Stephanie Brake
Stephanie Brake
New Zealand 2011-2012
Stephanie Brake earned a Bachelor of Arts in Entertainment Industry Studies from Belmont University with a minor in Spiritual Formation. Volunteer work on a farm in Waipahi, New Zealand will provide an opportunity to dig deeper into social justice, Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) and a host family in the South Otago region. " Read More About Stephanie →

Living Arrangements

It wasn’t only the countrysides and creatures I grew accustomed to. Coming to Marama asked for me to adapt to a whole new routine and way of life. I had to give a little and get a little.

On eating matters…

Over 90% of the food I’ve consumed since my arrival has been locally or organically grown or both, even the meats (more on this and why I gave up pescetarianism later on).
The water comes from a nearby creek and is pumped back to the farm through a piping system; it’s safe to drink on tap without the aid of a purifier.
My interest of unveiling the magic of tea has quadrupled.
I get my eggs from the chicken house.
I get my dairy products from Missy, which would include milk and learning how to make butter, yogurt and various cheeses from scratch.
Many of the veggies, along with herbs, come straight out of the garden and/or greenhouse.
On any given day, I cook my breakfast and dinner. “Smoko” (a term for morning tea known by Kiwi farmers) and lunches are shared together with Graham and Giselle.
We daily bake our own bread usually combining ingredients exempt of gluten. Sometimes we add a variety of nuts or dried fruits into the mixtures too.
Food scraps can go to one of the following areas: compost bucket, worm food bucket or fed to the chickens.

On lodging matters…

I live in a three bedroom cottage that can hold up to 6-8 occupants.
It is as tidy as the residents keep it.
It doesn’t have central heat or air. If I’m cold, I must make a fire by putting paper down, then pinecones, then dry kindling after the cones are ignited – in that exact order.
If I’m hot, I open a door/window.
Space is not an issue. I have everything one would ever need. Lots of book shelves.
No locks on the doors. Turns out the world is not out to get me after all.
There’s a compost toilet separate from the house; it does not have plumbing.
To be mindful of water, I give myself no more than 15 minutes for a shower. I’m hoping to get it down to 10.
Trash is burned daily in a drum bin.
We recycle or re-use as much as possible – glass, plastic containers, metal cans. Cardboard goes to the worms.

 WWOOFer House

Kitchen area

Living & dining area

My bedroom

My bedroom continued


Entry to outhouse

Compost toilet (I’d be lost without those feet prints...)

Creative toiletry rules

First successful fire, after 100 or so repeated failures 

All the change has been equally challenging and rewarding. I had to come to terms that nature and I couldn’t be separated. I had to trust that others would not invade my privacy. Until I went on top of the roof and wrapped chicken wire around the chimney, I even had to rescue trapped birds in the furnace; the first one chased me throughout the whole house! But with the new cycle in motion, I also began to catch on to the fact that trifles are celebrated here. Things I would’ve normally ignored were now brought in full, uncensored swings to my conscious.

Like the budding of a flower or the flight of a colorful bird; neither goes unnoticed. Or how sensational supper tastes at the making of your own hands, even when you did not get the recipe entirely right. The softness of soil. Riding the quadbike and the wind brushing your hair. Rain right after you’ve put seeds in the ground. Bentley’s obnoxious morning calls when you forgot to set your alarm. Work gloves hanging out of your back pocket. Standing on top of a pumpkin patch and knowing you are the king of the hill. Turning your cell phone off. Constant chuckles during newspaper quizzes, a Marama tradition after lunch, always facilitated by Graham’s hilarious remarks. Silence when everyone in the same room is reading something different. Giselle’s winks when she catches your eye. Just when you begin to think you aren’t doing good enough, a compliment comes or a message from someone you miss. Playing an original song on an acoustic guitar outdoors and looking up to find you’ve gained an audience of cows and sheep lined up at the fence. Hatch’s obsession for you to pet her. Clyde’s cleverness to escape any catastrophic situation. Dave’s and Tina’s (the farm managers) short fuses and profanity as plans go wrong. Cozy, comfortable light one lonely lamp can produce.

This and that and so much more. Amazing to see what happens once I widened my eyes and paid attention.


“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  ~Leonardo da Vinci

One thought on “Living Arrangements”

  1. Wonderful details! And perfectly written! So, we’re agreed. Your masters degree must be in creative writing. And you can make your own world at the back of your dad’s property….I miss you very much. When is the return home?

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