The following article is a guest post by Kurt Trumble from WanderLusting.info. In continuation with showing the amazing opportunities available to you when you travel, Kurt shares an inspiring insight into the impact working on a communal, organic farm in Belgium had on his life.
I was there for the organics, sustainable farming, communal atmosphere and Belgium waffles. What I ended up leaving with was a deeper appreciation for community, friendships and a simpler way of life.
Growing up in the suburbs of New York I never spent time on a farm, certainly never an organic farm. The concept of a nearly self sustained way of life was not a new one for me, but not one I had ever realized before my time on the farm in Sint Katelijne Waver Belgium.
The farm was the home to a small community of travelers, students and folks from around the globe. The small community and makeshift family continually changed as old friends left and new ones came to stay. Everyone who came through enjoyed the simple though tiring labor of the farm, which supplied produce for over 100 families in the surrounding area.
I came to appreciate the labor that goes into producing the nourishment for our bodies. I came to realize the meaning of what I had only understood at a cursory glimpse. Sustainable farming, sustainable living – a more simple way of life – is a far throw from a disassociated life from nature and the earth, amongst the backdrop of US suburbia. Not as far a throw as the life style of any number of rural farms in many other regions of the world, but a good balance.
When the majority of the food on the table comes from your own labor in the soul, perhaps a delicious Leek soup (my first experience with this tasty dish) you come to welcome a relaxed meal and a large group of friends to share it with. Those same people who were bent back over knee, picking the weeds from the soil. The time and effort that went into growing, harvesting and preparing the meal does make it all the more delicious.
It is this foreign style of living, deliberate, paced, self-sufficient and communal which was a personal challenge to acclimate too. A struggle during my stay that I did not fully appreciate or come to see until my time on the farm had passed.
To appreciate community, the common struggle and work that goes into the collective good of the farm and the supported families was a personal challenge. I tend to be socially outgoing, but reflect inwardly and reveal little of my personal side. A condition of many, but taken up as a banner in modern American culture. This made for a tedious balance of the personal and social differences which exist in such a setting.
Perhaps oddly enough, my time there came to be highlighted by one person in particular. Another American from New York. A young, vibrant, refreshingly optimistic and exploring artists named Teal. This one girl taught me what it means to put yourself out there to experience life, make the most of every experience and keep a positive outlook. To say that her energy was contagious, her search for a calming life of balance, would be a slight understatement.
Teal and Dayna (my girlfriend at the time) would sit and play their guitars and practice songs for their upcoming street busking tour (Never did happen). Dayna would teach everyone how to spin poi or hoop dance as the evenings faded and pizzas were cooked on the outdoor oven we had made from clay on the farm. These peaceful, simple appreciations only became more cherished when the laborious farm work of the mornings became routine during the 2 months on the farm.
The weeks working the farm and living within the community imprinted indelible lessons, which have shaped me since. Do not clutter your life, live as simple as possible. If it was good enough for Einstein it’s probably good enough for yourself. Hold onto the cherished time with those that cherish your company. Be present in the community you live in and the family that surrounds you. The times will pass and the best chance to make a world you wish to live in is to act in the present with the help of your closest companions around you.
About Kurt: Kurt grew up on Long Island in New York. He spends his time learning emerging open source technologies and social media. He runs Travel With Drupal, focused on Drupal webdesign and blogging (http://www.travelwithdrupal.