Megan and Isaac have certainly been our most organised and prepared volunteers to date. From our very first communication they were determined to visit us and straightforward about how they were going to achieve it, which I appreciated very much. It was certainly a sign of the good things to come. Isaac turned out fresh sourdough bread and amazing chocolate brownies from the full size oven in their van and Megan came up the hill with full force and enthusiasm everyday, in every weather, and we were all motivated by her cheerfulness and can-do attitude. We were so sorry to see them go, and especially little Norman the puppy who embraced the mountain life with total abandon. We are forever in debt to them for their tireless work on the seemingly never ending “piles” project to restore the olive orchards to their former glory and remove tons of piled up branches left over from the pruning. We would never have finished it without them and we hope they come back soon, very soon!
Megan and Isaac. Winter 2020-2021.
We are Isaac (24), Megan (26) and Norman (5 months) and we live full time in our campervan. Isaac is a chef and Megan is front of house/cleaner/pet sitter/TEFL student. Norman is our lab/cocker spaniel puppy, full-time greedy pig and newly discovered almond enthusiast and connoisseur.
Length of stay: 3 months
Season of visit: Winter
What were you doing in the weeks before you arrived at the Freedom Farm?
Before we arrived at the Freedom Farm we had (like most people) quite a different year to what we had planned due to the pandemic. We were living and working in Brighton at the beginning of the year only to lose our jobs during the first lockdown. Then we took on fruit picking in Herefordshire, where we lived on a campsite just round the corner and picked raspberries, strawberries and blueberries for the summer. We also spent a lot of time helping Isaac’s grandparents doing lots of cooking and keeping the wrinklies entertained! After the fruit picking season ended, we decided we were ready to get our first van dog and that’s when Norman arrived on the scene!
How did you find out about the Freedom Farm and what attracted you to it? Isaac saw a comment on an alternative living group on Facebook and dropped Max a message at the end of October.
What were your first impressions of the place and how was your first night?
Beautiful and idyllic. We had an incredibly quiet and peaceful night under the stars and milky way.
Everyone who visits the Freedom Farm experiences unique challenges, what have been some of the challenges you’ve overcome?
How remote it is here, even though we are used to living off grid you do not quite realise how far away from everything this place is and when the weather is bad, you really can’t get out and you can feel quite isolated. With it being wintertime, we had heavy snow during our stay, the worst Spain had in 40 years and so were stuck for a good 10 days while we waited for it to melt and the road to dry out before we could get our van back down the hill again. Fortunately, we were fully stocked with food and gas and made the most of the time by playing board games and eating lots of sweet treats with Max and Nic. We also found that keeping the van warm and the solar panel clear of snow was a full-time job, we really were back to basics for the 3 days during the snowstorm.
What accommodation did you bring with you and how did it go?
We live in a self-converted off grid ford transit camper van that we have been working on for the past couple of years. It went really well, we have always aimed for our van to be off grid for around 2 weeks at a time and so made sure that we had a sufficient sized water tank to deal with this (175L). We are also pretty used to things breaking and so improving on the go which we had to do with our water filter which we changed while at the freedom farm. We have a 300w solar panel on the roof and two 110ah batteries which when we thought were on the way out, turns out there’s just not enough sunlight in the UK to keep them charged, since being in Spain, they have magically recovered!
How would you describe the place to a friend or family member back home?
A very remote slice of paradise away from almost everything, a place where you can enjoy nature and your own thoughts without the interruptions of modern life and technology.
Can you describe what a typical day on the farm is like or tell us about a memorable day you had?
We would usually come up around 9:30am and take the 2 puppies plus Norman and any other dog who happened to want to come for a walk and do some dog training with them. Then it was cup of tea and project time, this could either be working on “piles” (processing the wood pruned from the trees into firewood) or a fun garden or building project (most notably Megan and Isaac built a new chicken palace and an entire potting shed complete with a shade net roof to keep the sun off the small plants!). Then it would be lunch around 1pm with whatever delicious dish Max had rustled up, a favourite being the breakfast scramble on Max’s homemade wood fired bread. Then usually that would be it and the afternoon onwards would be our free time.
What have you learned from your visit to FF? Have you changed in any way?
We discovered how great it is being within driving distance of the dump and discovering the treasures that people throw away.
If you had a magic wand and you could give a gift to the FF, what would you give? A dozen sheds.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about coming to the FF?
Do it, it’s a great place to see how you can live off grid and be in a really beautiful part of the world.
What advice would you give to someone coming to the FF?
Be really prepared to live off grid. We were pleasantly surprised with our set up and how well it worked however we did spend a lot of time planning to live off grid and designed our van build for that purpose. There is no phone signal to speak of, we found we could get a little bit in random spots but as soon as the weather changes or the wind picks up you have none. During the snowstorm we had no signal at all. We put a router in our van before we left but have had no luck with our current antenna and intend to get a better one for more remote places in the future. Also, you should expect that communal living is tough, have an idea before you turn up of what you want to achieve personally and how much you are willing to get involved.