WWOOFing in South tyrol

Six weeks working on a hemp farm (http://www.ecopassion.it/) in South Tyrol, an autonomous province in Northern Italy.

Exchange facilitated through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (http://www.wwoof.net/)

two Local magazine articles highlighting Ecopassion's collaboration with WWOOFers published during my stay (https://www.barfuss.it/leben/so-stark-wie-hanf) and (DER-VINSchger-unsere-zweite-haut)

week 1

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In the corner: Dried hemp stalks. Each stalk must be pressed using the wooden mechanism (pictured in the foreground) to separate the shell from the fiber. Once the shell is discarded, the fibers are combed and can be spun into yarn.

In the corner: Dried hemp stalks. Each stalk must be pressed using the wooden mechanism (pictured in the foreground) to separate the shell from the fiber. Once the shell is discarded, the fibers are combed and can be spun into yarn.

Second floor of the barn

Second floor of the barn

The main house of the farm

The main house of the farm

The barn cat

The barn cat

The llamas

The llamas

Retting process of the hemp stalks

Retting process of the hemp stalks

Walking through a market that sold local wine, produce, roasted chestnuts, pastries, farming equipment, etc.

Walking through a market that sold local wine, produce, roasted chestnuts, pastries, farming equipment, etc.

On the weekend, we drove an hour further into the mountains to visit Martin, a master spinner and leather maker in South Tyrol. He is one of the few people who still makes yarn by hand to sell to local weavers.

On the weekend, we drove an hour further into the mountains to visit Martin, a master spinner and leather maker in South Tyrol. He is one of the few people who still makes yarn by hand to sell to local weavers.

Learning how to use a wooden tool that splits the hemp stalk from the fiber.

Learning how to use a wooden tool that splits the hemp stalk from the fiber.

Close-up of the process

Close-up of the process

Hemp and linen skeins, combed and ready for spinning.

Hemp and linen skeins, combed and ready for spinning.

Sketching Tschengls, the closest town to the farm.

Sketching Tschengls, the closest town to the farm.

Baby alpaca

Baby alpaca

Outdoor watercoloring

Outdoor watercoloring

Two-week old calf

Two-week old calf

Visited a felt maker's studio in Merano, a city about an hour away from the farm. A close up of a blanket that mixes hemp fiber to create a flecked texture.

Visited a felt maker's studio in Merano, a city about an hour away from the farm. A close up of a blanket that mixes hemp fiber to create a flecked texture.

Knödelsuppe - The most delicious meal here. One of the "knödel" was filled with beets which is why the broth is red.

Knödelsuppe - The most delicious meal here. One of the "knödel" was filled with beets which is why the broth is red.

Here, Martin is tanning the skins using a specific kind of tree bark mixed with salt and water. A skin can sit in the tank for weeks until it is ready, which is why 99% of all commercial leather products are now tanned using a chromium chemical treatment. The tanning time is significantly reduced, but the toxicity of the treatments cause severe implications:  http://gizmodo.com/how-leather-is-slowly-killing-the-people-and-places-tha-1572678618

Here, Martin is tanning the skins using a specific kind of tree bark mixed with salt and water. A skin can sit in the tank for weeks until it is ready, which is why 99% of all commercial leather products are now tanned using a chromium chemical treatment. The tanning time is significantly reduced, but the toxicity of the treatments cause severe implications: http://gizmodo.com/how-leather-is-slowly-killing-the-people-and-places-tha-1572678618

3 varieties of hemp fiber, shells removed and ready for combing. The far right is the most durable fiber and used for shoes/bags. The far left is the softest fiber and used for clothing. I'm not quite sure what the kind in the middle will be used for yet.

3 varieties of hemp fiber, shells removed and ready for combing. The far right is the most durable fiber and used for shoes/bags. The far left is the softest fiber and used for clothing. I'm not quite sure what the kind in the middle will be used for yet.

week 2

Harvesting red grapes from the company vineyard to be brought to the Van den Dries family at   Weinhof Calvenschlössl   in Laatsch, a few towns over.

Harvesting red grapes from the company vineyard to be brought to the Van den Dries family at Weinhof Calvenschlössl in Laatsch, a few towns over.

Observing the winemakers: The grape bunches were weighed, then dumped into a machine that separates the grape from the vine.

Observing the winemakers: The grape bunches were weighed, then dumped into a machine that separates the grape from the vine.

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The grapes were then deposited into metal vats for fermentation.

The grapes were then deposited into metal vats for fermentation.

Neighbors in the village center making sauerkraut

Neighbors in the village center making sauerkraut

Putting labels on hemp lotion bottles to be sold at local markets.

Putting labels on hemp lotion bottles to be sold at local markets.

week 3

A local Italian production company came to the farm to film a documentary on hemp production. My host's friend, Andreas is demonstrating how to spin the fiber using a traditional castle wheel. The documentary will be be aired at the end of this year.

A local Italian production company came to the farm to film a documentary on hemp production. My host's friend, Andreas is demonstrating how to spin the fiber using a traditional castle wheel. The documentary will be be aired at the end of this year.

100% Nettle fiber jacket, handspun and handwoven.

100% Nettle fiber jacket, handspun and handwoven.

Hemp trousers (industrially spun and woven)

Hemp trousers (industrially spun and woven)

Closeup of 100% hemp knit-like fabric -- face and reverse side.

Closeup of 100% hemp knit-like fabric -- face and reverse side.

Passing Laas, the hometown of my host. Laas is known for the pure white marble quarried in the mountains south of the village which has been used in buildings world-wide, including the Victoria Memorial, London and the Ground Zero subway station in New York City. The WWII Normandy American Cemetery crosses were also cut here and the roads in Laas have been paved with those leftover pieces.

Passing Laas, the hometown of my host. Laas is known for the pure white marble quarried in the mountains south of the village which has been used in buildings world-wide, including the Victoria Memorial, London and the Ground Zero subway station in New York City. The WWII Normandy American Cemetery crosses were also cut here and the roads in Laas have been paved with those leftover pieces.

The first snow of the year - November 7th

The first snow of the year - November 7th

Snail mail to friends in Berlin, Sweden, London, New York City and Providence.

Snail mail to friends in Berlin, Sweden, London, New York City and Providence.

Observing the production of hemp bricks at my host's construction company. These bricks are a sustainable alternative to conventional concrete and are bound using lime mineral from France.

Observing the production of hemp bricks at my host's construction company. These bricks are a sustainable alternative to conventional concrete and are bound using lime mineral from France.