My first week at my first farm, Hidden Valley Retreat and Spa, was a lesson in perseverance. There is a huge discrepancy in the proclamations from Hidden Valley on the WWOOFing site & in Host book and what they offer/expect from their WWOOFers.
To begin though I want to say that it is by far one of the prettiest and enchanting pieces of property I’ve ever seen. There are extensive paths throughout the expansive gardens. Old heirloom roses of every variety everywhere. There are herbs, exotic trees, and flowers of all kinds. Benches to sit on and meditate all over. This is the perfect place for being alone with your thoughts and read or paint or just enjoy the view. It was owned and originated with Dr. Bernard Jensen:
Although best known for his work in iridology, Jensen was a noted proponent of a variety of alternative care methods including nature cure, hydrotherapy (such as colon hydrotherapy), fasting, reflexology, color therapy, polarity, glandular balancing, homeopathy, herbology, acupuncture, craniopathy and personology.
He owned three sanitariums, the last being the Hidden Valley Health Ranch in Escondido, California. He said he saw more than 350,000 patients in this life. For many years Jensen maintained an office in Los Angeles where he would see patients. He also saw many patients at his office at the Hidden Valley Health Ranch. The original ranch was more than 100 acres (0.40 km2). When this was sold, he began seeing patients at his office above the original land site. For numbers of years he taught iridology workshops here at the site closer to his home.
The original purpose for this property is close to my heart and my beliefs for self-care & self-awareness. This being the case and this being the philosophy that is purported in their blurb I thought it would be the perfect place for my foray into WWOOFing. I was wrong.
The current owners, who have owned it just over three years, are not involved with the property as a peaceful and organic endeavor but as a commercial enterprise. They know nothing, nor do they strive to learn, about ranching or organic/green practices. They do not look at WWOOFing as an organization for furthering interest in the environment and health of all, but strictly as a way to “advertise” the property for financial gain. There is NO effort in keeping the property organic and running it the way it was intended by Dr. Jensen.The only goal of the new owners is to have it as a money-making venture with as little monetary output as possible.
With that said the way they treat WWOOFers is as a kind of third class citizen. Work and work with no thank you, no down time, no recognition just suspicion. One of the benefits of room & board is the board part aka food. They give food to us once a week. Only one meal per days worth. This is not the norm, nor what they say they provide in the Host Book. The property is very far off the beaten path and not where one can just go to get something to eat. Especially someone without a car. They offer pick-ups and drop offs from Escondido proper, San Diego or Oceanside. Another false claim. They had me walking or HITCH HIKING to get back the Sunday before last. That is when I decided I was leaving the farm.
The accommodations are also different from what is told in the Host Book. There the owners have said that we would be housed in the converted barn. Not true. I was in a mobile home (a mobile home would be fine, but not one that would be condemned if anyone with authority were to see that it is housing people) with a bed that sloped downward. Rotten water that only trickled out of the rusted faucets and a toilet that had so much rust that it looked unusable. The heat didn’t work in my room so I was very cold. I was given a space heater that made a horrible and scary sound all night long and smelled horrible. And the whole place was filthy not dirty FILTH. With all kinds of junk and trash spread through the porch and sides. Enough about the conditions. This is some of the things I accomplished while being there:
Next post: my adventures in the real world aka beaches and coffee shops during my Hidden Valley time…