Monday, June 18, 2012

WWOOF Host Farm

  You may have noticed and wondered about the series of seemingly random young people at our farmers' market stand or the farm over the last three years.  In total we've had 19 people come stay with us on the farm, helping out with all the different farming and related activities we do (learning how to go through a bee hive, milk a cow, make simple cheeses, weeding, mulching, transplanting, scything hay, stacking mushroom logs, picking corn, threshing barley, canning tomatoes, shelling peas, etc., etc.)  Most of them have found us through a network called WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), although about a half dozen of them connected with us in other ways.  There are WWOOF networks all over the world connecting volunteers with organic host farms.  For a lot of the volunteers it's a way to take a cheap vacation (basically free after transportation), something like going to a dude ranch out West.  Michael was the first person to come stay on the farm, and he stayed for most of the summer as more of an intern, but since then everyone (so far) has come for shorter stays, mostly 3-5 weeks.  A couple Chinese graduate students studying as foreign students in New York City came for their spring break.  A manager of a World Bank watchdog organization in Washington, DC from a small farm in the Philippines took a little vacation time to get away from the office buildings to help us plant strawberries and dig peanuts.  Most of our "WWOOF'ers" haven't come with any thoughts of becoming farmers, wanting just to experience a different kind of work and life for a little while, although some have come exploring vocational options and a couple have even come with more serious desires to build on their farming educations.  We've had three separate volunteers come as part of international travels, all coincidentally from France.  A couple different WWOOF'ers have come from as close as the Winston-Salem suburbs.  It's been a fun experience for us as hosts.  We've enjoyed getting to "travel" to China and France, the Philippines, Alaska, and Miami, Florida.  We've also especially enjoyed continuing relationships with the North Carolina WWOOF'ers.  Two of last year's WWOOF'ers came back to the farm this spring to get started keeping honeybees of their own.  We're growing things like hops and Asian persimmons now thanks to our visitors.  Before they leave, we have the WWOOF'ers carve their names on a beech tree by the WWOOF'er hammock.  It's a living guest book of these random visitors' we've had the pleasure to get to know.  So that's a little introduction to WWOOF'ing and what we've been doing as WWOOF hosts.  If you know of any young people (or other adventurous souls)  that might be interested in leaving home to live and work on a farm for a period you might suggest the idea to them.