame for a water tank which will be used in a water catchment system but the cold barn made our work short lived. There were plenty of tools and supplies around but the job would take multiple days to complete and since Lee had started the brace and would probably finish it, we headed inside for warmth. Breakfast was lemon cottage cheese pancakes served with honey and butter. They were very light and airy and delicious. The food situation has been pretty awesome here, although maybe a little too many eggs and cheese.

Dan, a housemate, kindly gave us a tour of upper floors of Greyfield today. We've obviously seen part of it, but until today we had not seen a room where guests lodge. The rooms all vary in size, shape, and character. Along with the 16 rooms in the house, there are three small cottages across the field where additional guests can stay.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the house, sitting by a fire in the backyard, playing disc golf, and interviewing Andy. On the way back to Greyfield to gather dinner ingredients, we discovered the first foal of 2010 in the airfield, being protected by it's mother. It was such a phenomenal sight to witness a brand new baby horse, supported and totally sheltered by its loving parent.

We cooked up coconut rice with cashews and craisins, as well as a baby butternut squash and sweet potatoes from Andy's garden for dinner. The veggies were cooked in a coconut curry sauce and it was all quite tasty. Despite the cold temperatures, we ate dinner outside, warming our toes, literally, by the huge fire Aaron built. The skies cleared a bit and we could see lots of stars. Cumberland Island has treated us well.