Name, Age: Stephanie Usry, 23
University, Major: UC San Diego, Sociology
Length of stay: 3-6 months
Type of Work: Environment/Conservation
Tell us about the nonprofit/social business you work for:
During the summer after my senior year of undergrad, I decided to take some time to travel, catch up with my international friends, and live on a farm in Italy to help with the Vendemmia (grape picking and wine-making) through the Italian branch of WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).
How did you find your position?
I found my farm through WWOOF, the nonprofit World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. I chose to join the Italian branch of the organization, paying 30 Euros for a membership and access to the list of farmers looking for WWOOFers. From the list, I searched for places looking for help with ‘wine making’ and then sent out a ‘cover letter’ of information about myself to a bunch of farms, letting them know when I was available to work and asking if I could come help them.
What’s your typical day like?
I’d wake up in the morning and have a breakfast of fruit from the trees outside and yogurt from the local Coopertiv. After that I’d join with the head of household and he’d determine what our work would be for the day. We’d work, picking grapes, apples, basil and more, from 9-noonish and break for lunch, cooked by the matron of the house. Some afternoons we’d work until dinner, otherwise I’d hang out with the family or go on an adventure (they let me borrow the Kangoo, their extra truck if I wanted to go far).
What are your living accommodations?
In many cases for WWOOFing you live in a room provided be the hosts. It truly varies by farm. At one farm I stayed in their extra apartment which was simple yet perfect.
What do you do in your free time?
Hang out with the host family, go on walks, read, learn to speak Italian.
What inspired you to do this kind of work? If you are taking a gap year, what motivated you to do that?
I wanted to go visit my friends in Europe, and I needed some time away from the hustle and technology to de-stress after the 4 busy and intense years of college. Living on a farm in Italy and learning about wine making was the perfect solution!
How are you financing your time?
WWOOFers are not paid. They are given a place to live and at least 2 meals per day. Many farms are happy to provide all 3 meals and to really make you feel at home. To get to Europe, I saved money throughout college for the trip.
What kind of special skills do you need to do your job?
I now work at a start-up in San Francisco. I’m getting involved in the local community again as I get settled back into California life and I hope to find some local California vineyards who want help during their Vendemmia’s so that I can go and be part of the experience again.
Are you blogging about your work or travel? How can we stay in touch?
I did! I blogged about the entire experience. stephandsungod.blogspot.com You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you be willing to take questions from potential Gappers?