help exchange   Host 32828
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Help Exchange

All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 1
Persons: 2
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 32828
Country: Italy

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Last Updated: October 15, 2017

We need help virtually year round. Longer stays (more than 2 weeks) are always preferred. We are looking for a couple of strong arms to dig a few trenches (around a foot deep) for our irrigation implant.

Fall and winter here are the most prosperous seasons of the year. A great deal of fruits ripe, starting with olives in November followed by avocados, feijoas, annonas and then all the citruses (satsumas, clementines, madarins, chinottos, lemons, oranges, tangelos, citrons, pummelos, grapefruits) but also pomegranates, guavas, hovenias, medlars, etc., etc. Some of them requires to be picked almost every day throughout all the season. This is the time when most plants embark in their slumber and thus the best time to prune.


Hi, my name is Guido and with my family (parents, sister -currently away- and grandma) live in a nice, chaotic country house in the middle of a 3 acres crazy orchard in Giarre on Mount Etna’s east side - exactly in between the mountain and the sea.

My parents work for the Italian education department, my father (Tury) as a teacher, my mother (Caterina) in administration. My sister (Chiara) is concluding her art heritage restoration studies and my granny (Giuseppa – just call her nonna) is the real garden keeper here! We are transforming an old citrus orchard into a fruit garden, trying to grow any variety the climate permits (up until now 80 different, of plants and trees; half of which tropical and subtropical). We want to enlarge the vegetable garden and start a small plant nursery and greenhouse. We are firmly against chemicals of any sort (and have always been, even before becoming certified), and pretty much orientated toward permaculture and sustainable development. We have two friendly dogs (Jaco and Bianca) and periodically – when our neighbours don’t steal them – some chickens and rabbits.

I see many of you want to come to learn or further improve Italian. I’ve been a volunteer myself; I’ve spent several months in UK and Ireland to loosen up my tongue a bit.
You couldn’t choose better place! Lot of Italian and dialect gibberish in the house (don’t forget my grandma), not to mention daily traditional Sicilian gestures and body-language :)
We are able to understand some Spanish too, and generally curious about all languages

Help: Our help requirement ranges around 5 hours per day, 5 days per week. Albeit generally in the morning, it is not rare to ask you to help at a different time of the day. If it meets your tastes, you may do even more than five hours daily and then have more time free. Our primary target of course will be everything involving the garden maintenance (cleaning, working the land, harvesting, maintaining and repairing, preserving our produce, animals etc.) without excluding the possibility to stay in the farmhouse or apartment at times as well, and help with some chores or light stuff (in case you are mixing things up, farmhouse and apartment are two different places).
There is always the chance to learn (grafting, pruning, pealing, propping, plowing, plucking, pushing, pulling, etc.). We will do our best for you not to spend all of your time in the same place or doing the same task. In fact, the farm consists of more plots (each at approximately the same distance from the apartment), although the one where the farm is located, will be probably the most attended.

Suggested clothing: work trousers/jeans, shirts (long and short sleeves), old jacket/hoodie, boots (those for builders are perfect), hat, gloves (leather).

You will be asked to stay in the farmhouse or apartment at times as well, and help with some chores or light stuff (in case you are mixing things up, farmhouse and apartment are two different places).

Needless to say helpers have to be sufficiently reliable, self-motivated and independent as we are constantly busy and won’t be able to be around all the time.
Tasks are far from being difficult. That, however, doesn’t mean helping hours have to be deemed with the same criteria as the rest of your permanence’s duration. There are things that need to be done, which require a certain amount of focus. Therefore, if you have opted for that kind of approach, you might want to consider other hosts. I’m pointing this out now to not having to say “Sorry but it is not working out” later.

Accommodation: You will be staying in our newly furbished apartment in the nearby hamlet of Carruba, 4.5 km from the farm. You will be provided with a bicycle to reach us. The time required to cycle from the apartment to the farm is not included in the helping hours. The route to reach the farm is almost all plain except for a bit more than a quarter (1.5 km) which is uphill – it has already been defined strenuous for the less experienced, therefore be aware of it. You must also know how to operate a gear system on a mountain bike. Great stuff! The way back will be pure fun :) remember, we drive on the right side of the road.
Depending on circumstances (whether you are a couple, a single person or the number of persons that will come and leave) you will be given a private or shared room and might be relocated in other rooms when necessary. Bathroom will be always shared. Wi-fi (both in the apartment and at the farm), washing machine and the normal appliances and equipment needed for everyday living. The apartment is on the last floor of a condo, surrounded by balconies and with a huge terrace from which you may catch sight of the sea (the apartment is just 15 minutes walking from it) or char yourself to a crisp under the sun.
Bus stops next door and rail station a matter of minutes away on foot.

Keep always in mind:
You are in a condominium; other people live next door. Use your common sense.
Do you best to avoid any form of disturbance, especially at night-time.
We do not have maid service, people clean as they go.
No smoking indoors.

Food: it consists of all constituents of the Mediterranean diet whereas fruit and vegetables coming primarily from our land. Of all meals, lunch (at around 2 pm) will be generally shared. We would also be delighted to try your cuisine and learn from your home style and recipes. The first and principal rule in the kitchen: NO WASTE! Always cook knowledgeably to avoid making things you may not eat afterwards. Let us know of any animal/food allergies you have.

The farm is located in Giarre’s southern outskirts (half an hour walking from the centre). The neighbourhood is provided with everything you may possibly need or want: lots of shops and even a shopping centre. Not exactly the boonies! Carruba is quieter, with nonetheless a bar, a bakery, a pharmacy, the post office (with an ATM), three or four grocery stores, a couple of “pizzerie”, a stationer, the sea, the church, the station… well, you got it! And yes, a little bit more countryside.

The location is indeed a convenient one. We are approximately 40km from Catania International Airport (35-50 minutes depending on connections between trains and airport shuttle services – the train itself, in fact, takes no more than 25 minutes to get to Catania Centrale railway station). The farm is less than a mile from the motorway’s (A18) exit and easily reachable by all busses covering the SS114 Messina-Catania.
Dealing with the magical and mysterious realm of our “wonderful” public services might sometimes be vexatious, especially on some ill-fated days and areas, particularly if you abandon yourself at their mercy without any prior knowledge. Some of them are a bit of a riddle even for us locals; some don’t even bother running on holidays. On the other hand, at the apartment, the bus stops are just adjacent the outer gates and the train station a few hundred meters away.

Being a fairly densely built area, villages often come in succession, merging together (sometimes it’s hard to say where the one ends and the other starts). You will be able to easily reach quite a few of them by bus, bicycle or even foot, covering just a few miles range. Each with its own church, square and historic core.
The area between Catania (Acireale, Acitrezza, Acicastello), Taormina (Giardini Naxos, Fiumefreddo and seaside resorts such as Fondachello, but somehow all coastal villages) and also the immediate Riposto, with its tattered promenade but with a charming Torre Archirafi (very near to Carruba too), offers a variety of cultural, historical and touristic attractions. If we, though, exclude those places, the remaining part is not otherwise much subjected to foreign clout, which in my opinion makes it even more interesting. English isn’t much used by people here, especially by the older folks. We are in touch with other hosts and organic farms (some of which hosting volunteers too), many friends and interesting people.

My family (not considering my grandma, who I like to think transcends it) might take a moment to decipher your words (they are getting better and better since the beginning), but will make up for that by being overly attentive (my grandma above all – careful wearing stylish torn attire, she might strip you naked and mend that in real time) and trying to understand your needs, doing everything to make you comfortable.

Having been one myself, I have an overall idea of how a helper likes to be treated and I will do my best in trying to make your experience as enjoyable and varied as possible. Apologies in advance for our being busy and possible lack of organization :)

See you soon..

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