3 Things I learned from WWOOFing in Serbia.

By Posted in - Europe & Travel Blog & Volunteering on October 31st, 2011

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A big reason we like WWOOFing so much is that it enables us to mingle with locals on a daily basis, experiencing regional cuisine, culture and customs, while giving back to the farmer and ultimately the community.

Last year, on our WWOOF farm in Italy, we got to experience firsthand the labor of love that is the annual grape harvest for wine production. The days were long, the lunches were divine, and the conversation and laughter flowed late into the evening.

So when Katarina and Miroslav of WWOOF Serbia contacted us about coming to check out some of their farms, we were excited to delve into a country that we didn’t know a lot about.

During our time we got to hang with Dragan and Olivera, a local raw food celebrity in Cortanovci, and Milos, a star in his own right who has started a village revolution in the hills above Soko Banja.

I learned a lot during the two weeks, but these are the three things that stand out the most, aside from our composting toilet at Milos’ farm.

1. Homegrown organic tomatoes from both farms were some of the juiciest and tastiest I’ve ever eaten. Yes, they were that good. In fact, it took a bit of the punch out of the Greek Salads in Thessaloniki, because the tomatoes just didn’t compare.

2. Making simple, sweet wine from red and white grapes that you can get from a local farm (or grocery store) is easier than home brewing beer. Seriously, all you have to do is destem and crush the grapes, and then let them ferment while pushing the grape skins down in the vat on a daily basis. While you still have to ensure you are holding vats and materials are clean, making wine doesn’t require the extreme cleanliness of brewing beer.

You can have tasty, low alcohol wine in about two months and very good strong wine in about a year. The key, just like home brewing, is to get the rotation going, and then you will always have one to drink and another batch processing.

3. Peppers or Paprika as they are called in Serbia are amazing and a national staple. Most of our meals consisted of some sort of roasted pepper. One of my favorite dishes is a plate full of roasted red peppers sprinkled with fresh garlic and pepper. So simple, yet so delicious!

In the coming months, we will be publishing more from our time WWOOFing in Serbia, but if you can’t wait for our updates, I highly recommend checking out wwoofserbia.org or following them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

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(15) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Jan Ross -

    October 31, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I was just reading about factory farms in my latest issue of “O” magazine and it reinforced my decision to eat organic fruits and veggies and locally raised meat. It sounds like you had some really wonderful local food and drink, as well as great experiences.

    • Bethany -

      November 1, 2011 at 11:25 am

      I hear you Jan – more and more things are pointing us in the same direction! Another thing was eating on the farms in Serbia. We were so healthy there eating all of the homemade organic food. We both felt great. Ever since we left we have been sick one way or another. In Greece it was stomach problems, now we have the flu. I have been craving the organics from Serbia for weeks now. I really, really feel it makes a difference in the quality of life. In fact, the raw food movement is catching on there and I have a whole post I am going to write on it. One of the farms we stayed out was owned by a famous Serbian raw chef! She taught me a bunch of amazing recipes that were really easy to make. I keep saying with her around I could be raw all the time and much better off for it! I went to the grocery today and bought fresh fruits and veggies in the hopes it will help us get better quickly. @Jan Ross,

  • Stephanie – The Travel Chica -

    October 31, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I’m looking forward to more stories. I am considering WWOOFing in South America. If you (or any of your readers) can recommend good farms in Argentina, Chile, or Bolivia, that would be great

    • Bethany -

      November 1, 2011 at 11:27 am

      Ooohhh. I’ve always wanted to WWOOF in that part of the world too. We had a great time in Serbia and would go back again in a heartbeat. Really WWOOF’ing is great – you meet excellent people and it makes travel much more exciting. If I hear of anyone who has wwoofed in South America I will let you know. 🙂 @Stephanie – The Travel Chica,

  • Christy @ Ordinary Traveler -

    October 31, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I completely agree about home grown tomatoes. Store bought omatoes have never been the same since we started growing them.

    • Bethany -

      November 1, 2011 at 11:30 am

      I know! You look at them in the store and you’re like ‘nah’ there is no way it’s going to taste like a real homegrown tomato! Glad you guys got a tomato garden going. Yum! @Christy @ Ordinary Traveler,

  • Maddycat -

    November 1, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Move over Italy – sounds like Serbia is the place to sample the best of what Italy claims is theirs… Tomatoes and wine! Would love to try some WWOOFing myself – have bookmarked this one for future reference!

    • Bethany -

      November 1, 2011 at 11:32 am

      hahaha! That’s true! Although I will say the wine we drank on the farm was very different from the wine in Italy. It was really refreshing and fruity. I loved it! I definitely recommend WWOOF’ing too. We’ve always had a great time doing it and made some really awesome memories as well. We’ll have a lot more coming out about our time in Serbia over the next couple months. 🙂 @Maddycat,

  • Anthony -

    November 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I am so excited for you guys. So inspired. Can’t wait to read more entries from your adventure. The tomatoes sound incredible. I crave them now!

    • Bethany -

      November 6, 2011 at 2:58 am

      Thanks Anthony! We have a lot of stories about Serbia – we really liked it there. 🙂 @Anthony,

  • Kurt W -

    January 2, 2012 at 5:50 am

    Great post. I am considering WWOOfing this summer in Asia. Locally grown produce is unreal. As organic farming becomes more popular there are some issues with long term sustainability as referenced in a NYTimes article this weekend. Hopefully the kinks can be worked out in terms of availability, pricing, and labeling as proper organic and not just quasi.

  • Culture-ist magazine -

    January 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    We’ve been considering WWOOFing for a while now, especially as part of a journey through France or Italy. Thanks for the shared experiences, they really help paint a picture of what the time spent WWOOFing will be like. Looking forward to hearing more about your time in Serbia.

    • Randy -

      January 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      @Culture-ist magazine, Our first time WWOOFing was on an Italian winery, Fattoria Cerreto Libri (http://www.cerretolibri.it), about 20 minutes outside of Florence, and it was fantastic. Like our time in Serbia, we were blown away with the food, wine and people we met on the farm. If you ever have any questions, just drop us a line.

  • Dragana ECOmmitted -

    March 16, 2012 at 3:09 am

    Great blog post and amazing photo! I’m glad you liked Serbia and our food! I recently discovered WWOOF and I will definitely get in touch with Serbian WWOOFers 😉

  • Canyoning Wales -

    April 25, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Great blog post and brilliant pictures. That roasted pepper dish has got my mouth watering! Its often the simple dishes that pack the biggest punch. At the moment its spring time in the UK and I’d love a really fresh tomato!