Brief garden update: Wwoofers arrived yesterday and helped me to pot up seedlings and weed the front garden. More of the same today. I will also spray the roses and fruit trees with Yates Liquid Copper. The photo is of our radish seedlings. While spaced close together, they are growing nicely.
“We all need a bit of help at times”. So a journalist friend of mine who lives in New York wisely once consoled me when I leaned on her for support. In this post, I’m going to talk about when you might need help in order to manage your property. The starting point is to not take on more than you can manage! While this sounds sensible, it is very easy to get carried away when you become so passionate about something. Sometimes, you need assistance if you become injured or sick in order to get things back under control. Some health issues mean I’m sick periodically. I basically wouldn’t be able to maintain the garden if it wasn’t for help from wwoofers after those times.
You might recall me mentioning in a previous post that mum and I host wwoofers. Since Carol mentioned wwoofing in her comment on my last blog post and Sarah said that she might look into getting wwoofers, I thought I would discuss our experiences as hosts. We started hosting in 2017.
Things to bear in mind before you consider hosting wwoofers:
· You don’t have to have a farm or lifestyle block. You can become a host if you live in an urban area like us and have a garden
· You need a spare bedroom to accommodate the wwoofer(s). Not everyone has this
· Wwoofing is voluntary, but you need to provide accommodation, food and (usually) wifi
· It’s not for everyone. If you’re not particularly social/prefer to be very private, you may not want people you don’t know living in your home and having to interact with them
Still interested? Here are some advantages and disadvantages to hosting wwoofers:
· You get 4-5 hours help around the garden every day!
· You don’t need to pay wwoofers
· You choose who you want to host, how long they stay and when they come (subject to their availability)
· If wwoofers have been wwoofing before they might have some reviews on their profile, so you know what to expect
· Wwoofers are generally young and fit. They have lots of energy, enthusiasm and a genuine interest in gardening
· All wwoofers we have hosted were educated, well travelled and hard working. We’ve never hosted anyone that was just out for a free ride
· Wwoofers often do a better job than if you paid someone to do the same work. I was so happy with the work one French wwoofer called Ivan did pruning and shaping our camellia trees that I took him and his girlfriend out for lunch to thank them. None of the wwoofers we have hosted have ever done a shonky job.
· It can be hard finding a suitable local to help you in the garden even if you can afford it.
· Wwoofers are prepared to do work that locals won’t do even if you paid them! We had trouble finding someone to help remove kikuyu grass from our garden, but this was no trouble at all for American wwoofers Becca and Alex. Working together, we managed to dig it out by the roots and extend the garden
· We enjoy the company and cultural exchange. I have had some very interesting conversations with wwoofers. It is a two-way thing. I have also learnt a lot from them!
· Wwoofers can be very talented. One American girl called Becca was an incredible cook and made us sushi on two occasions, as well as a delicious Thai curry
· Wwoofers feel like family and can become friends for life. I still keep in touch with many of the wwoofers we have hosted
· If you can speak another language/have a different mother tongue or come from somewhere else, you may be able to find someone from your homeland. I can speak French, so we enjoy hosting wwoofers from France
· Wwoofers are not professionals. You need to be prepared to show them how to do things, but they pick things up very quickly
· Sometimes you’re not able to get help when you need it most due to lack of availability or if you’re not impressed with the requests for stays that you’ve been receiving.
· You can’t rely on wwoofers showing up and/or staying for the duration of the agreed visit. For example, the two German girls staying with us now were delayed three days in arriving because there was a technical problem with their flights and they had to stay in Dubai unexpectedly. On one occasion, two girls packed up and left at very short notice
· Some wwoofers can have a lot of baggage/personal issues. We once hosted a wwoofer who was highly troubled and incredibly dependant on us for company and support during his stay
· Theft is a possibility. Over time, we have noticed a few things go missing in our home which makes us feel a bit sad as we become quite close to the wwoofers who stay with us
· You can’t quite trust reviews left by previous hosts, who may not be completely honest (or even write a review at all in the case of a bad wwoofer) for fear of retaliation. A bad review on a wwoofer’s profile becomes redundant at the end of the year when their account expires and they leave the country but it remains on a host’s profile forever!
· Lynda Hallinan once said that wwoofing can be hit or miss, which sums it up perfectly
Still have questions? Please leave a comment below or feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org