Volunteering Italian Style

Naples has so much to offer… lovely coastline, kind and friendly people, and of course Pizza – vegan pizza at that! What it is lacking, however, is green space. Most people live in apartments and if they do have a house, there is no real garden to speak of. What the city does have is an ancient vineyard, on a large hill, in the heart of the city.

(The vineyard is at the top of the hill in the background. What a hike!)

(Yes… I get to make my way up there every day!)

Vigna di San Martino was originally part of a large monastery that sits on the top of this hill, next to a castle of course. The monastery and castle have since become museums and the vineyard… the vineyard has become a community garden and green space for the public. It promotes and practices organic, biodiverse farming. The Vigna offers citizens an experience with nature that serves to educate them on the importance of eco-friendly organic farming. This experience is like no other in the area.

(But you can’t beat this view!)

(Mount Vesuvius)

So where does volunteering come in? Volunteering at the Vigna generally involves working in the gardens, ensuring the weeding is done and that there is a variety of heritage fruits and veg growing. This past week, I spend most of my days doing this type of work. It’s hot, real hot here in Naples and working outside is not for the faint of heart. But I dug in and got dirty – which is my way. But on Friday, my job changed and I couldn’t be happier.

(Organic gardens don’t weed themselves!)

I’m now working with the few animals that live on the farm. These animals are safe here and they’re well loved. There are 2 donkeys, some rabbits, and lots of chickens and other foul. My experience at Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary really prepared me for this. They are wanting to take the best care possible of their animals, yet the Vigna does work on limited funds. So my goal is to educate them and be very creative! The ultimate goal is to have these animals available for the summer camp children to experience them and learn that they have personalities and need to be treated with kindness and respect. This is an exciting task for me, because I really love animals and getting children involved with them early plants a seed for kindness in their futures.

(I’m so at home with farm animals… Or, well, any animals.)

(I call this guy “pajamas” and he rules the roost!)

(I try to bring treats to the animals when I can. These were quality nectarines!)

So I’m looking forward to working more with these animals and showing the kids how fun they can be.