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Afton
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 202
Persons: 1 or 2
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 36671
Region: Mid Atlantic

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Last Updated: March 12, 2020

Sorry but with the various issues surrounding the coronavirus, we will be delaying opening our home for the next two months. If all goes well we may be able to start accepting farm guests again in June.

I am halter training two heifer calves, they are 10 months old now and will be almost a year old when we will be open again next season.I hope to teach them ox commands to eventually do light duty work on the farm. Come and learn with me! Planting, harvesting, weeding in the gardens, cattle care, chickens, bees, some building, in season mushroom foraging and cultivation, and much more in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mts of Virginia.

We are not your typical American family, farm stay or community. I garden extensively, have chickens, cattle. bees - somewhat like a homestead. We live in an intentional community of 60 adults and 12 or so kids and teens. We own about 500 acres of land together. Our community has been going strong for 45 years. We are based on co operative living and decision making, taking care of our beautiful land and promoting land stewardship and harmonious relationships. We live in owner built homes that range from cabins through more elaborate structures, we try to encourage energy efficiency and sustainability. Most members make a living out in the community, in town or telecommute. We tend to be left of center politically and progressive thinkers.
We are open to singles or couples, straight, LBGT or however you identify yourself, as long as you are a good person.

I always try to have two farm guests at a time, as I think it is more fun for you! If you have a friend or partner, they would be welcome. Looking for cheerful and honest workers. Please read through my info and if you are interested contact me. I prefer farm guests to spend three weeks here, and have a somewhat detailed schedule at the end of my profile. There is usually some flexibility around the dates given. Please check it out. I will send you an application and a bio of myself, family, farm and community if you are interested in a visit.

I have been hosting farm guests from other sources as well as HelpX for over 6 years and it has been a wonderful experience for me and I think for all of my farm guests. Many have had no experience, but learned a lot and had fun too! Please read the reviews here.

I always try to have two or three farm guests at a time, as I think it is more fun for you! If you have a friend or partner, they would be welcome.

Looking for cheerful and honest helpers. Please read through my info and if you are interested, contact me. I will send you an application and a bio of myself, family, farm, and community.
I am retired teacher, artist, farmer, and jack of all trades. I have an extensive annual and perennial garden. Depending on the season and weather gardening is the main work, as well as working with chickens, bees, and cattle. I am currently training two heifers to the halter and hopefully ox commands to eventually do light duty work on the farm. There are always lots of different small projects planned, both inside and out. Small projects could be helping to build a cabin, putting a roof on my tree house, small painting and deck repair at the house. While I am not a market farmer or grow commercially, I think if you are interested in growing, sustainability and alternative lifestyles, this could be a good visit for you.

This year, one of your 5 days help will be working with a neighbor of mine who is wheelchair bound due to an accident. He is a wonderful guy with lots of experience in alternative energy and building. He needs help to do things and projects around his house that he can no longer do. We are in the process of figuring out how to make a lift so he can continue to drive our tractor! He is a great guy and an inspiration to us all - You can learn a lot from him. His name is Dan, his courage and adaptability in the face of such a life change is inspiring!

We are open to singles and or couples, straight, LBGT or however you identify yourself, as long as you are a good person.
Here are some of the things you MIGHT be doing and learning: organic vegetable, herb, flower and fruit growing – plus how to cook, preserve and use garden produce; forage for mushrooms as well as how to cultivate mushrooms, green house growing; learn how to trap bees and manage hives; learn about animal care; help with building projects if we are doing some; build a roof for a tree house; use a chainsaw and log splitter; cook, bake, preserve and eat healthy foods; make kombucha, yogurt and simple cheeses; learn various crafts. Of course you will not do all of these things, everything depends on season, need and timing. Let me know what you might like to do and we can see what is available. I will also try to hook you up with other people who might have skills that I don't have – just let me know what you are interested in!

Every day will be quite varied and usually what needs to be done most is what gets done first. I spend about 5-6 hours each day, Monday through Friday doing things. Your time off is your own to do what you like. You will be living in a household of cooks where healthy meals will be served and you will learn how to cook. Weekends are your own and the schedule can be flexible, as long as you are available for 25 -30 hours per week to accompany me or engage in projects on your own. Flexibility is important, tasks vary with the weather, energy and time of year. Experience is not necessary, just a willingness to learn and get your hands dirty.

I will help you find out more about homesteading/farming culture, my intentional community, this local geographic area and it's people, as well as places of interest in the area. I take my role as a farming mentor and cultural ambassador seriously. The Appalachian Mountains and all it's lovely history, music, communities and wild places is on my doorstep to explore.

I have two bedrooms in our home for guests. Tent camping in our forest is available for those who wish, as well as a tree platform to put a tent on!

Good healthy meals and all facilities are provided in our home. We are omnivores, we can cheerfully accommodate vegetarians, as the majority of our meals are vegetarian. Vegans or other strict diets accepted on a case by case basis, but please be aware that you will be living with omnivores and you may need to supplement some of your own dietary needs.

Individuals should be socially outgoing as you might be interacting with various individuals on the farm. Your off time is your own to relax, explore or do your own projects. Rural America does not have public transportation. If you do not have a car we can help with rides to Charlottesville, but most of your time will be spent on the farm. Two bikes are available to get around on the farm and for fun. Some members might invite you over for dinner, parties happen and other social events happen. Weekly volleyball for serious players happens six months of the year, some music or drumming get-togethers' happen on a regular basis in the area. Sorry no children under 10 or pets. Pick up in Charlottesville VA, if needed.

Local attractions: Charlottesville VA is a thriving college town with a wide range of events going on year-round: music venues, art (First Fridays), lectures, galleries, crafts, history etc. Transportation into town can usually be arranged and there is a free trolley serving the University and Downtown areas. I also have a bicycle and bike rack that can be used. Visits to other farms and natural spots in the area can be arranged.

Listed below are the seasonal types of things you might be doing each month. When the weather is too wet, too hot or too cold we will be doing indoor projects in my home, the barn or in community buildings.

March - Greenhouse work, seedlings, peas go in the ground, garden preparation for the up-coming season, sometimes morel mushroom season, chicken and cattle care and general farm maintenance. Great excitement as the weather warms up and first signs of spring emerge, daffodils are blooming and the very first spring ephemerals bloom. Spring Equinox
starts our weekly volleyball games at the farm.

April - Lots of planting, seedling care and weeding, depending on weather could also be morel season. Chicken and cattle care and general farm maintenance. Set out swarm traps for more bees. Forest ephemeral
flowers blooming in profusion, red buds bloom and the weather is delightful. One of the most beautiful months in Virginia as is May.

May - Planting in full swing, frost date gone, tomatoes go in and all warm sun loving things. Chicken, cattle care, bee care and general farm
maintenance. Forest, fields, shrubs, trees are all greening out and flowering like mad. Maybe warm enough to start swimming. Farmer's market opens and runs through October.

June - The garden comes into it's own with lots of greens and lettuce to harvest. Weeding starts in earnest. I will be experimenting with
landscape cloth, cardboard and black plastic to help cut down on this onerous task. Sweet Potato slips go in the ground. If the weather
co-operates could be the beginning of Chanterelle season. Chicken and cattle care and general farm maintenance. Daily swimming begins, but not yet brutally hot.

July - Definitely, Chanterelle season unless we have a drought, first tomatoes (ensalada caprese time), daily swimming, lots of garden weeding, blue berries, blackberries, fireflies. Chicken and cattle care and general farm
maintenance. We work in the sun early and then shift to woodland/shade later in the day.

August - Harvest tomatoes, salsa making, peaches, fencing, hunting chanterelles, swimming, lots of garden weeding, making yogurt and fresh cheeses,ferment pickles and kimchi, kombucha, afternoon siesta during the heat. Chicken and cattle care and general farm maintenance. We may start our days earlier to beat the heat! All this can be done in September too.

September - Still some hot summer days and nights, but cooling off towards the end of the month, harvest galore, still swimming daily, beginning to think fall and garden clean up. Everything listed above in August except
Chanterelles are gone and we start looking for fall mushrooms. Start fall greenhouse and low tunnel planting, planning for later planting
of garlic crops and other winter vegetables. Apple and peach harvesting and processing. Chicken and cattle care and general farm
maintenance.

October - Salsa time, continued harvesting and cleaning up the garden. Planting garlic and perennial onions, sow seeds for green house and in house on light shelf. I hope to have lettuce for salad year round. If it is wet, fall mushrooms!. Chicken and cattle care and general farm maintenance. Stacking wood, preparing for winter.

November - Putting the garden to bed - remove some fencing, take down trellises, mow, till and seed cover crops, caring for early fall planted greenhouse and row cover veggies. Chicken and cattle care and general farm maintenance. Stay and join us for Stone Soup Tradition and community Thanksgiving dinner.

Happy volunteering to you and may your adventures be wonderful!

Basic Rules and Expectations

Rules are pretty simple. Be considerate, ask questions if you don't understand directions, clean up after yourself, participate in our household, be kind. Be able to help me and others, but also be able to be independent when needed. Enjoy being out of doors for several hours at a time. Be physically fit and able to help me for about 5-6 hours per day. Weekends and later afternoons and later, you are on your own to explore our farm or the area. The day starts around 8 or 9 am, I am not an early bird farmer. I expect my wwoofers to help with daily chores around the house, clean up after themselves and cook a dinner meal once per week.

I ask that you have medical insurance, or if coming from abroad have traveler's insurance. Farms can be dangerous places, especially for the uninitiated. Please be up to date on your tetanus shot or booster. We require all farm guests to have had regular childhood vaccinations, MMR, DPT, Polio etc. For both of our protection, make sure you feel up to a moderate amount of physical activity. If you are more than a little bothered by pollen, dust, dander, cats or dogs and mold or for that matter, you can't tolerate a fair amount of bugs, some reptiles, domestic animals, and the occasional wild animal, my farm might not be the best place for you.

We want honest, easy going tolerant individuals with a good sense of humor. We are a boisterous and irreverent bunch, often using colorful language. We like lively discourse on far-ranging topics. We are politically liberal, non-religious, and generous. If you are these things, we will get along.

We are omnivores that eat many vegetarian meals per week, use a fair amount of dairy and eat wheat. Sorry, we cannot accommodate vegans or restrictive food allergies, unless you supply your own supplemental proteins and other food needs that we don't have. As long as you like what we eat, we will provide all your food and snacks. We don't have much-processed food and you may need to make your own sweet snacks from our stores. We try to use as much organic food as we can afford, but not exclusively. If you are over 21, some alcohol OK, but you must provide your own and in moderation only. You can smoke tobacco outside, in a safe and clean manner. No drugs, weapons or paraphernalia associated with either allowed.

reviews (5)
Helper: Helmut and Maysu Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Germany Date: October 23, 2019
We worked at Shannon farm with Virginia for 2 weeks. Virginia, Mike, their fa... view complete review

Helper: Olivia P Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: June 28, 2018
I have volunteered at several farms & communities. Virginia and her husband ... view complete review

Helper: Andrew Sarmiento Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: United States Date: June 5, 2017
I was here for almost 3 months and it was more fantastical than I could have ... view complete review

Helper: Karim Guissé Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: Luxembourg Date: April 6, 2016
Staying at Virginia's house for three weeks was an extraordinary experience. ... view complete review

Helper: Cameron Churchill Profile: hidden - premier members only
From: New Zealand Date: March 29, 2016
I stayed with Virginia for a month over early spring. Her farm is beautiful. ... view complete review

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