Growing Good Podcast #79: Pattie Baker, WWOOFer and author

Pattie Baker Talks About WWOOFing — Traveling To Work On Farms — Gardening And Finding Hope.

by Allison Lemons

Hear about how 9/11 spurred Pattie on to start gardening, from zero interest to a need to plant a seed in the name of hope. She tells her story about how she went from growing food for her family to now traveling to learn about farming and to share her knowledge with others.

In 2008, the city Pattie lived in became the newest city in the US: Dunwoody, Georgia. From here, Pattie started following this burgeoning city’s development and was quickly named the Sustainability Commission Chairperson to help pursue Atlanta’s Green Community Certification, which included developing a community garden. (It’s now the largest volunteer-run community garden in Georgia!)

Pattie tells us about growing nearly $2,500 worth of vegetables per year from her suburban property. She talks about having witnessed the loss of the majority of her pollinators over the past 10 years and what she’s doing to educate others about this. With her daughters now out of the household, Pattie decided it was time to travel, and at 56 years old was scheduled to go to Uganda with the Peace Corps. COVID changed those plans — you have to hear about the drama of this situation — and left Pattie with a new travel plan.

If you’ve never planned to leave your garden behind for two years, Pattie talks about this process and then reversing the process when she realized she wasn’t going to Uganda after all.

Listen to Pattie’s tales of traveling around the U.S. for five months in 2023, working on farms and riding bus, bike and train. She explains the WWOOF concept — sometimes called Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms or Working Worldwide on Organic Farms — and how this educational exchange operates. Pattie talks about her $20 per day budget, traveling 10,000 car-free in the U.S.. Her book, Round America with a Duck, outlines all of this in a colorful and engaging way.

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If WWOOFing has ever interested you, Pattie offers her advice for valuing your time and expertise while outlining your goals to get the best experience. She talks, too, about preparing yourself for a WWOOFing experience, whether you’re 60 years old (like her) or a college-age explorer.

Links from this episode:

Round America with a Duck website

Round America with a Duck on Instagram

All of Pattie Baker’s books


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