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: December 26, 2017

We need help all year round. Longer stays (3 weeks or more) are preferred. We are looking for a couple of strong arms to dig a few trenches for our irrigation implant.

Fall and winter here are the most prosperous seasons of the year. A great deal of fruits ripen, 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 need to be picked almost every day throughout 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 parents, sister and grandma we live in a nice, chaotic country house in the middle of a 3 acre 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 as many varieties as the climate permits (up until now 80 different 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. We are pretty much orientated toward permaculture and sustainable development. We have two friendly dogs (Jaco and Bianca) and periodically some chickens and rabbits – when our neighbours don’t steal them.

I see many of you want to come to learn or improve your Italian. I’ve been a volunteer myself; I’ve spent several months in the UK and Ireland to loosen up my tongue a bit.
You couldn’t choose a 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: We believe 5 hours a day, 5 days per week is a good match for room and board in exchange. 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 even do more than five hours a day and then have more days off. 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.) we may ask you 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 farmhouse 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).

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. There are things that need to be done, which require a certain amount of focus. Therefore, if this is not for you, you might want to consider other hosts. I’m pointing this out now so we don’t have to say “this isn’t working out”.

Accommodation: You will be staying in our newly furbished apartment in the nearby hamlet of Carruba, 4.5 km from the main plot, which I will generically call “farm”. You will be provided with a bicycle to reach the plot. 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 flat except for the last 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 the number of people that come and go, 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 tan yourself to a crisp under the sun.
There is a bus stop next door and train station a matter of minutes away on foot.

Always keep in mind:
You are in a condominium; other people live next door. Use your common sense.

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 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 walk from the centre). The neighbourhood provides you with everything you may possibly need or want: lots of shops and a shopping centre. Not exactly the boonies! Carruba is quiet, however it has a bar, a bakery, a pharmacy, a post office (with an ATM), three or four grocery stores, a couple of “pizzerie”, stationers, 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. The apartment is r e a l l y close to the train station – Google map says around 4 minutes on foot.
A word of advice: 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.

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. However if we exclude those places, the remaining part is not otherwise subjected to foreign clout, which in my opinion makes it even more interesting. English isn’t used much by people here, especially by the older folk. We are in touch with other hosts and organic farms some of whom host volunteers too.

My family might take a moment to decipher your words, my grandma transcends the need to. They are getting better and better though since we started hosting and will make up for it by being overly attentive. Be careful wearing stylish torn attire around my grandma, she might just strip you naked and sew you back together in an instant. They will try to understand your needs, doing everything to make you comfortable.

Having been a helper myself, I have an overall idea of what it’s like 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 possible lack of organization :)

See you soon!

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