Posted: 2009-09-24

Farm Life

On a typical day, we all got up around 6:30.  Sometimes Chad would lead a morning yoga session for those who were interested.  Breakfast at 7:00 included coffee, toast and jam, and breakfast cookies, and by 7:30 we were hard at work.  It is harvest season, so we picked various types of peppers, basil and figs.  The summer heat usually drove everyone indoors around 10:30.  Then we would work in the big industrial kitchen prepping the harvest - washing, sorting, cutting.  We also helped with labeling the jars and getting things ready for shipping.  At 1:30 we stopped for a big, long lunch, and the WWOOF work was done for the day.  Federal regulations prohibited us from helping with the actual food production, so Rita, Val and Ilya would do that without us after lunch.  In the afternoons, Chad and I would go for a walk, read, or take a nap.  We would all get together for a light dinner around 8:30 or 9:00 and then hit the hay around 11:00, exhausted, ready to do it all over again.

As you can imagine, we dealt with a lot of peppers.  We picked them, washed them, sorted them, and chopped them.  I have gotten pepper oil and/or powder in my eyes, up my nose (which makes me sneeze like crazy), on my lips, in my mouth, and on my hands.  Let me tell you, it burns and tingles everywhere that it touches, especially habanero powder up the nose!  We also learned that the Naga pepper is the hottest pepper in the world, even hotter than habanero.  Of course, we had to taste it.  Yes, it’s hot.

This type of Naga pepper is called Naga chocolate due to its color

Here are Chad and Val cutting the stems off of Scotch Bonnets

Me prepping some peppers

A pile of peppers - this was one pile out of 3 that we prepped one morning

The tips of the peppers will be made into marmalade - the bodies will be made into something else

One day we picked figs and then prepped them to make two different products - a spicy fig mustard and a fig/honey marmalade

Chad in front of one of the huge fig trees

The chopped figs go in the marmalade and the whole figs are for the mustard

Rita also markets a Torta di Fichi (Fig Cake) which is delicious.  It is made with dried figs, walnuts and orange oil and tastes like a Fig Newton cookie. 

Chad is prepping dried figs - figs, nuts and orange oil are then pressed in the steel vises to make the cakes

The final cakes are packaged with laurel leaves for decoration - I tied the strings and put the labels on these cakes

We also harvested and prepped basil.  Rita sells jars of fresh vegetable paste that is used to made soup stock.  Our job was to strip the basil leaves off of the stems so they could be dried.

Five big crates of basil, freshly harvested - the kitchen was very fragrant that morning

Our packaging duties consisted of using the paper-cutter to cut labels out of a big sheet.  Then we would stick the labels on the jars and bottles which have already been filled with powder or sauce or whatever else is freshly made.  Then the bottles and jars get boxed up and shipped out to the final destination.

Giusi putting labels on bottles of pepper powder

Me putting labels on small jars of pepper paste

A basket of Habanero powder ready for shipping

-Julia Abbott



After looking at that fabulous fig tree I'm wondering why I prune mine back every year, that is amazing.


Who's the Bimbo in the rubber gloves?


I keep looking at the bricked archway. Cool. How did you dry the basil? I have my last picking of deck-growing basil to harvest and I have enough pesto already put up. The fig cakes look yummy.


Yeah mom STOP pruning yours back... God I'm so envious of your life... ENJOY IT for me too! Miss you guys!


Absolutely amazing all the work that you and Chad are doing and the different processes for the peppers, figs, etc. And getting up so early in the morning....

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