considering taking wwoofers
We are thinking about taking wwoofers to help in the development of our site......I believe we have enough opportunities here to be able to offer an interesting experience.
these would range from managing the chicken rotation and vegetable systems to the development of the food forest and new plantings of olive guilds and bush foods.
We will be undertaking some earthworks soonish and would be able to offer experience in surveying and pegging out contours and dam sites as well.
What have any of you guys found the expectations of wwoofers to be?
Is it something that any of you would recommend or are there problems with the scheme that we should be aware of?
advice gratefully received
I've spoken to a few wwoofers. They want to help and learn about different systems and experience the organic way of life. They want someone who will teach and not just see them as free labour. Unfortunately some were turned off and felt they were being taken advantage of. Lots of work, poor accommodation and not enough food. I think the rule of thumb is to work for 4 hours a day or have every second day off.
Ask them up front what they want to experience and why are they wwoofing to gauge their enthusiasm. Let them know what you have planned for the time they are coming to see if it suits them. Probably asking people to stay two weeks or more will help otherwise you will be continually teaching people the basics, and with long term wwoofers tell them its a great way to learn by teaching others what you have just learnt. That will free up some of your time.
Oh, tell them not to do weeding, I have heard of a few people, including Rick Coleman, who lost their whole understory of their food forest to over helpful people.
I've enjoyed my time wwoofing and used it to learn a lot. Make sure all your local PDC teachers know you are taking helpers for people who want to get out and learn and network between other hosts in your area to get the good help. Its better for the wwoofer when you get to see more of the area and can help with work exchange with your neighbours.
thanks, good advice guys....... I'll be at Rick's in a few weeks, I'll ask for his input as well!
From a WWOOFer's perspective:
I've been a WWOOFer (on and off) for over 10-years now. During this time I've probably stayed with 50-plus hosts. On the whole (almost without exception) each of my stays (ranging from a few nights, to 4-plus months) has been a mutually rewarding experience - I've gained a lot of knowledge and wisdom, and my hosts have benefited from my practically-applied knowledge and skills base. The 'trick' to our mutual 'success' has always been to maintain an open channel of communication. Beginning with me studying the WWOOF book, selecting (shortlisting) hosts that fit my general ethos (plus a few 'rough' ones, just for the learning experience), and then me making/sending the first contact telephone call/email. In the first instance/contact, I've always been upfront about my expectations, and in return I have always (if it was not automatically given) inquired as to the expectations of my intended host. Generally speaking, and even from the initial very brief contact process, one (either WWOOFer or host) can usually tell pretty quickly if the arrangement/stay I going to be suitable (mutually beneficial) or not. Of course, one can never really be 100% sure prior to spending some time with one's host/s (or WWOOFer/s) as to whether one is going to be fully content with one's situation - but that's true for any form of intentional community formation. The option for one (either WWOOFer or host) to say to the other: "Hey, this is not working out. I think it is time for me/you to leave" is always available. The beauty of WWOOFing is that it is an ethos based on openness, and the trust-building process that comes with that (as it does in the formation stage any non-heirarchial relationship).
In sum, if you have not already, may I suggest you study the entire WWOOF website, for that is where you can learn exactly what is expected of both WWOOFer and host alike. If after you have done you your homework, and you still feel that becoming a host is for you, then I say: "Go for it!" For me, being a WWOOFer has literally changed my life (obviously, for the better). I hope you to can someday benefit from what I believe is one of the best tools available for breaking down globe-wide cultural barriers known to humanity.
thank you for the reply Markos,
open communication really does make almost everything more successful!
It's great to hear that you have had such a valuable time wwoofing!
I have indeed read the woof site backwards and forwards......it's always handy to get some real world opinions based on experience as well though!
We are definitely leaning towards taking the plunge......It could of course be some time before we even get an enquiry and as you say a lot can be gleaned from good communication between both parties prior to accepting!
I've been a wwoofing host for seven years and I'm extremely grateful for the help I have received from people from all over the world. Wwoofers are essentially travellers––as opposed to––tourists, they take time to experience a place and learn from the experience. I have met some wonderful people and made many friends. I live in a remote area of rural New Zealand and as a result I provide very specific information about what we are doing, what we require, our accommodation and food provision etc before a wwoofer arrives so as to avoid misunderstanding and dissatisfaction from both parties. I send out a whole lot of information and images to each and every enquiry and out of 100 enquires, about 15 wwoofers actually arrive, but when they come, they are well informed and have a good understanding of what we'll be working on...hope this helps and happy wwoofing,
Regards from Sunny Karamea,
PS: If you'd like to see an example of the e-mail response to wwoofing enquiries I send out, please e-mail me any time.
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