“Farming Around the Country: An Organic Odyssey” makes a great gift for the farmer-to-be in your life. The just-published book, written by recent college grad and former high-school teacher Brian J. Bender, chronicles his 11 months of WWOOFing, i.e. doing volunteer farm work with World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
Brian meets quite the cast of characters as he moves from farm to farm, from Maine to Florida, across the southern border of the US, and up the West Coast. When he wasn’t WWOOFing, he CouchSurfed. At the start, in 2008, Brian still called Ohio home, but he ended up settling in Eugene, Ore., where he lives now.
Brian made a monthlong stop in North Carolina to work at Clear Creek Homestead near Celo/Burnsville. He writes fondly of his hosts, homesteaders George and Whitney, who taught him deer butchering, sauerkraut making, beekeeping, and more. There Brian slept in a teepee in the fall, which did not sound enjoyable to me.
Brian selected only farms off the beaten path. Some were driven to serve CSA and market customers while others farmed for themselves. Overall, his hosts ran the gamut from helpful to hellish. Along the way he learned to meditate, and stopped at meditation centers across the country, turning his sustainable agricultural journey into a spiritual one as well.