By Matt Schepeler
Life is an adventure, and Nicholas and Grace Taylor of Brooklyn are squeezing the most out of it while they are young and before they have children.
The Taylors recently returned from Hawaii, where they participated in a program called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
“They trade work around the farm for free food and room and board,” said Nick. “Each place is a little different. We stayed on mango and coffee farms, right in Hawaii,” he said.
As one might expect, working on a coffee farm has its perks. “We weren’t really coffee people before, but once we worked on a coffee farm, we fell in love with it,” said Nick.
“And the mangos were really nice and fresh,” said Grace.
Both Nick and Grace graduated in 2009 from Columbia Central, and wanted to enjoy life before settling down to raise a family. They do, however, have a dog, an American bulldog named Potato who got to go with them on the trip. “I have a subscription for him as an emotional support animal,” said Grace, adding that the dog slept at their feet on the plane.
“We were looking for ways to travel cheaply. This [program] is all over the world, you can go to Italy, wherever,” said Nick. Grace noted that there are background checks to make sure the places are safe to stay, and in exchange for room and board, they agree to work 20 hours a week.
Nick said that besides cheap travel, he and Grace are interested in sustainability. “We want to make as little of an impact on the environment as we can. When you read labels about being ‘organically farmed,’ you don’t really know what that means until you have been there.
“We thought this would be a good chance to educate ourselves about where our food comes from.”
Organic farming was a big leap for them. Nick worked in a factory, while Grace was a chef in Ann Arbor. “I had been cooking for five years, and I needed a break. I was burnt out from the high stress environment of cooking. This seemed like a nice, slower-paced place to go to get a break,” she said.
But the couple did more than farm work while in Hawaii. They also watched children, and Grace got a chance to be a personal chef. “I made a few nice big meals for the host family, so that was really cool,” said Grace, noting that they became friends with them. On their off days, they explored the island sights and enjoyed the beaches.
Nick and Grace Taylor just returned from Hawaii, and have been bitten by the travel bug.
The Taylors left for Hawaii in September and returned in February, which was about as long as they wanted to spend there.
“It was really rural,” said Grace. “The culture is really ‘no worries.’ It is considered rude to be in a rush there, and we didn’t expect that,” she said. “It is also like everyone is family,” she said, and Nick added that the island is so small that you hitchhike everywhere.
They also discovered an unforeseen opportunity. They are trying to distribute the coffee from the farm they worked on over the winter, and are hoping to plant beachheads here.
“They [the host family] said ‘why don’t you go back to where you’re from and try to sell Kona coffee.”
“They are trying to let people know that coffee is grown in America.
So far they have one store selling the coffee – Lucky’s Market in Ann Arbor, and are selling it to friends and family.
Anyone interested in trying it out can contact Nick or Grace at 734-945-8887. To learn more about the brew, visit Malikascoffee.com.
As for the Taylors, their travel itch hasn’t been totally scratched.
“We want to travel all around the country,” said Nick. Grace said they planned to go to New York city in July, and they also hope to put up Kona coffee beachheads in Chicago and Detroit.
Nick is the son of Bubba and Christal Taylor. Grace is the daughter of Art and Sally Lemke.