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.)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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