200) Commemorating WWOOFers’ Work

by Gail on September 8, 2013

seeding woodshed roof

Well, the last WWOOFer has left, and we remain to finish our landscaping and garden harvest alone now. Over the last two summers, we have welcomed a total of 31 different remarkable individuals to This Green House. I can’t enthuse enough about the WWOOF (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms) program. (See other WWOOF-y posts here, here, here, here, and here.)tired wwoofers

Why did we join WWOOF? It started with what I thought was a small-ish job, clearing the lower yard of scotch broom and blackberry vines. We had already cleared it thrice with machines. I’m 60 years old, my partner a couple of years older, and although we both work very hard on the house and yard, the job of taming the .6 acre raw mess was daunting.august wwoofers

I placed a help-wanted ad in the local high school for two weeks of work, offering an hourly wage well over the minimum wage in BC. Nary a response resulted.

I had heard about WWOOF from an acquaintance, so I looked into it. To join as a host, the only requirement is that you grow organic food. You don’t have to be a commercial organic farm, or even certified as organic.rooftop garden

We grow organic veggies and fruit, are developing a xeriscape (native-planted areas that don’t require watering once they’re established), and grow medicinal and dye plants (for my art.)

Two years ago the yard looked like this:

front area dumpsite

front yard before

lower yard before

dye garden before

My philosophy about this building process is “one step at a time.” If I ever look at the big picture, the whole job, I could easily feel overwhelmed.

WWOOFers came to the rescue. They came with some skills or few skills, innate curiosity, interesting philosophies, a respect for nature, an openness to sustainable lifestyles and a sense of discovering their future. Many were motivated by saving money while travelling, learning English, and sharing their culture while learning about Canadian culture.

Some people who learn of the WWOOFing movement can hardly believe that volunteers would work for no pay (except room and board.) And indeed I feel fortunate that so many wanted to share in our lives and work. In fact, there were three times as many applicants as we could accept. But, they all expressed gratitude for what we provided, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy their time here.Kate and Emily with mulch

For our part, I hope we have provided more than just room and board. As well as a cultural exchange, there is the educational aspect of organic gardening and sustainable landscaping and building that we share with WWOOFers. Since the beginning of our building project, I have given talks and tours of our home and garden to friends, guests, passers-by, professionals, municipal staff, gardeners and social clubs, and to anyone who expresses interest. I consider it ‘paying forward.’

A slice of Gail's chef surprise version 4.8

I could not list all the jobs the WWOOFers have helped with, but they include weeding (!), carpentry, firewood  and driftwood harvesting, painting, planting seeds, harvesting fruits, veggies, ferns, moss and dye plants, stonemasonry, garden design, mulching, irrigation, moving materials all over this half-acre, occasionally dog-sitting and house-sitting, and even pouring wine at a party we hosted. They were up for almost any task, and maintained their good humour remarkably well, sometimes in trying situations.

marie plants medicinals

I have told our wonderful WWOOFers that I would be commemorating their contributions with a ceramic plaque on or near their pet project. I knew artistic Haley was scheduled to arrive in August, so I saved the tile-making job for her. She made the 24 tiles I asked for, out of some old dried up clay I had on hand.Haley making tiles

In addition, she made one for my studio and D’s workshop. Haley really got into the task, sculpting appropriate 3-D embellishments on them.wwoofer tiles drying

A friend offered to bisque-fire them in his kiln, and then, using some old glazes he and I had on hand, I glazed them before a final firing.

wwoofer tiles glazed

woofer tileCollage

I have begun to install these little memory-triggers that honour the WWOOFers’ work.tile Collage

As time passes, I may need these reminders of their names, but I will never forget the generous gifts of their time, talent and muscles that they gave during the past two summers.tile5


Thank you, WWOOFers, from the bottom of my yard!lower yard


old stump


dye garden

Sharing with:

Little Red House’s Mosaic Monday, Coastal Charm’s Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Crafty Garden Mama’s Tuesday Greens, Savvy Southern Style‘s Wow Us Wednesdays, The Backyard Farming Connection, The Thrifty Home’s Penny-Pinching Party, The Homeacre Hop (Featured!), Boogieboard Cottage’s Masterpiece Monday


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Joy September 8, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Love seeing the finished Commemorative WWOOFer tiles in place.


Eileen September 9, 2013 at 1:53 am

Wonderful post, WWOOFer’s have done a fantastic job. THe tiles are neat. Have a happy day and week ahead.


A Garden of Threads September 9, 2013 at 5:57 am

What a wonderful organization, a win win situation.


Lorrie September 9, 2013 at 8:21 am

I’ve heard of WWOOFing but never experienced it. What a great concept, and a great way to build inter-cultural relationships. And get some work done. A LOT of work. The plaque idea is a great way to remember the volunteers.


Robert Hunt September 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Great post the place has really come along and such good friendships and memories. You guys ROCK !!!


Valerie September 10, 2013 at 8:32 am

This post was fascinating. What an amazing organization of people and talents. It must have been wonderful for you to have their enthusiasm to share and I am sure they made new and lasting friendships as well. Valerie


Becky September 16, 2013 at 6:46 pm

What a fantastic program and thanks for stopping by Tuesday Greens! I hope to see you again this week!


Nancy W September 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I love hearing about WWoof, what an amazing organization. I would love to take part in such an adventure. Sounds like a win win for everyone! thanks so much for sharing on the HomeAcre Hop, hope to see you again tomorrow!
Nancy – HomeAcre Hop


Janet Armstrong October 2, 2013 at 10:21 am

Ah, Gail, what a wonderful posting celebrating your helpers! I felt teary reading the tiles!! And great to see the before and after images too which seem to coincide with my first and second visits.


Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: