An Italian traveller has relished her experience working on organic farms near Benalla.By Monique Freer
Laura Pasquali’s eyes light up when she talks about her experiences as a WWOOFer, although she laughs as she admits that many people have never heard of the strange-sounding adventure that has taken her from Italy to rural Benalla.
A Willing Worker on Organic Farms (WWOOF), the 24-year-old has spent the past six weeks working at a farm in Tatong and a cherry farm in Swanpool in exchange for food and accommodation.
‘‘It’s not just about working instead of food and accommodation, it’s enriching,’’ Ms Pasquali said.
‘‘I have memories that will really stay forever.’’
WWOOF is an international program that sees volunteers linked with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences that help build a sustainable global community.
Ms Pasquali arrived in Australia in April 2012 on a working holiday visa. After visiting parts of New South Wales and Western Australia, she decided she was not ready to depart when her visa expired.
However, a condition of obtaining a second visa was that she spent 88 days working on a farm.
Although slightly hesitant at first, Ms Pasquali was encouraged by a friend and fellow WWOOFer to register online and join the international program.
‘‘The main reason I decided to go WWOOFing was to get my second holiday visa, but I didn’t expect what I found,’’ she said.
WWOOFers work four to six hours per day in exchange for food and accommodation, and Ms Pasquali said she was so lucky to have found two farms and hosts who treated her like family.
‘‘Especially as a traveller, it feels really good to have a family away from home,’’ she said.
‘‘I’ve met so many nice and friendly people, it’s so nice and unexpected how people welcome you.’’
The first farm Ms Pasquali worked at was Riverview in Tatong, before moving to a cherry farm at Swanpool. Although only intending to spend a few days in the area, she ended up spending more than a month in the two towns and ‘‘made friends for life’’.
‘‘I was so lucky to find my way to Swanpool and Tatong,’’ she said.
Ms Pasquali also immersed herself in the local community, joining the social fun at Swanpool Bowls Club every Thursday evening, exploring the King Valley and going to local markets.
Ms Pasquali grew up in the small northern Italian town of Parma, but having lived in a flat with her parents, sister and brother, had never experienced gardens or had close contact with nature.
But WWOOFing has changed that. Ms Pasquali has done everything from apple picking, harvesting and gardening, to chasing sheep, tending to farm animals and digging up antique bottles in the swamp.
Although she departed Tatong to spend time working in Melbourne only days ago, Ms Pasquali said she would recommend the experience to anyone.
‘‘It’s a new way of travelling I’ve discovered and it’s so rewarding,’’ she said.
‘‘It was just so interesting, and when you do what you like it doesn’t feel like work.
‘‘I thought the 88 days would be hard and long, but time just flew and I actually enjoyed the country a lot.’’
Ms Pasquali said the people in the local towns, and in particular the families who hosted her, made her experience enjoyable.
‘‘I’ve found amazing people which made my experience unique. The people make the place.’’
Those interested in WWOOFing can find further information at www.wwoof.com.au
Mooroopna family flees house fire.
The winning form continued for the Mulwala seniors against Deniliquin at Lonsdale Reserve on Saturday.
The Tatura Hospital and Parkvilla Aged Care Facility, part of Goulburn Valley Health, held its annual June Hospital Collection and Open Day on Sunday with a small crowd in attendance.
Murray and Campaspe shire have decided to withdraw membership from Committee for Echuca-Moama.
Rochester Motorsport Complex will host the third round of the Golden Power Series karting championships on the weekend.
Kyabram’s first tourism booklet is to be launched in late September.
Seymour College P-4 students delight in their new surroundings.
Berrigan and Jerilderie Shires will be in separate state electorates if boundary redistributions announced on Monday come in to effect.
Heathcote Health is finalising its service plan.
Barooga Sports Club chief executive officer Greg Ryan recently celebrated 30 years of service surrounded by friends, family and past and present staff.
Former AFL player Heath Black sent an inspiring message to Deniliquin youths last week.
Goulburn Valley fruit growers may face a battle against pests and diseases this season as growers hit by SPC Ardmona’s fruit cutbacks abandon their orchards or can’t find money to properly maintain them.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.