Avec des ingrédients simples et naturels, les savons de Castille offrent une alternative à la mousse conventionnelle des produits de nettoyage commerciaux. Marissia, une WWOOFeuse américaine qui continue son périple avec WWOOF italia, nous envoie sa recette maison. Merci à elle !
huile d’olive (1.000 g)
eau (300 g)
hydroxyde de sodium (154 g)
Attention ! Travailler avec de l’hydroxyde de sodium est très caustique. Il faut prendre les précautions et la protection nécessaire lors du mélange d’hydroxyde de sodium (gants, lunettes et travailler à l’extérieur ou un endroit bien ventilé)
Ajoutez l’hydroxyde de sodium dans l’eau. Laissez se dissoudre.
Maintenant, ajoutez lentement votre solution à l’huile tout en mélangeant. Mélangez bien (jusqu’à ce qu’il soit un peu épais et crémeux).
Versez la solution dans un moule et laissez durcir plusieurs jours. Cette quantité fait un grand lot à stocker et à utiliser au cours de l’année selon les besoins.
Un mot : vous pouvez également ignorer l’étape dessus si vous avez déjà un savon de Castille sous la main en passant directement à la suivante pour la liquéfaction.
Après le processus de saponification, nous pouvons prendre une partie du savon pour faire la version liquide.
Pour le savon à vaisselle, vous aurez besoin de:
eau (850 g)
savon de Castille (150 g)
une casserole ou un bol pour le trempage
quelques gouttes d’huile essentielle (facultatif)
un pot ou une bouteille recyclée pour y mettre le produit fini
Brisez 150 grammes de savon dur et coupez-les en petits morceaux ou utilisez une râpe.
Mettez l’eau avec le savon dans un bol et laissez reposer toute la nuit.
Après la prise, le savon est prêt à être mélangé jusqu’à ce qu’il soit lisse et versé dans votre pot ou bouteille recyclé.
Fun fact : Le saviez-vous ?
En WWOOFing j’ai compris que le bio n’est pas seulement ce qu’on met dans notre assiette, mais aussi ce qu’on utilise pour nettoyer ces assiettes. Ce qui est inévitablement absorbé par nous et par l’environnement.
Anouk, nick named Oogie, is a Hamburg native who tries out WWOOFing on a French farm where she shares the techniques she learned from cheese making to bread baking. Through her detailed entries, readers experience what a day in the life on the farm is like with an appétit as big as the local French gourmands.
Urban shepherds, Julie and Guillaume raise a flock of sheep in the heart of La Courneuve, in Seine-Saint-Denis. Co-founders of the associative farm Clinamen, they campaign for agriculture in the city. Their sheep are sometimes the only link between living things and concrete. For them, WWOOFing is a popular way to experience what you don’t learn at school.
Having uprooted from the mother country and settling in a new land, foreign hosts retell their stories of how they came to be in France, started organic farming, and welcomed WWOOFers from back home as well internationally.
Boff, Egyptian host in Cantal
I am from Egypt and my wife is from Scotland. I’ve worked in Scotland but we didn’t meet until working in Abu Dhabi where I was for many years. What brought me to France? I always get asked this question haha! When we retired, we wanted to renovate a barn, and found the most beautiful old barns to be in France, not to mention that the countryside where we are in south-central part reminds us a lot of Scotland.
I can’t say that I have gotten a WWOOFer from my home country yet. From all over, yes! Our first WWOOFer was a girl from Japan who worked on a cruise ship. Another was an American firefighter. Others from Denmark and China. I don’t think WWOOFing is very well known in Egypt. There is not a farming or organic mentality there. But we have gotten WWOOFers from the UK and that’s always nice. A WWOOFer from Scotland stayed for 45 days; it felt like family. My wife would make a typical Scottish broth with lamb and barley. Great for winter!
Jan and Inge, hosts from Holland in Cévennes, believes in everything eco-sustainible from food to fashion
I came to France because I grew up in the countryside and wanted to give that lifestyle to my kids. In Holland, where I am from, that’s harder to do. Here there is more space to grow up in nature; the southern lifestyle is more easygoing than what I’m used to in the Dutch city.
We really haven’t hosted a lot of WWOOFers from our own country—I would say about two. And honestly I don’t find it different than hosting WWOOFers from elsewhere. Most WWOOFers are people with hope and good intentions that want to change something. We find that in all WWOOFers who come whether they are from Holland or elsewhere. With the ones from our own country, we talk about the differences between there and France: how there is little space in Holland, how there is much more regulation and social control. It’s an economically rich country and we find that people are less interested in changing eco-sustainability for the better.
That’s why we started doing WWOOFing here and how we started to attract WWOOFers with the same philosophy of life. I renovated an old abandoned home where we now live in countryside of southern France and practice permaculture and my wife uses reclaimed clothing to do upcycled, local vintage fashion.
My wife is what brought me to France. She’s french however we met originally in Thailand and after moving to and working in Mexico, the US and Paris, I was ready to get out of cities and into the countryside where we could realize our dream: zero waste permaculture where people can vacation with little impact on the environment.
I’m Canadian, but when looking for places to buy we chose France over Canada for a few reasons. Better weather for one, and a better growing season for living off-grid. Also, doing eco-tourism is easier being located in the alps where a lot of Europeans come through. Getting around Canada is more complicated and expensive.
We receive WWOOFers from all over the world, after all our goal is to be international. However, there is a sense of familiarity and comfort in welcoming those who speak English. It’s not even a Canada thing, but an anglophone thing. Whether it’s talking about music or films or jokes with a few cold beers—all anglophone countries share many things in common because of the language. And that’s the big marker for feeling normalized and back to my roots.
David, English wine and veggie grower in Occitanie
We used to holiday in France every year. I felt the time was right for a change with Brexit happening as I felt I was European at heart. We moved to France to do Organic farming and now we’re settled here. It’s quite different than London where we were living before. We actually know our neighbors by name. Yesterday my neighbor came by, he lives behind me, a hunter and left us a large quantity of wild boar meat. It’s such a difference from our nameless neighbors in London that only stopped by to pick up a parcel. People here are generous.
We get more anglophone WWOOFers than anything else. A few requests from back home, but not loads. I get a lot of anglophone WWOOFers—loads of Americans for example. I’ve never been to the States but after receiving and exchanging with American WWOOFers, I now have a better cultural understanding of the States than I did before, purely on the basis of people we’ve met by WWOOF. There is a sort of comfort and camaraderie with other anglophones, and I’m sure they find that sense of normalcy WWOOFing with an english speaking host in France.
I am an artist and painter; Hans is a carpenter. We are both from Holland but our stories of how we arrived to France are different. Hanz came to this country 25 years ago to work on a house for a Dutch architect. After the house was finished he decided to stay because he liked it very much here. I came to France 14 years ago and really, life brought us together. When I met him, I knew he was the one to realize my own projects of off-grid and sustainable living. We thought we would take a nice spot in the natural environment and be self-autonomous. That’s when we took over and transformed a house that was in ruin, and the garden.
People come from all countries—Portugal, Australia, Canada. We get about half English speakers. Dutch WWOOFers are not requesting to come so much. We imagine they want to have another experience, so we have hosted very few. If they do come, it may be because of a certain motive. Like one Dutch girl wants to live in France and have the same idea of what we do, so she asks to stay with us. But we are not looking for a contact with dutch people per se. We are so happy with all the nationalities that are coming into our home.
In winter, the pace gets slower as the temperature grows colder. But the work on organic farms continues all year around. From cutting wood to baking bread, WWOOFers and hosts talk about their experiences WWOOFing in wintertime, when there is never a lack for something to do or a warm meal to share.
Marie, organic farmer and baker in Moulières
My husband and I were looking for a farm to do organic gardening, when it all started—becoming bakers, that is. We ended up in the Périgord region, cultivating our own grains, raising our chickens, and other organic processes in order to start making bread à l’ancienne. Because we are a bakery, our principal activity is bread making! Three times a week. All year long. That’s why we do WWOOFing in winter as well.
There’s all kinds of organic baguettes, croissants, brioches, chocolatines, cookies. In the winter, we also fabricate our own flour and shiitake mushrooms when we are not prepping for market. We typically get more french WWOOFers in the wintertime than summer—the high season tends to bring more foreigners interested in travel. However, there is an American coming next month in February—a chef who wants to learn bread making in France.
Pauline, a French WWOOFer chez Marie: « Sustainability isn’t just in summer when the weather is nice »
I had finished my studies in political science and decided to do a year of WWOOFing starting last September. I want to focus on eco-sustainability thus WWOOFing made for a perfect personal project. Gardening activities slow in the winter so I’m here doing bread now, and after I will go on to work with a cheese making farm. I wanted to a do a whole year—winter, too—because sustainability isn’t just in summer when the weather is nice, but a 365 cyclical process.
Here at Marie’s, my favorite pastry that we make is the “forrestier.” It’s a sort of pie crust turnover. In the interior there’s shiitake mushrooms from the farm, Gruyère cheese…it’s super good! We always sell out of them at the market.
Laetitia, equestrian and animal farm in Saint Clément
« The activities we do in winter are different from those in summer. There’s still horse riding, cleaning of the stables, also for the goats, sheep, and pigs. The animals spend more time inside in the winter so there’s more cleaning, naturally. We have to cut the wood too for the heating—chopping, gathering it up and bringing it inside. If the weather isn’t nice, we do activities inside where we stay nice and warm, like working in the sewing shop for the summer horse shows. Here we make little artisan things we sell at shows: bracelets, key chains, paintings, etc.
Then end of winter we do lot’s of rewiring for the animals’ enclosures so they have new pastures to graze for the spring. All year around we give horse-riding lessons on the weekends. The WWOOFers help the kids prepare the horse, accompany on rides, and even do a little riding themselves! »
WWOOFing in winter sort of happened spontaneously. I was staying with friends in other parts of Europe when I started to feel like I wanted to find a way to contribute and give back to the hosts of where I was staying; that’s when one of my friends told me about WWOOFing. The first place I stayed was a chateau near Lyon. Incredible! There was an amazing garden that stretched all around, located in the alps. The hosts had me transferring their summer garden plants into the greenhouse for the winter.
The second was a farm in Saint-Marie-Aux-Mines. We were preparing for next years harvest by using the compost collected from the city. We would take it back to the farm and make long rows for the fertilizer and perma-culture in Spring.
I stayed in communal cabins in the snowy mountains, saw a jam session in a recording studio barn, and really got to live the life like my french hosts, all the while feeling honored that I could help and give back.
In fall, we start preparation of the gardens and to start preserving for winter. We teach our WWOOFers to make preserves of tomatoes, ratatouilles, fruit purées; we take all fruits and veggies and transform them with zero-waste. Moving into winter, we prepare and cut the wood, plant trees, and do fences for the sheep. Even some weekends we have work sites that WWOOFers can participate in: eco-constructon and renovation, DIY projects, cleaning and organizing within our farming community. Also very important, as we are for now primarily grain farmers and traditional bakers, is the preparation of wheat seedlings for the grain crops. So, you see, there is always a lot to do!
My dream started with becoming a traditional organic baker but my project is to grow our farm into a shared work space with many other people who share the same dream. Now we just do bread-making, but in the future we would love to expand our community to have beekeepers, vegetable gardeners, others for cheese-making etc. Since we are a growing organic community, we have activities all year around.
Martinus, farmer located in the region of Bourgogne
In summer we prepare for winter. In winter we prepare for summer. WWOOFers participate to their abilities. Chores are adapted to suit them and the weather conditions outside. A few of those activities in winter include:
Cleaning forests Cutting down trees to make room for pastures and selecting trees which we keep Planting trees Pruning fruit trees Racking leaves Chopping wood for the fireplace Repairing fences and putting up new ones General repair work on the farm and sorting and servicing tools Cleaning our herb garden and preparing it for the next season Making jam
One WWOOFER, a guy from Canada, arrived at our farm and as usual we were first getting to know one other. He told me that his father has a Christmas tree farm in Canada and he has some knowledge. I was very happy and thought how I could tap into that knowledge base. After some discussions we decided to prepare and plant a natural hedge on our farm consisting of 150 cypress trees. All done in winter. And trees are all still growing!
This time of year, as it gets dark very early we tend to socialize more. Sit around the fire, cook together, exchange ideas and just talk about life in general. Our children love the idea of WWOOFers as they love to make new friends and play. We also like it as it broadens their (and our) horizons and makes them better at languages.
Cécile, WWOOF in the Hautes-Alpes on « Harvesting the wicker, a winter specific job. »
The wicker is picked in winter, when the sap has come completely down. It is an incredible activity because it is very colorful at a time when the landscape turns black and white. The reds and ocher of the different varieties of wicker warm the heart and the fingers! We accompanied our host in the morning and then we would warm up in his little workshop where the rest of the work takes place. We sorted by size and variety and made pretty bundles before drying them.
It is a specific activity for winter and I am very happy to have experienced it. In the quiet moments, we learned to braid the wicker between the two of us, some of whom were very gifted and they showed us their techniques. The ideal is when it’s cold outside: we warm up by human heat, by the exchange of knowledge, and we discover the dexterity of which our sleeping fingers are again capable.
Today’s industrial and conventional bread has come a long way from its ancestral origins. This recipe for pain à l’ancienne, or old fashioned bread, uses ancient unmodified grains and a natural traditional yeast method that yields a home-made loaf not only more wholesome in nutrients but also in flavor.
Making the natural yeast
an old variety of « soft » common wheat (like Gentil Rosso or Rouge de Bordeaux) 200 g
water 100 ml
a glass jar, wool cloth and rubber band to cover
a bowl for mixing
Put the flour in a bowl by adding the water a little at a time until you get a very soft dough. The mixture thus obtained must be placed in a lightly floured glass jar.
Cut the surface of the dough with a cross cut and cover the container with a damp cloth and plastic wrap. The dough should be left to rest for 48 hours at around 18 °-25 °C.
After 48 hours the dough begins to swell forming large alveolars. Take away 200 g from the top and dispose. Now add another 200 g of fresh flour and 100 ml of water, knead it together, and leave to rest for another 2 days.
Continue this refreshing procedure for at least another 2 weeks.
Making the old fashioned bread
your yeast dough 50 g
fresh flour 150 g
oil 20 g
1 spoon of salt
1 spoon of honey
Pan for cooking in oven
Now that the natural yeast has cultivated you can use it for the old-fashioned bread-making (and the rest kept for future batches).
Mix 150 g of flour with 50 g of yeast dough the evening before making the bread.
The morning after, mix in another 200 g of fresh flour and 20 g of oil, 1 spoon of salt, and 1 spoon of honey.
Knead every 2 hours from morning to evening (cover with the wool rag in between kneads).
In the evening, cook the loaf in the oven for 180° C for 1 hour or until cooked through (cooking time may vary).
Et ça y est ! Your home-made loaf is ready for the next meal. Try some of the classic French recipes with bread below or enjoy alone with a bit of rich, creamy beurre.
Classic french go-to’s with bread
La tartine—toasted baguette with butter and jam
Jambon-beurre—ham and butter baguette sandwich
Croque-monsieur—toasted ham and cheese sandwich that’s baked until crisp and covered with a béchamel sauce
Le rythme ralentit enfin en hiver. Mais les fermes n’hibernent pas pour autant. Maraîchage, coupe du bois, boulange bio, récolte de l’osier… En ce moment, le WWOOF continue.
Marie, fermière et boulangère bio dans le Lot, préparer notre pain bio avec nos céréales
Mon mari et moi cherchions une ferme à cultiver en bio. Nous nous sommes retrouvés dans le Périgord à cultiver nos propres céréales en bio afin de fabriquer du pain à l’ancienne. Parce que nous sommes une boulangerie, notre activité principale est la fabrication du pain ! C’est trois fois par semaine, toute l’année, été comme hiver. Nous faisons le pain et les viennoiseries tôt le matin et nous vendons ensuite notre pain frais sur le marché. Donc même en hiver, nous pouvons faire découvrir notre métier aux WWOOFeurs qui souhaitent venir nous aider.
Pauline, en WWOOFing en boulangerie « Une année de WWOOF pour vivre un cycle de quatre saisons. »
J’ai terminé mes études en sciences politiques et j’ai décidé de faire un an de WWOOFing. J’ai commencé en septembre dernier. Je m’intéresse beaucoup à l’idée de développement durable, donc WWOOFing est un projet personnel parfait. Les activités liées au maraîchage ralentissent en hiver, j’ai donc choisi de venir découvrir la boulangerie artisanale biologique pendant une partie de l’hiver avant de poursuivre dans une ferme fromagère.
Faire une année complète – hiver compris – était important pour moi. Je souhaitais vivre un cycle de quatre saisons car expérimenter les pratiques durables, ce n’est pas uniquement l’été quand c’est agréable.
Ici, chez Marie, mon pain préféré est le « forestier ». Il est fourré aux champignons shiitake de la ferme et au gruyère… Délicieux ! Et il se vend d’ailleurs toujours très bien au marché.
Laetitia, éleveuse en Auvergne : « débiter le bois et faire de l’artisanat quand il fait froid. »
« En hiver, les animaux passent plus de temps à l’intérieur donc il y a plus de nettoyage, naturellement. Nous devons aussi nous occuper du bois pour le chauffage – le débiter à la bonne taille, le ramasser et le ranger. S’il fait mauvais, nous nous replions sur l’atelier de couture : nous fabriquons de petites choses artisanales que nous vendons lors de manifestations en été : bracelets, porte-clés, peintures, etc. Enfin, à la fin de l’hiver, nous faisons beaucoup de recâblage pour les enclos des animaux afin qu’ils aient de nouveaux pâturages à brouter pour le printemps.
Et toute l’année nous donnons des cours d’équitation pendant les week-ends. Les WWOOFeurs nous aident à préparer le cheval et font parfois un peu d’équitation ! «
Chris, WWOOFeur américain en Alsace et dans les Alpes « récolter le compost et protéger les plantes. »
J’ai découvert le WWOOFing un peu par hasard. J’étais en Europe chez des amis et je ne voulais pas passer l’hiver en invité. J’avais envie de contribuer à la vie locale. Un de mes amis m’a alors parlé de WWOOFing. Le premier endroit où j’ai séjourné était un endroit près de Lyon, dans les Alpes. Il y avait un grand jardin et j’ai aidé mes hôtes à rentrer les plantes dans la serre pour l’hiver. C’était un endroit génial.
Ma seconde expérience de WWOOFing était une ferme en Alsace. En hiver, nous devions préparer le sol pour les prochaines plantations : nous avons récolté le compost produit dans la ville d’à côté. Nous le ramènions à la ferme et faisions de longues rangées pour l’engrais et les buttes de permaculture en vue du printemps.
Ces expériences m’ont ouvert toutes sortes de modes de vies alternatives en France : je suis resté dans des refuges dans les montagnes enneigées, j’ai fait de la confiture dans une grange transformée en studio d’enregistrement, etc. J’ai vraiment pu vivre la vie comme mes hôtes français, tout en me sentant honoré de pouvoir aider et rendre ce qu’on m’offrait.
Renaud, fermier et boulanger en Loire-Atlantique « Pain, conserves et clôtures. »
« Notre ferme regroupe une communauté de métiers en bio. Et j’aimerais encore ouvrir cet espace de travail à d’autres : apiculteurs, maraîchers, fromagers… Nous sommes en pleine croissance et donc nous avons des activités toute l’année.
À l’automne, nous commençons la préparation du sol et nous continuons à transformer les fruits et légumes pour l’hiver. Nous apprenons à nos WWOOFeurs à confectionner des conserves de tomates, des ratatouilles et purées de fruits. Chez nous c’est zéro déchet !
Au début de l’hiver, nous préparons et coupons le bois, nous plantons certains arbres et nous faisons des clôtures pour les moutons. Si ils le souhaitent, les WWOOFeurs peuvent participer les week-ends : éco-construction et rénovation, projets de bricolage, nettoyage et organisation au sein de notre communauté agricole… Pas d’ennui chez nous ! La préparation de semis de blé pour les cultures céréalières est également très importante, car nous sommes pour l’instant principalement des céréaliculteurs et des boulangers traditionnels. Donc, vous voyez, il y a toujours beaucoup à faire, même en hiver !
Marthinus, agriculteur en Bourgogne : « Il fait nuit plus tôt, l’occasion de prendre le temps de discuter. »
En été, nous nous préparons pour l’hiver. En hiver, nous nous préparons pour l’été. Les WWOOFeurs participent selon leurs capacités. Et il faut savoir s’adapter à la météo. Comme nous avons beaucoup de choses à faire, il y en a pour tous les temps. Un extrait ? Voici un petit inventaire : nettoyage de la forêt : choisir les arbres à garder et ceux qu’il faut éclaircir, couper du bois de chauffage, réparer les clôtures et en construire de nouvelles, entretenir le matériel et les outils, faire les petites réparations, préparer le jambon…
Un jour, un WWOOFeur canadien est venu chez nous : son père cultivait les sapins de Noël au Canada. J’étais très heureux de puiser dans cette mine de connaissances ! Après quelques discussions, nous avons décidé de préparer et de planter une haie naturelle sur notre ferme composée de 150 cyprès. Tout cela en hiver ! Et grâce à lui, les arbres poussent toujours.
A cette période de l’année, il fait aussi nuit très tôt. Alors, nous avons tendance à discuter davantage. S’assoir autour du feu, cuisiner ensemble, échanger des idées et parler simplement de la vie en général. Pour nous, le WWOOFING ne concerne pas uniquement l’agriculture. C’est un mode de vie. Un échange constant d’idées, de cultures, de langues. Nos enfants adorent : ils ont de nouveaux amis avec qui jouer. Nous l’aimons aussi car il élargit leurs horizons et leur permet de connaitre plein de langues étrangères.
Cécile, WWOOF dans les Hautes-Alpes : « Récolter l’osier, une culture spécifique à l’hiver. »
L’osier se cueille en hiver, lorsque la sève est complètement descendue. C’est une culture incroyable car elle est très colorée à un moment où le paysage, lui, passe en noir et blanc. Les rouges et les ocres des différentes variétés d’osier réchauffent le coeur et les doigts ! Nous accompagnions notre hôte le matin et nous allions ensuite nous réchauffer dans son chaleureux petit atelier où se déroule la suite du travail. Trier par taille et par variété, faire de jolis fagots avant de les faire sécher.
C’est une opération spécifique à l’hiver et je suis très contente de l’avoir vécue. Dans les moment creux, nous avons appris à tresser l’osier entre nous, certains étaient très doués et ils nous montraient leurs techniques. L’idéal quand il fait froid dehors : on se réchauffe à la chaleur humaine, à l’échange de connaissances, et on découvre la dextérité dont nos doigts endormis par les claviers sont à nouveau capables.
International WWOOFes share their experiences of coming to WWOOF on French farms in hopes of practicing and improving their French language skills. Inversely, hosts recount anecdotes of teaching their mother tongue to their international WWOOFers and the deeply human échanges that ensue.
Odette, gardener in Montélimar
To really start to see an improvement, WWOOFers preferably need to stay a month or two and to be really present during that time. Join all the activities and conversations. You wont improve your french by staying in your bedroom! I taught some English and I used to tell my students that the worst place to learn a language is in the classroom! Several WWOOFers have started learning French during their time here and a few are inspired to continue and even go-on to become proficient.
« WWOOFing is about full immersion, linguistically as well as culturally. »
As for those WWOOFers who really improved their French…well, I’m remembering an American girl, Julie, who studied French in school. She came to stay for two months and after she went on to study French in University. Three years later she came back to visit. And then another! After these three stays, she was nearly fluent. This WWOOFer was always with me: cooking, hiking—totally present and aware of everything she could grasp and obtain. Her foreign language skills have now become so good that she coaches french athletes at a university in the US. Perfect professional French. Another young Turkish WWOOFer who knew little french when he came has gone on to work for the French Embassy in Istanbul, he got a grant to come study French in Amiens, and this year he got a job at the immigration services in Belgium thanks to his level of French.
« The most common vocabulary has to do with botany, the life of bees, the life of the garden, the life we share together…all these are very important. And food of course! »
One of Julie’s favorite French expressions learned here was On y va ! Let’s go! We were both so dynamic, always moving from one job to the next, that on y va ! was a key phrase. Another is vite fait, bien fait, quickly done, well done—very useful for work. When it comes to language differences, there is always the way of making one understand. It takes a little time…using your eyes, your smile, your hands; I even draw sometimes. There is never a complete blockage.
I wanted to study french in uni and I had two gap years to brush the dust off my french language skills. I went to a Danish travel agency to see about getting work in France and they recommended me doing WWOOFing. After working on the farm it would be a mental challenge sometimes to practice French but I would still make what effort I could. The family gave me a children’s book about the daily life that I would read every night before going to bed.. the words for plates, forks and things around the house. It actually helped! I also talked to the children; they were really bad at English which was to my benefit! I would point to something and they would say what it was in French. In free time, I would sometimes watch movies with the kids and they would put on subtitles in French.
« We have this stereotype in Denmark that French people are arrogant and they don’t want to talk to people who don’t speak their language. I found out that’s not the case at all. »
My hosts were very social, they often had dinner parties and would invite friends over; even though I didn’t know a lot of french, I would be like the fly on the wall and just listen to the French language and absorb and pick up worlds like le vin from working on the vineyard. or words for the tools like marteau for hammer when I was putting poles in the ground for the vines. My hosts also did speak English. Whenever I was confused and had a huge question mark on my face, they would switch to English so that I understood the work.
Sylvain, Vegetable Farmer in Sud Touraine
I’m very bad in English. So if the WWOOFers are working with me it can be a little more complicated—a minimum of French is necessary! However, we always have workers and interns on the farm who speak English; thanks to them, we welcome anglophones without a problem. From Korea, Australia, South America—all over. When words fail, gestures go a long way. Like pointing or miming. Which can be humorous! The WWOOFers not only learn French by speaking to me and my team, but also among each other—other WWOOFers that is. Just by working on a farm in France, they learn words for « vegetables », the « harvest », « weeding » and also words for living in community like, Est-ce que tu veux un café? T’as pris ta douche? or On va manger ! One thing is sure, a few drinks at apéro in the evening make it easier for us to exchange in any language!
We speak some English and Spanish. But we try to speak as little as possible with our foreign WWOOFers so that they get a more genuine french experience; so that they can really practice their French. We even have evenings where we put on music and karaoke in french. Everyone usually has a good laugh!
« Those who pay attention will start to pick up on expressions and turns of phrases typical to the region. »
For example, we say “gavé” a lot. We put it with everything: c’est gavé bien, c’est gavé cool. It’s like « beaucoup » or « trop » in classic french that intensifies the noun or adjective. I.e. that’s too cool for c’est gavé cool). Je mange beaucoup becomes je mange gavé. At times when the language barrier is challenging, we explain slowly and we always encourage our WWOOFers to ask questions or communicate what they don’t understand. We’re pretty numerous here—4 farmers and then we take on a few WWOOFers at a time so it makes for a dynamic and convivial environment for our foreign WWOOFers to learn French in.
« I was going through a gardening phase. Also, I love France and wanted to improve the French that I had learned in school; that brought me to WWOOFing in France. The farm was in the South, about an hour outside Montpellier. There was a big garden we tended to plus animals.
« Other international WWOOFers were there as well. We all had the same goal of practicing French. »
Like when we biked to the city on our day off, we made challenges to speak French the whole day. We talked to locals passing by. To cashiers in stores. Back on the farm, our host spoke some English so it might be half french, half English with him, but the gardener however, he spoke no English. At times there were barriers; he would speak fast or mumble the words for plants like « haricots » and we didn’t know what that meant at the time. We would guess what he was saying and he would correct us but hey, that’s how we learned. You start to catch onto the phrases.
« Coucou was a funny word I would hear all the time and they later told me it’s a friendly and intimate but also light, fun way to greet someone. »
There are two expressions I would like to share, the first being « le pain complet » for the bread we used to pick up at the boulangerie and eat cheeses and stuff with. The second being, « n’importe quoi ! » which my hosts taught me can be used so many contexts, in so many ways. Oh, and « coucou »! From the text book, you learn « bonjour » but you never learn how to say hello in a more friendly and less formal way. Coucou was a funny word I would hear all the time and they later told me it’s a friendly and intimate but also light, fun way to greet someone. WWOOFing creates an environment where you hear and use French on a daily basis, whereas in my french classes in Hong Kong it’s once a week. The basics like « bonjour, ca-va? » start to catch on without you having to really think or recall anymore. Like this, the process in the classroom seems slow, but living and working with natives enriches your ability to learn. »
WWOOFing in France vocab
Here we’ve included a top ten list of words and phrases to get you started before working on an organic farm in France. En-profitez !
Le potager – vegetable garden
Laisse-moi te donner un coup de main ! – Let me give you a helping hand!
Désherber – to weed
Est-ce que tu veux un café ? – would you like a coffee?
Biologique (bio) – organic
Ah, la vache ! – holy cow! / wow!
La terre – dirt, ground, earth
La poulailler – the hen house
Prendre l’apéro – to take an aperitif
Se coucher avec les poules – to go to bed very early (literally: to go to bed with the the chickens)
With minimal and natural ingredients, Castile soaps offer an alternative to the conventional suds of commercial cleaning products. An everyday, household item that’s used all year around, this zero-waste recipe comes just in time for all the washing-up of all those dishes for the holiday season!
To make the saponified, hard soap:
Olive oil 1,000 grams
Water 300 grams
Sodium hydroxide 154 grams
Caution: working with sodium hydroxide is highly caustic. Take the necessary precautions and protection when mixing sodium hydroxide (gloves, goggles, and working outside or in good ventilation)
Add the sodium hydroxide into the water. Let dissolve.
Now slowly add your solution to the oil while mixing together. Mix well (until thick n’ creamy).
Pour the soap solution into a mold and let harden over several days. This quantity makes a large batch to be stored and used over the course of the year as needed.
Note: you can also skip this step if you already have a castile soap on hand and go straight to the next for liquefying.
After the saponification process, we can take a portion of the soap to make the liquid version.
For the savon à vaisselle (dish soap) you will need:
water 850 grams
castile soap 150 grams
a pot or bowl for soaking
a blender or mixer
a few drops of essential oil (optional)
a recycled jar or bottle to put the finished product in
Break off 150 grams of hard soap, and cut up into little pieces or use a grater.
Put the water with the soap into a bowl and allow to sit over night.
After it has set, the soap is ready to be blended until smooth and poured into your recycled jar or bottle.
Fun fact: the soap making tradition goes all the way back hundreds of years ago to a lil’ port town in the south of France, of which a traditional soap got its name hundreds of years ago…
Savon de Marseille, or Marseille soap, holds a longstanding practice and pride of how these soaps were master-crafted in the region for generations. What has now been adulterated by the commercial market with other non-traditional and questionable ingredients, the original savon de Marseille contained only four: oil, soda, salt, water.
We pay tribute to this French method by having done our own home-made and farm-made rendition of the classic recipe. We took it a bit further for soap that is not only liquid and dish friendly but also multi-purpose for the multi-surface.
Because after all, organic isn’t just what you put on your plate, but also what you clean those plates with afterwords, which inevitably gets absorbed by us and by the environment. Happy eco-cleaning!