By: Hank Davenport

On Saturday morning, June 6, 10 RPCVS and friends gathered in a residential area in Point Loma. Our intent was to learn and participate in what is known as WWOOFing. (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farming). Our hostess, Soiree Leone, met with us in the front of a somewhat non-descript home and introduced herself and WWOOFing. She then pointed out that the front yard was part of her organic garden. What she proudly displayed before us as a garden was to me, an unkempt eyesore.

We were led to the back. Before us appeared an area that to me was reminiscent of the growth I had seen in Peru. It was green everywhere. There were raised beds, plants and trees that seemed to take every available square foot of space. We gathered close to the back of the home, (the only available space) and listened to Soiree expound further upon WWOOFing, her role in the movement (podcasts, etc.) and the general history of her garden’s development.

After a break during which we were allowed to peruse a diverse library of related books, we were given a tour of the garden and all of its features. Included were the raising of chickens (an ingenious coup), mulching, composting, grey water use, soil boxing, human waste management, worm cultivation, irrigation, vegetables and fruits. Interesting was her take on the human effects on plants and vice versa. While guiding us, Soiree appeared to open up to us evermore-so her encyclopedic mind. She explained everything that we were viewing in detail along with expanding on pollination, bees, weather, establishing and utilizing a barter system of crops among neighbors and more.

Sioree related to her garden as if it was one of her close family. I understood why when she took us in the garden she became more relaxed, open and almost radiant. We had been honored to be in her world. There appeared a harmony in Soiree’s garden world. She is a true friend of the Earth.

The concept of sustainability came to mind. We had been made aware of the hands-on process of WWOOFing, creating a truly sustainable, organic garden. Perhaps we were also introduced not only to a wonderful example of how we can help to create and maintain an organic garden but also how that garden can provide an avenue for creativity and also help to sustain us, spiritually.

We then helped with “cleaning” areas that needed to be weeded. (Soiree would say, undisturbed). It was with a new awareness and respect that I returned to the front yard. Almost reverently, I pulled weeds, laid them out on the ground to create a mulch along the vegetables, herbs and fruits that were growing there, seemingly amuck, being watered by grey water irrigation.

We ended by expressing our gratitude to our most knowledgeable hostess and left feeling that we had taken a step towards being WWOOFers.