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.


Phaydra Hunt said...

Hello from Greensboro, NC! I just came across your blog site this evening through "We Are All Farmers" facebook page. My name is Phaydra Hunt and have so enjoyed reading your blogs about your farming activities and farming philosophy. My husband and I are aiming to get our Permaculture Design certificate this year if all works out well. Our future goal is to start our own farm and live sustainably on it and maybe/hopefully be able to help others do the same.
For several years now I have also been very interested in the growing "WWOOF" movement. We would like to also do that for the first time this year. Doing so locally would make the most sense and thus I was very excited when I read this particular blog post. We would love to volunteer to help out on your farm in exchange for being taught some sustainable agricultural practices. My husband's name is Justin and we have a little boy who is 5.
Thanks again for all the wonderful information!

Eric & Melissa Brown said...

Phaydra, We'd be very happy to talk to you about WWOOF'ing as well as your own plans and farm-related activities. Just get in touch with us directly!