A Week of WWOOF Chronicles

Monday 0700: The first task of the day was to discard all of the residual lettuces harvested at the end of the week prior, as the farm prides itself on delivering fresh produce and three days (or more, potentially) just wouldn’t cut it. Unfortunately, this means quite a bit of waste and then the need to head out to pick anything required for the day’s shop orders.

Monday seems to be another (along with Fridays) slower day at Shillingford, and so there was a smaller crew there to carry out the duties of the day. With only two shop orders for the AM delivery, that included a small amount of picking for each item, two groups headed out to pick from the different locations. R harvested leeks and then black kale, while K traveled up to the top field to collect curly kale, spinach and hungry gap kale.

After the orders had been fulfilled and ready for van load and subsequent delivery, the drizzle sent us to a wet weather job for slow times, weeding in the second polytunnel all along both sides around all sorts of lettuces. We removed chickweed and assorted other culprits. The rains started to be heavier just after tea break, invoking the watering system in the polytunnel that uses the rainwater collected in the catchment to nourish the greens inside.

At Shillingford Organics, weeds from the tunnels are deposited into the pathways and left there to decompose and become a compost material, rather than “taking them out to somewhere to become compost only to have to bring back in”. This is a system we haven’t seen anywhere else and aren’t sure if the results have the same value as more formally prepared compost material. Our weeding took us through to the end of the work day and the rain drove us back to our pod for respite.

Tuesday 0700: First order of business, orders for the business. As often, we first set about shop order fulfillment with a full board of things to be collected, weighed, bagged, and packaged for delivery throughout the day. Some harvesting was needed to meet the requests, K made his way to the field for leeks and also cut and bagged squash for the market, while R headed out on a tractor trip and cut PSB, cauliflower and then popped off brussel sprouts to fill a green crate.

After tea break, the week’s potato grading needed to be done. Now old hats after the week prior, we made quick work of the task and then were sent to a few patches of “no dig” beds that needed black tarp resetting from the intense gales of the recent days that had wrecked havoc on the covering and left the ground exposed. The tarp had been in place since the end of summer and is left to ensure all of the weeds that had grown there have died off in time for the next planting season for the bed. At the conclusion of this repair job, our day was done.

Wednesday 0700: After quickly exhausting limited stocks of produce when packing the shop and market orders for the day, we made our way to the fields to replenish and complete the shop orders for the morning. After tea break, we needed to head back out to the fields in order to harvest for the large Exeter Market order and items for the veg boxes, as well. R picked a crate full of brussel sprouts while K picked two of hungry gap kale. Then R picked a large crate of red Russian kale, while K picked PSB and spinach.

When we arrived back, the employees went back out yet again to collect oodles of red cabbage for the veg boxes while we prepared the red Russian kale, PSB and spinach bags for the veg boxes. This chore took us through to the end of our work day, with virtually everything prepared for the first run of veg box packing to be completed that afternoon.

Thursday 0700: It was a drizzling morning as we went to the packing shed, but in the prep time, the drizzle had ceased and we headed out to pick for the morning, R picked red Russian kale while K went to another field behind the chickens and picked curly kale. After making up bags of PSB and kale for the veg boxes, we completed both the first and second packing runs for Thursday.

Once we’d had our daily tea break, we went back out picking, this time us both collecting hungry gap and then spinach. The sun was out when we departed and followed an hour later with a strike of rain/sleet before blowing out again for the sun to reappear. A second onslaught of rain caught us before we completed our pick two hours after we left. When we arrived back and unloaded, our WWOOF day was done.

Friday 0700: Once again, shop order work needed to be managed first off, this day having only to pick 1 kg of black kale and 1.5 kg of red Russian kale in order to make up the small orders for the day. Then it was time for the third run of veg boxes, the final of the week.

Our chore before tea break was to pressure wash all of the dirty crates, a wet and tedious job. After break, we were sent out to a long planting bed in one of the “no dig” areas to fold and roll up a fleece that was protecting new broad bean plants from pheasants and birds when they were seeds and very young plants. Now large enough to not be of interest to the winged creatures, they needed to be uncovered to avoid mass weed explosion under the fleece. After moving almost 50 extra white crates to storage above the cold store and helping make room for the new delivery of a pallet of onions, we were done with our WWOOF week.

Friday 1301: Done for the week. Phew!  We returned to our pod, looking forward to our weekend and a special visit/day out…

Loving Simplicity