Growing Organics Down Under

February 4, 2016

Kasey Cheydleur

Two young women by an orchard
Photo credit: Kendra Lockard

While students on campus bundle up for the winter in Ohio, Kendra Lockard decided to spend her winter term somewhere sunny and summery: New Zealand. The first-year chemistry major volunteered with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), an organization that links organic farms and small holdings willing to host volunteers in exchange for their work. Lockard says she wanted to experience living and working on a farm and the chance to travel to New Zealand was hard to pass up. Accompanied by two of her friends currently on a gap-year, Lockard journeyed to the other side of the globe to work on a blueberry farm.

The Blueberry Farm and Bakehouse is no stranger to welcoming in WWOOF volunteers. Located north of Wellington in the Akatarawa Valley, the site usually hosts volunteers between one and four months at a time. Primarily a pick-your-own site for blueberries and blackberries, the farm also operates a small café offering treats that contain the fresh produce.

Lockard says her duties at the farm varied from day to day. After cooking breakfast, she might run the café, show customers the blueberry fields and the river, sand down benches and tables, or pick blueberries and blackberries. On her first day, she learned how to weed whack, which she says was “empowering.” After the tasks were done and the café closed, Lockard says one of her favorite activities was to swim in the nearby Akatarawa river to cool off and relax after a hot day. Looking ahead, she says she is not sure she wants to live on a farm after this experience, but she has not ruled it out either.

At Oberlin, Lockard has worked as a content editor for The Synapse, the student-run, campus science magazine. This semester she says she looks forward to dining in Old Barrows co-op, taking singing lessons, and joining a dance club.

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