WWOOFing on Farm #2: Maison La Source
Maison La Source was in the Rhone-Alpes area, close to Lyon; set in the mountains. It is not really a farm, but actually an ecological bed-and-breakfast. The vegetable and fruit gardens are thus maintained to feed its habitants organically and healthfully. It is run by Christine and Nicolas Molle.
The house was recently overhauled to ecologically incorporate elements such as rain water collection, wind mill, walls made of natural materials, etc etc. Each of the rooms in the bed and breakfast is decorated to different themes like “Africa” and “Asia,” using lovely textiles and a keen eye for colour.
The air in this part of France at this time of year was fragrant, filled with the scent of a certain white blossom (as well as other blooming flowers):
The atmosphere at Maison la Source was completely different from Moulin de Braux. It being a quiet time of year, there were no guests and only Christine and a garden helper worked during the day, whereas Nicolas worked every day in Lyon to come home in the evenings. So when I did my work, which consisted of mostly weeding (cleaning up the different flower beds and vegetable plants), I worked by myself. I have to admit that was a big challenge for me. Time passed much more slowly without someone else to work with, and of course I was missing people at the other farm. But I did also some cleaning in the house for potential guests (who ended up not coming), and experimenting with recipes in the kitchen. If you are considering WWOOF-ing yourself, please see this blog post where I give my recommendations for getting started.
Some other companions on the farm I neglected to mention were Aladin the dog and Bounty the cat. Every day Aladin gives Bounty a “biting/kissing” massage that looks terrifying if you see it for the first time, he literally nibbles around her neck, grooming and massaging her. She loves it! Aladin was a lot of fun to play fetch with, and a very gentle and well behaved companion.
Whereas in Moulin de Braux Luc and Martine kept no real junk food around the house (no snack foods, chips … just a little bit of dark chocolate) - Christine and Nicolas love desserts and encouraged me early on to make some my yummy vegan desserts. Of course, I am only happy to oblige since I find it really fun to bake. Made my lemon date squares, chocolate peanut butter banana brownie cookies, and a chocolate cake. It was hard to get used to their oven and stove, which had different heat settings than the ones at home, so I tended to burn things more often! But never to the point where something wasn’t edible, ha. I think they were happy to see that vegan desserts were just as tasty.
Meals took the same shape as at Moulin de Braux: whole, organic foods with a good balance of vegetables, grains and legumes. Large salads, of course, but since La Source is not a normal farm, they maintain beautiful flowers (such as roses) around the garden. Many of these are edible, and so our salads are (dare I say) even more lovely than those at Braux.
While many of the fruit trees at la Source are still young, their strawberries ripened during my stay and the cherry tree yielded some delicious cherries. I am sorry I missed the raspberries!
With all of the plentiful roses, we were able to frequently go out into the garden and cut some bouquets for the house, which was a favourite activity of mine - the art of flower arranging. These flowers were often unbelievable apparitions:
Thinking about religion.
The strange thing during this month of farming was my sudden necessary inquiry into religion, something I haven’t thought about for years now. Martine at Moulin de Braux was a passionate Catholic, while Katie (another WOOFer at Braux) from the United States a devoted non-denominational Christian. Having discussions with them both led to me thinking again about religion and why I turned away from it; to consider how I really feel now, looking back.
Christine and Nicolas at Maison La Source, both practising Raja Yoga and regular meditators, presented yet another new perspective on religion. They view things from a completely different perspective, and opened doors to possibilities of pursuing a similar path. When I get home I am thinking about beginning a meditation practice (potentially in the Raja yogic tradition they follow), to experiment with how that experience feels for me and learn more about my spirituality. A lot of their ideas really resonated with my point of view on the world, and what I have learned from my encounters with Christianity.
The hardest part of my trip by far is saying “goodbye.” I have met so many amazing people that have changed my life, nearly every day and more than I could write about in the blog, but it is always a process of exhilarating discovery and then the inevitable parting. And of course, living and working on farms led to connections to the land, the air, the beautiful food. It will be so difficult for me to return home to Canada and have to purchase my vegetables at the grocery store. It seems wrong to pay money for salad greens, when they had been so plentiful and luscious. Of course, I have also been inspired to dream about a future possible garden of my own someday (where I think about growing flowers, spinach, herbs and onions).
While I am well into the second half of my travels now, I crave the healthy food it is difficult to prepare while on the road roaming from place to place. I learned lots of new and delicious recipes and techniques while in France that will shape the way I cook for the rest of my life. Of course, I have received much more than that out of the experience, and I am grateful.