International flavour brought to farm life

Making a fine batch of pikelets is one more skill three young Taiwanese folk can add to their resume after their stay in Gordonton.

Jimmy, Ira and Mia (pictured with Judy) are learning the farming ways of New Zealand through being Willing Workers on Organic Farms (Wwoofers.) In exchange for about four hours’ work a day, volunteers get accommodation and food from farming hosts.

The trio from Taiwan – who did not know each other prior to this – have been staying with Judy Chrystall and upskilling on a range of kiwi agricultural practices, including sheep chasing and egg collecting.

Jimmy, who is studying international business, says every ‘beautiful day’ in Gordonton starts by chasing Molly the mother sheep.

“She was not feeding her baby,” he says. (The good news is that Molly has since improved and is now a model mother.)

There is weeding to be done and a shed to be cleaned out, says Judy, who has been taking Wwoofers on her property for around seven years.
“It’s good to have an extra pair of hands about – in this case, lots of pairs of hands, and very good to have the company too. With Wwoofing, the world comes to your door, I don’t have to go out to it.”

All sorts have come to help out: Germans, Asians, Kiwis and Americans, who tend to come in waves. A young Japanese lass is keen to stay in September, Judy says.

When pressed, she agrees that the present bunch from Taiwan are among the best.

For the present batch of Wwoofers, it is a good chance to improve their English, and learn about green farming – Ira quit her jobs in a department store and with the symphony orchestra (managing, not playing) in order to find out more about organics.

There is a huge contrast between the two countries, they say. Taiwan has a population of over 23 million, all living in an area not much bigger than the Waikato Region.*

What do they like most about New Zealand?
“The country,” says Ira. “In Taiwan we have lots of mountains, but the view is all blocked by buildings. But here, the view is just, wow -180 degrees.”

Jimmy and Mia, agree it is good to be out in the fresh air and learning new things.

Mia is not officially wwoofing at present; she has found a temporary job in Hamilton, packing ice cream cones. But she had been wwoofing with Judy previously and returned to share in the pikelets (which are topped with a splendid jam fresh from Tamahere Market.)

“This was my first time to learn about organic growing, Judy is a good teacher. It is better for our health, and better for our Earth.”

This week Jimmy and Ira head off to other Wwoofing homes around New Zealand, before returning to Taiwan. And Mia will get stuck into her new job.

I point out she will need to research the best kind of ice cream for the cones and hokey pokey comes up for discussion.

“It is nice,” says Mia, “I like it.”
“Sweet,” says Jimmy.
Ira pauses – “It is sweet and nice.”
It is time to feed the hens and collect the eggs. The visitors have brought a ray of sunshine to a chill day.

*The land area of Taiwan is 36,000 sq km, and the Waikato Region is 25,000 sq km.


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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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