Have you ever heard of the WWOOF (world wide opportunities on organic farms) program? I've probably mentioned that I was a wwoofer several years ago, and have now proudly hosted my own wwoofers at Lilliputopia! Here is a description from their website:
WWOOF is a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange, thereby helping to build a sustainable, global community.
Essentially, this awesome program links farms (hosts) to individuals (volunteers) all over the world. As the primary goal is education, volunteers come to learn about the specific environment and farm practices unique to each place. However, the exchange of knowledge and experience is often mutual, because each volunteer brings his unique experience and energy.
This exchange usually involves at least 20 hours of labor a week for food and living arrangements. This does not mean cheap manual labor; hosts actively engage each of their helpers and work together to achieve goals. In Lilliputopia, we explain the why of our practices and always seek input for improvements. We also like to go on field trips to other local farms, homesteads, and community building events that are fun learning experiences.
From 2015-2017 I was a wwoofer and traveled to various small farms and homesteads across the states. The farms I've worked at were located in North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Washington, and Oregon. At each place I visited, I met people who I still remain in touch with, and who I still consider a part of my broader family. I learned about so many different things, not only how to grow plants, but also how to preserve food, care for all sorts of animals, use tools and tractors, and interact as a community. My eventual goal was to gain enough experience to start my own farm, which eventually manifested as Lilliputopia! I owe a lot to my wwoof host families!
Now I host my own wwoofers and have a profile on the WWOOFusa website. We've had a couple of wwoofers this year, and plan to host more in the future. Our first woofers, Larry and Celinda, already returned once, and will be coming a third time this fall; we love them so much! They are amazing and knowledgeable people in their 70's (possibly the oldest woofers ever), but haven't slowed down one bit. Larry has helped with so many mechanical and electrical problems, whereas Celinda helps me with caring for the plants. We also had a younger woofer, Sawyer, come for several days. He helped build our deer fence, weed the filbert trees, and turn the compost pile. Sam stayed with us for a week and helped with harvest and our barn renovation. We are so lucky to have these friendly helpers find their way to us and look forward to many more!
If you are interested in volunteering at the farm, please send me a message and tell me more about yourself and your interests!