With all the pumpkins now growing (no baby plants in sight), priorities on the farm turned towards the potatoes (at the time of writing there is still at least a week’s worth of digging work there) and sorting out the pumpkins and onions from the last harvest. The remaining pumpkins were segregated by weight, and then bagged up (presumably) for sale – except for around 700 kg, which we packed into (potato) boxes for Chuseok gifts. Chuseok is the Korean harvest festival, and pumpkin isn’t a traditional food for that time – my host is trying to break into the lucrative feast market, and may well succeed. Onion sorting consisted of separating the piles into good condition, poor condition and rotten. Good ones are sold, poor ones go for juice or seed and rotten ones are scraped up with a shovel and composted (that is, thrown down the nearest slope – which happens to be round the back of somebody’s house). For variety, we also picked some corn and planted some radish, rounding off a solid week’s work.
News of my presence (and, presumably, fame) has spread rapidly in city council circles, and one day last week the Hwaseong City Sustainable Agriculture Officer came to the farm for the express purpose of visiting me. This reinforces my opinion that I’m the only overseas WWOOFer in the country – most foreigners pull down W2,000,000 a month teaching English and a homestay volunteer must be a rarity. My host expounded his various plans for things like a global WWOOF network, pan-Asian cooperation and pumpkin flavoured tofu, causing some confusion but general respect. Later on, we went to visit the analysis and plant science laboratories, with me making a brilliant impression due to my knowledge of things like autoclaves and inductively-coupled plasma spectrometers.
The weekend kicked off with the usual amazing food (tofu satay, noodles and cheesecake), some Korean short films (one about a teenage werewolf, one about – we think – murder victims getting revenge on their killer and one nominally about martial arts) and a round of Boggle (longest word: flitted, by me); a rather decadent breakfast the following day consisted of cheesecake and hot chocolate. More food heaven was to come in the evening, with a Seoul Veggie Club dinner party at a sublime apartment in Itaewon. The amount, range and quality of vegetarian and vegan food was almost overwhelming, and I’m still reeling from it. We (sadly) left a little early and went out to the studenty area of Hongdae for a U R Seoul gig, finally getting back to Yongin in the wee hours. Sunday was designated chill-out time (Puzzle Quest and Scrabble), but we did accept an invite to the enormous house of one of Amy’s friends (a friendly and entertaining entrepreneur) and had more delicious food and home-made wine. There may also, through this person’s myriad connections, be some different work available for me closer to Yongin. We shall see.