Seeing the Hoyts’ humble home, their hard work on the farm, their spirituality, and their commitment to social justice forced me to ask myself what my own values were and how well I was living up to them. I think the phrase that sticks most in my mind from my time there was “What about you?” They asked me “What do you think of this? What about that? What do you believe in?” a number of times while I was there. In fact, living and working there is like one big, perpetual “What about you?”- even when they weren’t asking me, I was asking myself.

    I tried a number of different things while I was there: splitting wood, digging holes, tending the garden, milking the goats. I was not good at a lot of them, but the Hoyts were eminently patient with me. Part of their mission is to give their visitors exposure to the tasks of farm life, and so a willingness to learn is as important to them as dazzling manual skill.

    The Hoyts emphasize communication with all of their WWOOFers and you should take them seriously. The Hoyts have hosted an incredible amount of people in their time at the farm, some of whom have been truly rude and weird. If at times they seem to be overly forward with you, you have to recognize that it is reasonable. Expect any difficulties that you have while you’re there to be frankly discussed.

    As long as you can be clear, open-minded, and respectful, you can have a really good time. While I was there, I had some great meals, learned at least 20 new songs, read some excellent books from their library, biked through scenic, rolling New York farmland, learned some practical skills, and got some real food for thought at a time when I needed some.

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