Permaculture in Action

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No More WWOOFers -- part 2

Our WWOOF journey continued on for 6 years. Mainly they were backpackers looking to improve their English and get a feel of Australian life. I'm not sure that they were prepared for the way we live but most settled into it quite well. The hardest things to get used to were composting toilets, the heat, and snakes. One young newly weds arrived, fearful of everything. Back in Germany, Sahsa's dad was a pest exterminator and he was terrified that the couple would be killed by all the terrible creatures we had here in Australia. The couple were so frightened that they didn't sleep for the first half of their visit. They lay huddled together waiting for some imaginary insect to creep up and get them. The most frightening for them was the cockroach that we have here, so they were told, that lays small eggs that can't be seen and if you step on them they burrow into your skin and hatch and thereby slowly kill you! Once reassured that that was not true they were able to relax a little.

One year, in early January, Mark and I bought an old caravan on ebay for more accommodation.

 It was in Sydney and the annexe had to be dismantled and all got ready to be moved by large truck to the farm. Fortunately two wwoofers appeared just in time to help Mark. Adam was from England and Angus from Canada. They had both arrived from their northern winter to the depths of a very hot Aussie summer. All three travelled to Sydney and back for three days working in the blistering heat to get the van ready for transport. They were both such hard workers and great people.

Adam just before heading off  on his next adventure

Here is what Adam wrote in our guest book...

"Thankyou for letting me have this wonderful experience. Not only has it been good fun, I have also learned a great deal. Mark, Kate, you are a wealth of knowledge. There are things I have learned that I will take with me for the rest of my life. Good luck with everything, especially the caravan and annexe"

Merel giving Angus a haircut

Merel was from Holland, a truly lovely young woman. She loved helping make vegetarian meals and learning how to make pasta and yoghurt. Food was a very important part of the wwoof experience. We had to become very adept at at preparing quick, easy but nutritious food. We must have got it right as it was the most remarked on feature of most wwoofers stay. But one experience with a Malaysian man showed us how difficult eating foreign food could be. Sam was  a retired man. He was a hard worker and always ate all that was on his plate but consistently refused seconds.At the time Mark had a rule that for one night it was up to the wwoofer to prepare a meal that was usual for them to eat at home. Sam cooked us a traditional Chinese Malay dish, feature lots of cabbage and oil. Mark and I found it very difficult to eat and certainly refused seconds, but Sam had serving after serving. He just couldn't get enough. A little wake up call for me!

But not all of our wwoofer were back packers. We had quite a few Australians travelling around the country.

There was Marie and Peter who had travelled all around Australia in their little off road campervan. Gee they were great workers and fun to have around.

Yuki and Andrew threw in their jobs in Victoria , packed up their belongings and hit the road in their Camry stationwagon. They were off to find a new community to settle down in. They stayed with us for a month. I hoped that they would like to stay in our community but their hearts drew them northwards. Yuki was originally from Japan and at the time I was still working at the Steiner school. So I asked if she would like to come with me one day and teach the children origami. She agreed and it started something long lasting for Yuki. She became enthralled with Steiner Education and decided that was she would look into further. That day the children learnt some origami and Yuki learnt how to crotchet. Many a night she and I would sit chatting and crotcheting. Mark and I nicknamed their car 'The Tardis". I remember starting dinner one night and realising I didn't have an onion. Never mind says Yuki we have one in the car. One day they said they'd like to go for a bike ride. No worries says I, we have wwoofer bikes. Oh no says Andrew we have bikes. I hadn't seen any bikes when they drove up, what could they be talking about. The bikes were collapsable and were in the back seat! The stuff that came out of that car was just amazing. They have moved on and settled in the north like they wanted but are sorely missed here.

Rahkel came in the middle of a very long and terrible drought. Rahkel is a remarkable young woman and it was a real pleasure to have her stay. This is what she wrote in our comments book...

"By your strength this oasis is growing. Thankyou for creating such a beautiful little piece of the world to share with others as we strive for balance in our world. Thankyou for the opportunity to come and live here and get to know your beautiful farm. Your gully-raker is coming soon"

 She had not long finished school, so still a teenager, but what a sensible head she has on her shoulders.

I'll leave you today with the Irish Blessing as Rahkel wrote it in our book...

"May the road rise to meet you,
 And the wind be always at your back,
 And until we meet again may God (Earth) hold you
 In the hollow of his/her hand"


  1. Kate I am so enjoying reading about your Wwoofers! What a great way to meet wonderful people and share knowledge and friendship.

  2. Another wonderful story, thank you. Almost bought a tear to the eye... xxx

  3. What a lovely group of people you've had the pleasure of meeting and learning from while they absorbed knowledge and shared friendship with you :).

  4. It seems as though woofing benefits both sides equally.

  5. I am just so enjoying these posts, Kate. David and i have always been a bit scared of having 'strangers' working on the farm. When we started having farm stay visitors ,we found that a wonderful experience in meeting new people. Then we had the Simple Lives couple stay with us and it had such an impact on us and still talk about their visit. I do wonder when our own children are a little older whether we might venture down this path of having 'woofers', there is just something so open minded about having all these different people come to stay. We were only talking the other day about how having all these visitors through the farm stay and how it is was almost like travelling , yet you got to stay at home and the people come to you !
    I do want to know though.... did you have some tricky customers? And did you learn to place rules at Purple Pear that made things easier.
    You and Mark have inspired us once again .Isn't it lovely that when you place your trust in people that all their good qualities come through for you and you have had all these lovely times with 'strangers'.

    1. Hi Kim, yes there were some tricky customers and their stories will also be included!

  6. A great experience from both sides. Glad you could dispell the German couples' fears about deadly creatures here.
    I've really enjoyed reading your stories Kate :D)