I hope you all had a good weekend. Mine was very busy. I managed to plant most of our pumpkins into the garden, as well as some more zucchini. I also potted up some more melons that came off my heat pad (“Banana” from Kings, “Honeydew” from Yates and “Inverno” from Franchi) and planted two cucumbers against an obelisk (“Long Green” and “Continental” from Yates). I’ll see how these ones go before planting out more. I also did quite a bit of harvesting and put together a box of produce and plants to share with the staff at my gym. No photo again, as the place that repairs phones was closed yesterday.
I know I’ve already written two posts on wwoofing. I promise that this one is final. After our latest experience, we have decided that we will no longer host wwoofers. Before she left quite suddenly, the girl who stayed with us most recently accused mum and I of saying a number of things to each other about her that were completely untrue. It became evident that she was eavesdropping on our conversations (which were about the running of the household, gardening tasks etc) and when I told her we hadn’t said those things, she then admitted that she may have not heard correctly. I couldn’t believe that someone could make up a complete pack of lies about us! She also twisted a number of things that I had said. She asked if she could break up her stay with a trip to the Bay of Islands. Normally, this wouldn’t be acceptable once a stay had been arranged but as she had come a week earlier when the previous wwoofer left at very short notice, I was obliging. She wanted to go for two days, but I told her that if she wanted to stay for longer that would be fine as it was a long way to go. I also told her I would understand if her plans changed and she decided to stay there, rather than return to us. I was trying to be accommodating and nice to her! I had to ask her about her departure date, so I could book the next person. She turned around and twisted it, saying that I couldn’t wait for her to go away and didn’t want her to return!
Since we started hosting in 2017, I have invested so much personal time, thought and energy into wwoofers, all of which begins well in advance of their stay. While they are here, mum cooks high quality meals and even tries to accommodate their tastes. I try to educate them as much as possible about gardening and like learning things from them, too. To reward productivity, I try to give wwoofers extra time off (they always get a day off per week anyway), take them out to lunch towards the end of their stay and sometimes buy them little treats I know they will enjoy while they’re here.
Tthis has been a long time coming. What happened on Saturday wasn’t an isolated incident, but part of a pattern of behaviour we have been seeing lately. In summary:
· Wwoofing isn’t what it used to be. We have noticed that the quality of wwoofers has steadily declined over the past two years
· You can’t always go by reviews. Some of the most troublesome wwoofers had received five star reviews from other hosts
· You can’t be too trusting. You don’t know who you’re letting into your home and what they might have done in their life. Their persona on Wwoof might even be a complete fake!
· I’m tired of people departing at very short notice, leaving me in the lurch with the garden
· A lot of wwoofers really resent having to help me in the garden. Working hours, conditions and time off are all specified in our profile. Many wwoofers have done Couch Surfing before, where they got a free ride at the host’s expense. Wwoofing is different!
· I’m sick of people comparing our place to other hosts. The wwoofer who just left asked me if our place was like other hosts. No, it’s not. That’s what makes wwoofing special. Every property, garden and host is unique. Furthermore, there is regional variation and of course the contrast between town and country. There’s no such thing as a “typical Kiwi”!
· The hardest thing for me to deal with was people’s attitudes. I’m a happy, enthusiastic and positive person but some wwoofers can be moody and even hostile. I’m sick of always having to be cheerful and polite to people and be treated like crap in return
· Although we’ve never gotten a bad review (yet), I’m sick of always having to be so nice to wwoofers for fear that they will say something bad about us, even when they have definitely crossed the line. After our conversation on Saturday, it also made me realise that a wwoofer can make up stories about us, which affects our ability to attract wwoofers in the future
· Some wwoofers have a lot of baggage which affects their behaviour. Many wwoofers are travelling as a way of escaping their problems and put a lot of that on hosts, which isn’t fair. You can’t run away from your problems and sometimes you need therapy to deal with them.
· I suspect many wwoofers are drug users, indeed we had one stay with us who was in recovery. He told us that many other hosts do drugs with their wwoofers. I think some wwoofers get quite a shock when they realise that we don’t sit around smoking weed all day
· Solo travellers in particular expect company from hosts after working hours which isn’t possible at the moment due to training, appointments (I see the physio regularly for a couple of injuries) and errands. Any spare time is spent managing the garden, organising tasks for the next day and working on my blog. I don’t have really have any free time!
· Some wwoofers lack cultural sensitivity and don’t seem to understand what is appropriate to ask hosts about themselves. One wwoofer really upset my nearly 70 year old mother when she asked her some highly insensitive questions about South Africa, where she grew up during the apartheid era
· Against the background of the dramas above, delegating tasks and managing wwoofers was actually more difficult than just putting in a bit of extra time and getting on with the job myself
With wwoofing behind us, I feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and I am free to carry on with developing our summer garden. This subject is officially closed for me (subject to any comments or questions below), but I wanted to share these final reflections as I know that some of you are considering hosting wwoofers. Your experiences might be different, but consider yourselves warned!