CONTRIBUTED BY JANVIKA SHAH
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is just one of the many activities to do as an expat living in Korea! Do you ever wonder where your local produce comes from or whether or not it’s organic? Maybe you’re just itching to get your hands in the dirt or experience an overnight home stay with a Korean family in the countryside.
One of my expat friends in Korea is passionate about Permaculture, an ethical design of human systems for a sustainable future. Her interests led her to pursuing WWOOfing in Korea. Established in 1997, WWOOF Korea now offers approximately 60 farms to volunteer on in exchange for food and/or accommodation.
She spent a few weekends working on an organic blueberry farm in Cheongsong County, famous for apples. One sunny Saturday in late October, host Kim Myeong Soon accepted our request to work on her farm in the small town of Bullo. We took an early morning bus from Dong-Daegu station which dropped us off on the side of the road in Bullo. Shortly after, she picked us up in her truck and we arrived on her beautiful and quaint farm. After living in a big city, it was refreshing to see vegetable patches and glistening red apples hanging off the rows of young trees.
Our host, nicknamed host Min, was most excited to see my friend and gave her a huge and welcoming hug. After some warm introductions, we swept and cleaned the church and adjacent storage buildings for about an hour. Then we were invited inside for a tasty breakfast of bibimbap, mixed vegetables and rice, served with homemade gochujang, a spicy red paste.
I assumed that we’d be digging through the soil, but realized a volunteer worker is there to help with the current and seasonal tasks. So we began scooping, measuring and pouring homemade blueberry gochujang from large earthenware pots into little jars that would be sold later. The gochujang had been fermenting for a few months!
After a tasty ramen lunch, we lazily basked in the sun for about an hour and then began bottling a specialty health drink of fermented apricots and dandelions. It was pungent to say the least! Then we were given a tour of the rest of the property and watched her husband packaging fresh apple juice. Before we departed, we were fed a delicious meal of Samgyupsal – pork – and sent off with a present of the largest and juiciest apples I’ve ever tasted.
Host Min was a warm and energetic host who made our trip ever so memorable and pleasant with her contagious laugh and motherly welcome. If you’re interested in participating in WWOOF Korea, I recommend you visit this site, http://wwoofkorea.org/home-english/ to get started!