Permaculture in Action

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Willing Workers On Organic Farms. Evie asked if they were worth it and I may have given a false impression about them with all my whinging. The short answer is Yes they are. We would never have got as much done here in the beginning without them and they have been very important in the ongoing function of the farm.Since 2006 we have had over 85 wwoofers. Some come as a means of improving their English, others to get to know Aussies and their way of life and some come because they are interested in sustainable farming and living. The former are sometimes in for a bit of a shock because we could in no way be classed as your "Typical Aussie" and they're a bit surprised by the work they are expected to do, the composting toilets, the vegetarian food, snakes etc, etc. But on the whole they take on the challenge and leave with a whole different outlook on life, so in some ways we are doing more for world peace than anything else! And some, a small minority just don't get it and leave to find something more to their liking, something more like a resort.We are a working farm and we expect our wwoofers to put in a good and fair days work, and for that they get great accommodation and good organic food.

Here's a bed the wwoofers and Mark have been working on. A no-dig bed for corn and beans, and zucchini

 We stipulate that our wwoofers stay for at least a week because it takes a couple of days to train them and we don't want them leaving just as they learn their jobs. And after the week if they like us and we like them we renegotiate and some wwoofers have stayed for a few months, but they are the ones who are here because they are interested in sustainability. And then their are some who say they are leaving after a day because the works too hard and we are happy to see them find a new place. They are not all going to fit in. In the 85 or so that we've had we've seen 2or 3 leave early and a handful leave after the weeks up and the rest have stayed longer. Most we are still in contact with and it's been a lovely experience on all sides.

Feeding them and organising and supervising is a big thing. The ones who stay a while get to know the place really well and can be left to get on with it on their own, so it takes the pressure off us a little in that regard. And food , well it's just a matter of being organised. I make big meals not necessarily more and so I shouldn't really have to be in the kitchen all that much more. We feed them lots of rice, and pasta dishes, stews and soups, curries etc. Baking for morning teas can be more time consuming but if they are able to do some of my farm work then it can be of benefit for me to be in the kitchen. Lunch is usually home made bread and cheese and that seems to fill them up.

We have learnt a lot since first taking on wwoofers, and things have evolved to fit in better with our lifestyle. For instance I provide the food but the wwoofers have to get their own breakfast, that leaves Mark and I to have breakfast on our own and sort our day out. All other meals they have with us. They have to clean the wwoofers room and the bathroom before they leave. Smokers are allowed but they have to confine themselves to one area of the farm where I've set up a table and chairs for their use. And there are many more things that we have implemented because they suit us that may not be found on other places. We provide pushbikes so they can go for a ride to the shops or internet cafe.We have left wwoofers in charge while we have gone away for a few days break.

And no matter how good they are sometimes it's just so good to be here on the farm by ourselves when they leave.


  1. We do sometimes get WWOOOFers - World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms - this is fair enough as long as the opportunity is to be in the open air and/or learn organic gardening. WWOOFers do work hard here at certain times of the year when we have a stack of preparation and planting but they never have to work any where near as hard as Kate and I do.
    Some of the young blokes try hard to work harder that the "old bloke" and I love it when that happens, we get some serious work done then.
    We have had mostly great experiences and have fabulous people and thing go well when the WWOOFers get the Willing Workers bit.

  2. That was great to hear a little more about WWOOFing because we have had a few discussions about having WWOOFers here. We don't feel organised enough at the moment, but when I don't need to travel every week I will have more time. I think it would be a fantastic experience and............ gee, I could find some jobs for them!!!!!!

  3. Thanks for the clarification, Kate! We do have a few friends that have Woofer's and they have always given me the impression that it's mostly easy! So when i read about all the extra work you had I wondered if they were giving me a brighter pic than reality!! Great to hear thats not so.
    We hope to plant a bigger garden along with all the other ideas that flow through our minds, so when our little cottage has been extended Woofer's are a possibility.
    Have a great week!!!

  4. Thanks Kate for such an informative post since I had no idea what a woofer was. I am kind of wishing I was younger so I could just pack up and work like that. It sounds like a wonderful way to learn. Have fun.

  5. I too have never even heard of the term, so I learned something new today....always fun to learn about other cultures. Thanks for sharing.