Thursday, July 28, 2016

What to pack for wwoof/workaway in the Italian alps

phone photos, here's my insta

I just came back from a two-week stay at Azienda Agricola Arpisson. I kept a good record of what I packed, and for the first of what are sure to be many posts about this beautiful place, here is the list, because many people have emailed me over the years asking what they ought to bring on a wwoofing trip.

Some background: in 2012-13, with a grant from my university, I spent a year working on farms in Italy and Norway (and interviewing farmers about their experiences with climate change). Arpisson was my favorite--the work is strenuous, constant, and extremely rewarding; the 60 goats and 30 cows live a deeply humane and peaceful existence and as a result they are friendly and patient and fun to take care of; and the setting, near the national park Gran Paradiso and Cogne, in Valle d'Aosta, is mindboggling. Wildflowers, skies full of stars, hailstorms followed by fast-moving mists, mountain springs, cold mornings and warm afternoons, and an off-the-grid barn and living quarters. It's a dream. So now that finally, at the age of 26, I have a full-time job and something resembling discretionary funds, I grabbed my gf (who was fresh off of a heartfelt reading of Mary Oliver's "The Summer Day") and we bought plane tickets to Milan. Even though I just got back yesterday, it is so disconnected from my life in Brooklyn that it barely feels real.

If you want to work there too, here is the link on Workaway!

Onto the packing list. If you are planning on going to the Alps in July, I think the main thing to keep in mind is that it will be colder than you expect--down to the forties sometimes. Other wwoofers told us it snowed in early July, right before we arrived.

I packed only a carry-on rolling bag and a basic Jansport Superbreak backpack, but I didn't end up using everything: handwashing clothes was easier than expected.


Farm Clothes
  • one pair of jeans
  • two pairs of shorts with pockets
  • pullover wool sweater
  • cardigan wool sweater (that can layer over the other)
  • two uniqlo "heattech" long sleeve shirts (or other long underwear tops)
  • two long underwear leggings
  • raincoat
  • two short sleeve cotton shirts
  • one sleeveless cotton shirt
  • comfy boots with ankle support (I just brought my J. Crew boys' desert boots--the K7 is a woman's size 9!!--and they were perfect)
  • close-toed sandals that can go in the shower (Crocs Kadee!)
  • five pairs of underwear and five pairs of socks and two bras
  • one bandana
  • straw sun hat
  • sunglasses
City and Miscellaneous
  • dress which can get dirty (I should have brought two! This is the only thing I didn't pack enough of!)
  • three paperback books
  • watercolors and watercolor pad, pencils and sketchpad
  • journal
  • two cameras and a phone and chargers of course
  • eight chocolate bars (you will want these on the farm if you like sweets) and other snacks like nuts/salami (sometimes, on a hike, we sorely needed these)
  • two baggus which came in handy everywhere
  • toothbrush, shampoo, face soap, deodorant, etc, but also:
  • chapstick!!! you really need to protect your lips
  • more sunscreen than might seem reasonable

Note: everything is likely to be covered in mud and hay and cow spit which washes out eventually but it's kind of nice to have clothes you don't care about.

  • overalls (they were too heavy to carry to the alpeggio and seemed like they would dry too slowly)
  • two out of my four pairs of shorts
  • three out of six cotton t-shirts
  • three out of eight pairs of underwear and three out of eight pairs of socks
  • dress which I didn't want to get dirty (bad idea, everything got dirty)
  • extra digital camera memory (even though I took thousands of photos and videos this didn't actually become necessary)
  • my extra bandana (bandanas dry so fast you really only need one)

  • an extra pretty dress that I was okay with getting dirty
  • a sleep sack (we slept on bare down comforters that we couldn't wash)
  • mayyybe a backpacking backpack instead of a rolling bag, but I like the rolling bag for the airplane and train and bus section...on the fence on this

For more on related matters, check out my "Top Tips for Wwoofing" post and my thoughts on cheap travel in general.

Here are all my posts about volunteering on organic farms--more to come shortly!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

a visit to durham a little while ago

beautiful beautiful durham north carolina in the springtime. now that i'm a grown up i can finally see it.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Springtime at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Part 4

the lilac section was my favorite, everyone smelling everything...

plus an eve bonus