Location: Cane Garden Bay, Tortola

As soon as I awoke, I knew it was going to be a day. We woke up earlier than the last few days because we had work to do, and unfortunately for Sadie, she didn’t wake naturally, so she was met with an accidental face-full of water as I opened her damp hatch from the night’s rain. Her glare rivaled the face of a disappointed mom. After everyone was up, we began our breakfast of cold bagels and yogurts solemnly as memories of breakfast burritos and banana bread bounced through our heads. After our unfulfilling so-called meal, we prepared for our day of work on Aragorn’s eco-farm. While we knew we should be excited, the unknown potential for our labor’s use seemed to suck the excitement from our perception. When we approached the dock, however, we glimpsed the first of Aragorn’s impact on Tortola, a lovely art store with fascinating metal creations displayed visibly from the water. This piqued my interest, and I began to question the validity of my mood. And our group seemed to approach the day more openly.

Once we all had departed our lovely dingy Lava, we boarded a large Taxi driven by a stoic and careful man named Nando. He helped us load our tools and water into the back, and we left the port for the farm. The drive was a reasonable length, but many of us were unnerved by the careening turns and switchbacks as we climbed Tortola’s dense and green mountain. The road was thin and had many speed bumps, but Nando respectfully slowed down for them and left our heads unbruised. As we passed farther and farther up, we looked to our right and glimpsed in the distance a murky tributary freckled with many pink dots, which Nando revealed as Flamingos. This fact awoke the group’s curiosity, and everyone was visibly more interested in what could and would come next.

After driving past many fascinating examples of humanity and civilization, we arrived at Aragorn’s farm. We knew Aragorn would be out of town for our visit, but we expected to meet his assistant instead. However, after unloading our tools and asking Nando to pick us up at 1:00, we met a young Frenchman named Loique. He was participating in a lifestyle called WOFing. (World Organic Farming) He had boarded a boat from Italy to Tortola with no knowledge of what was to come and had found a program that allowed him to live and eat on this farm for free, all for 5 hours of his labor daily. Loique welcomed us to the farm and explained Aragorn’s goal of growing food without the use of any chemicals and bringing food to the BVI without the use of importation.

As Loique guided us to our first project around the house we had arrived at, we were struck by the sweet smell of mangos and frozen by the enrapturing view of the ocean’s magnitude, seemingly stretching into eternity. Below the view of the ocean, we saw the farm go down from the peak of the mountain we were on in a series of switchbacks not unlike a Donkey Kong level. Along the way, we met an extroverted cat that, however cute, could still learn a thing about post-sneeze hygiene. Loique showed us some areas where various vegetables were growing and instructed us on which ones were and weren’t weeds. After that, Aragorn’s assistant, Drake, arrived and showed us where he wanted us to till dirt for future planting.

Then we got to work. I started out with the group that was tilling, which consisted of Sadie, Stella, Rory, Nicole, and me. The others went to different spots to weed. We began unrolling the cover and raking the weeds out. Then, a farmhand named Ace came and showed us how to use a pitchfork to loosen and uncover the dirt. After around 45 minutes of work and some mild teasing by Ace at the amount I was already sweating, I switched out with Sophia and went to weed. Around that time, Krisz arrived, and he passed out mangos. As he was unwilling to walk all the way down the hill to our weeding spot, we had to catch mangos at terminal velocity. It was entirely worth it. All the monarchs agreed they were the best mangos we had ever had, and we all snacked on them throughout the day.

While the work was tough, the farm was beautiful, and we made sure to explore all of it. The farm ended after five or so switchbacks down the humid and jungly mountain. Along the way down, we met a wonderful orange cat that was greedy for attention. The farm’s finale was a small yet vocal chicken coop that was dotted with the occasional feisty and surprisingly large hermit crab.

Before leaving, we took in this little slice of Eden one more time. The buzzing of vaguely bird-like insects, the gentle rolling of the ocean in the distance, the sweet smell of mangos, the unwavering vitality of the thick jungle, and, of course, the finished section of dirt we had prepared for future growth. The drive back was relaxing, and Nando dropped us off right where we started. As promised, the staff allowed us to eat lunch at the restaurants on the port. We were lucky enough to catch the dramatic ending of the Wimbledon final as the roaming chickens ate the occasional dropped fry. We all appreciated the chance for a meal prepared with anything but the boat food, and we enjoyed our cold drinks, too. Afterward, we went back to the boat and had some time to swim and relax. After our Thanksgiving feast and Sophia’s dramatic upheaval due to a laughing fit, we ended the day with a documentary about saving our coral reefs.