Monthly Archives: December 2016

WWOOFers on Daufuskie Island

Walk into the house of Daufuskie Community Farm‘s general manager and you’ll see an unlikely sight.  77 year-old Pat Beichler shares her home with a horde of farm volunteers called “WWOOFers”.  WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, an organization that pairs willing volunteers with organic farms all over the United States.  WWOOFers (farm volunteers) usually work 20-30 hours a week in exchange for food and housing provided by the host farm.  It’s a way to travel, learn about sustainability, and meet interesting people without the logistical & financial concerns of housing and food.  You simply work to live.

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Beichler’s home

Pat built her house 18 years ago (at the age of 60) about a half-mile down the road from the farm.  A couple of years ago she decided to move out of her self-built home and into a little shed in the backyard.  She liked the privacy of living away from the bustling house, and decided that WWOOFers could stay in her house instead.

For a downsized experience, WWOOFers have the option to stay in the “gypsy caravan” which is located on the farm.  Dan and Brian (pictured below) called the gypsy caravan home during their month-long stay on the island.

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The Gypsy Caravan

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Brian shows off the orchard’s ground cover, which includes delicious watermelons!

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Dan prepares Sursy the goat for milking

 

Some WWOOFers bring their home with them.  Matt and Anna Clark barged over their cargo-trailer-turned-tiny-home earlier this fall, and expect to stay until March 2017.  They use the animal pasture as their front lawn, and enjoy the company of geese and goats as neighbors.

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The Clarks and their nosey neighbors

WWOOFing is for everybody; both old and young.  18-year old Farley Hammond, Daufuskie WWOOFer, explains why this is a special way to live:

I love WWOOFing because it expands your horizons in a way that no other form of travel can. Staying in a big city, taking guided tours, and enjoying a fancy hotel is one thing; but meeting the people and animals that support the local community, and having your own hand in cultivating both physical and metaphorical growth, is another. I chose to WWOOF because I wanted to choose a more raw, involved, and radically different experience from daily life.

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Farley brushes Oreo, a farm-favorite goat

Of course, everybody loves getting to know the friendly goats on the farm, especially the babies!  This year the kids needed more care than ever.  Two young goats broke their legs and needed daily attention and care.  A pair of sisters lost their mother and had to be bottle-fed throughout their upbringing.  This is usually the WWOOFers’ favorite aspect of the job!

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Overall, the WWOOFers bring some much-needed young energy to the farm and to the island in general.  They mill lumber, construct buildings, design and implement permaculture landscape, muck stalls, feed the animals, pull up weeds, and more.

WWOOFer Gena helps finish up some landscaping in the orchard

WWOOFer Gena helps finish up some landscaping in the orchard

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Patrick begins building a new chicken coop

 

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Milling lumber is one way WWOOFers use their energy to improve the farm

What’s so great about WWOOFing specifically at Daufuskie Community Farm? Courtney, a New York office worker turned WWOOFer, explains her experience:

On Daufuskie, everybody knows everybody and the whole island greets each other with a smile. Doors are left unlocked, bartering and work / trade is a real form of currency, and the residents all have a unique and friendly disposition to both local islanders and visiting tourists. I’ve never before encountered such hospitality from strangers.

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Courtney and Junebug

Courtney, who grew up in the suburbs of New York, was getting tired of her 9-5 office life and turned to WWOOFing as a way out. “I’d always been infatuated with agriculture and farming but never had the opportunity to immerse myself,” she says.  Courtney is not alone; many WWOOFers at the community farm have left their financially-secure career life to explore a new way of living.

“In our culture it is the norm to work forty-plus hours a week at a job you are not necessarily passionate about”, one WWOOFer says. “You then use your paycheck to buy food that has been shipped from all over the country.  This lifestyle doesn’t make sense to me.”  In the WWOOFing world,  you put in physical work to help create the food and goods you need to survive.  Plenty of WWOOFers take side jobs during their stay, and they end up leaving more financially secure than when they came.

More importantly, though, WWOOFers leave with a greater understanding of their role within the world’s ecosystem.  WWOOFing is growing in popularity every year, and some hope this reflects a global mindshift in which we become connected to the food systems that sustain us.

Daufuskie Peach

When Jan Crosby started experimenting with home-made soaps, she had no idea that she would eventually become the number one provider of bath and body products for Daufuskie Island. With an impressive variety of scents and products, “Daufuskie Peach” pleases the taste and style of anyone who comes through her door. Her soaps are made and sold in-house, which invites customers directly to her back porch.

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Oddly enough, the roots of Daufuskie Peach began with a dinner party. A handful of Jan’s friends attended John C. Campbell Folk School, where students can choose to learn about a variety of hand-made crafts (wood-turning, pottery, blacksmithing, spinning, etc). These friends came together for dinner and showed off what they learned during their attendance of the folk school, from French Bistro cooking to doll-making. “I came away from that dinner so inspired,” Jan explains, “I thought, ‘I want to do something crafty and creative too!’”. While checking out the folk school catalog, the category of soap making jumped off the page at her, and she was immediately hooked. Jan started doing research and became more interested with the more she learned. She started playing around with soap bases and essential oils to get a feel for the creative process. Eventually she realized her desire to make the soaps from scratch, which is a much more intensive process than using a soap base. “I experimented for a better part of a year on and off before I actually sold anything,” Jan says.

After about one year, Jan was convinced to showcase her soaps at a fundraising event for the Daufuskie Island Community Farm and Artisan Village. “I sold a fair amount considering I’ve never sold before,” she recalls, “People thought it was great, and I thought ‘I need to start a business!’” Daufuskie Peach was formed, and Jan had success initially by selling her soaps at the local farmers’ market.

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At first, Daufuskie Peach was based around 8-10 soap scents. “I then realized that I really needed products that compliment the soap,” she explains. She thought about what she, as a customer, would hope to find at a bath and body store. Jan knew right away that pump lotion was to be added to her list, and over time richer products such as body butters and scrubs entered the mix. Lotion sticks were later added for convenience sake. “I carry one with me always, in my purse,” Jan says, “It’s just so handy.” Her newest addition is a bath bomb, which hit the market last month.

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In addition to soaps, Daufuskie Peach offers lotion bars, pump lotion, body butter, and scrubs.

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Bath bombs are the newest addition

“I had to start [Daufuskie Peach] part time at first,” Jan explains. She had a full-time job and two children along with her soap-making. “You hit a crossroads sometimes where you have to make the decision – what’s it going to be?” Jan left the financially security of her full-time job in 2015 to commit completely to Daufuskie Peach. Would she change anything if she had the chance? “No regrets,” Jan says with a smile.

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the soaps offer a scent for everyone

Jan has over 30 scents including peppermint, honeysuckle, lavender, and a “camp fuskie” bug-off bar. Common curiosity wonders what Jan’s favorite scent is. Her top three:

  • Black Raspberry “The first time I smelled it out of the bottle… it was one of those ones that I immediately had to make.”
  • Islander “It’s the combo of the coconut lime with a little extra coconut in it… I knew it would sell great.”
  • Lemongrass “I love the exfoliation of the poppy seeds. It’s so fresh and citrusy but earthy at the same time.”

Even though Jan creates a number of additional bath and body products, the original is number one. “Soap is still my favorite.”

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Daufuskie Peach products make a great gift!

Jan draws inspiration from the island for her scents, and she is lucky enough to call Daufuskie her home. What does she love most about living on Daufuskie? 

“Something I realized very early on was that there is such a strong sense of community here… It’s such a great place to raise kids. You can really control the pace at which life hits these kids here. Because it’s such a slower pace, they grow up to be more conscientious and observant about the community, the environment and the people they are around.”

 

Check out Jan’s online store at www.daufuskiepeach.com!