When I arrived in the small village of Jarenina at the end of February, it was like coming home to me. The warm hug of Maja and Matjaž, the crackling fire in the oven and a delicious tea made from home-grown herbs were the start of an unforgettable time.
It was cold and snowing in Jarenina when my voluntary service started. On a farm that makes a living from growing fruit, vegetables and grain, there is not much to do in winter, there is time to rest or time to do things for which there is no time during the year. One of the first challenges was removing an old apple orchard with tall trees. Fortunately, I didn't have to do this on my own, as two other volunteers live on the farm with me. The beginning of the year is also the time of sowing and planting. Potatoes, onions, garlic and also carrots, beetroot and other vegetables found their way into the soil.
With increasing temperature, sunshine and rain, the variety of tasks expanded. There was a lot of weeding, hoeing and harvesting. Not only the cultivated plants shot up, but also weeds such as wild amaranth, dandelion and convolvulus.
In mid-May, the most beautiful part of my voluntary service began: the berry season. From now on we had to harvest (and eat) berries one to three times a week. First strawberries, followed by blueberries, currants, black raspberries, blackberries and red raspberries. In the middle of September, it was time for the last berries for this year, the aronia berries. A harsh-tasting vitamin C heroine who is very popular here in Slovenia and is slowly becoming known in Germany as well.
Now, in November, the feeling of saying goodbye is slowly spreading. In agriculture, the time when the days get shorter and colder is also the time when large parts of the yield are harvested. The last few weeks have been shaped by potatoes, carrots, beetroot and many other vegetables being brought in for the winter storage. I finally can see what we have been working for all year long. It's an overwhelming feeling to be part of this cycle. To have helped grow a plant from a single seed and harvest delicious fruits from it. And it wasn't just the plants that developed and grew, I myself grew during this time as well.
I had the honor to renovate the old RV situated in the orchard as my personal project this year.
I have been interested in the tiny house movement and building my own home for a while already, so this kind of building project intrigued me.
It was also a wish of mine to live in the orchard during the summer since I felt the need to withdraw from society, noise, and distractions and to find peace and awareness in nature and the simplicity and
remoteness that this space would provide me.
In the beginning, I had the idea to buy my own RV and take it to Germany with me to live in it in the
future. But I had doubts about such a big financial commitment.
Due to my undecided and changeable temper, it took me a while to come to the decision not to buy one,but to work with the lovely RV that Maja and Matjaž already owned. Since this camper might serve as an accommodation to future volunteers, I was also happy to make a useful contribution to the farm and the people living here after me.
The main work I did from the middle of May until the end of July, so that I was able to move in after I
returned from holidays at the end of August. I didn‘t know how long weather and temperature would
allow me to live there but I was quite determined to stay in RV and orchard as long as possible.
But I was lucky and after some chilly days at the beginning of September, late summer was sunny and
warm and even allowed me to go for many mild and calm evening walks until the end of September,
when it got cold and too early dark to be outside for longer in the evening.
In October it got quite rainy and cold and I was struggling with drying my wet clothes in the damp air in
the RV. But I found enough candles and blankets to stay warm and cozy in the evenings and nights, not
wanting to leave my little island yet.
In the mornings, it was hard to get out of bed, into the cold, sometimes even frosty autumn air. But the
pink and orange sunrise over the hills, the mist over the meadows, the deer grazing on the neighbor's
field, and the meetings with my friend and neighbor Harry the hare, paid off for all the cold and
I felt at peace and home in this space. The two months in the RV taught me many things about myself and how I want to live in the future and where.
I feel endlessly inspired and grateful for this experience and will remember these days with love and
gratitude towards Maja and Matjaž, who trusted me to allow me to renovate their RV and to live in their
orchard and who gave me advice on how to proceed if I had problems, to all people who supported me
during the working process and to all creatures and spirits that shared their home, the orchard with me.
STEPS IN THE BUILDING PROCESS
• tearing out little bathroom/shower cabin and huge wardrobe
• dismount cupboard doors, clean and paint them with white varnish
• tape edges of all cupboards and furniture along walls, before painting
• take out old curtains
• rip out old linoleum flooring and discovering black mold and rotting of wooden boards underneath
in the area of the former bathroom and at the entrance
• cutting out rotten wood with a saw
• filling up empty spaces on the floor with cement plaster
• cutting of nails sticking out of wall and ceiling where wardrobe and bathroom where
• painting all furniture with white varnish twice
• replacing old plastic knobs on cupboard doors with new wooden ones and putting doors back on cupboards
• measuring out flooring and sketching the layout
• Cutting out and taping together cardboard in the measurements of the future floorboards
• Cutting out wooden floor pieces, with cardboard sheets as measurement support
• laying cardboard under wood floor noise cancelation and less friction between the old and new
• laying out new floor, fitting boards into each other, and gluing edges together
• filling out gaps and cracks with silicon
• glaze floor with transparent varnish twice
• assemble left-over wood to kitchen counter cover
• sow covers for sofa cushions and curtain for open cupboard in the kitchen