Monday, January 11, 2010

Where we're going

We are starting to get everything squared away for our departure. Our flight will depart from Chicago O'Hare International airport on Thursday afternoon. From Chicago we head to Frankfurt, Germany with a layover just long enough to enjoy some German beer. Then to Bombay (Mumbai), India! We will finally arrive in Bangalore, a two hour flight from Bombay, at 4 am on Saturday morning.

We start at the bottom and go north!

We'll stumble out of the plane looking like zombies, probably. Not wanting to navigate a crazy-ass Indian city jet-lagged and totally green, we arranged to be picked up at the airport. Our fellow co-oper, Namitha, put us in contact with her aunt Shalini there. Hopefully she'll show us around and keep me (Andy) from doing anything too stupid for the first few days. To travel light, Paige and I are only bringing a few days of clothes and we're going to buy Indian clothes in the markets there. I hope Shalini's cooking skillz are as awesome as Nami's and I look forward to seeing what real Indian food is like. A reliable source has told me that everything in the south is fried in coconut oil, which is awesome!

A random picture off the internet of bread fried in coconut oil, channa bhatura.
I will take lots of food porn pictures for all you folks!

Farming starts in earnest on the 20th. We'll be staying for about a month and a half each at three different farms. The farmers invest time in teaching WWOOFers the skills to be helpful at the farm, so it's good etiquette to stay for at least a month afterward and put those skills to use.

The first farm we'll stay at is a small family farm just outside of Bangalore owned by a gent named John Fennessy. He's a US expat with an Indian wife, so there shouldn't be any language barrier issues while we adjust to working on a farm. What do they do there?
The land is mostly flat, the plot is long and narrow, just under five acres, with an already established mango and chickoo orchard, as well as several full grown coconuts, mangoes and pomegranate trees. We have begun making intensive vegetable gardens, and there are some completely open fields, which we hope to use for growing more veggies and field crops. That said, it is definitely a young farm and where most of the work is happening there is little shade… It is a life of simplicity and hard work amid a peaceful atmosphere.
Sweet. His farming approach is based upon permaculture which I have had great curiosity about. Traditional agricultural approaches are very hard on the soil, depleting nutrients and requiring continual addition of fertilizers. Permaculture instead aims to build healthy and diverse ecosystems that yield produce for the people cultivating them.

The beaches of Kerala will be close enough to make trips on the weekend. This is what it looks like outside of my house:

This is what the beaches in Kerala look like:

via flickr


  1. Are the three dots on the map farms at which you plan on working? If not, then what does the northern most dot represent?

  2. Your reliable source here: not all food in South India is fried in coconut oil, that's mostly Kerala. As you travel further north, the oil used is vegetable or mustard. Vegetable oil is not as fragrant, and mustard oil has a pungent smell which I don't really like.

  3. The dots represent the farms that we are planning on go to.

  4. Don't forget to buy fresh green coconuts from the roadside. You can drink the water, and then the guy will open it up for you and you can eat what's inside. Sometimes, these fresh green coconuts are orange. These are good too. Magic.

  5. Though your flight was delayed, we hope you had time for that beer in Frankfurt!

    Thx for including us in your departure -
    Let the adventure begin!

    Phil, Fran & Robin

  6. Paige, I called your mom Saturday a.m. Jan 16 for news of your departure from O'Hare; and she gave me your blog site info. It's an accomplishment for me figuring out how to navigate through this and getting this far. Andy, I should have had you tutor me before you left. You probably had less difficulty getting to Mumbai. I notice there are no photos of the Bangalore farm, so I'd head straight to Kerala!! Love, Grandma Wanda

  7. HOw did you get in touch with John Fennessey in the first place? I emailed the WWOOF in India and they seemed rather sketchy with insisting that I set up a PayPal account before getting any contact information, etc about the farmers....
    Is that how it happened for you as well? I just would like to connect with other WWOOFers and make sure that they are having a similar experience to ensure that it's legit.