Nim Kibbler is one of WWOOF UK’s volunteer directors. During September she attended the LLOOF conference in Bologna and sent us this report.
Since September 2014 a couple of us from WWOOF UK have been working on a project called LLOOF, namely myself and our fundraiser-cum-coordinator for this project, Adam Cade.
Living and Learning on Organic Farms (LLOOF for short – we love an acronym!) is an online and interactive guide which, it’s hoped, will be an extension to the hands-on learning that WWOOFers always get. The project is funded by the European Union, which seeks to improve adult education across the EU community, and we’ve been using the funding to work with nine other WWOOF national organisations*.
When you work from your dining room table and only meet with your colleagues online then it’s easy to forget that we’re dealing with practical, tangible and real-world things – namely learning about farming. So when I found myself on a farm near Bologna, Northern Italy, it placed my mind straight back in to the ‘bread and butter’ of the project.
Ezster is one of our colleagues from WWOOF Italy and she kindly offered to host the meeting and our introductory conference on her farm. Meeting in the warm sunshine, surrounded by the parched mountains and with kittens mooching about your feet it’s easy to forget that we were there to work!
This is the second of three meetings where we actually get to discuss things face to face. The first was in Turkey, October 2014, where we were able to all meet each other, learn how to work together and devise our hopes/aims for the project. We went away from Turkey to work on certain areas that helped us access the needs of our learners, the best ways to help them learn and what type of online tool will be best able to do this. This work is quite abstract in nature but we divided it up between us all and matched those with the best skills to each area.
It was such a relief to meet in Italy once again, to see the progress that we’d made and iron out a few creases created through working remotely from each other. We were able to invite delegates and members from other WWOOF national organisations and the Italian community to see where we had reached and to ask for their help in preparing it for release to others. This preparation is particularly important as we’ll be asking others to help build this online learning guide through submitting videos. But there’ll be more on this to come.
Looking ahead to year two, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Finally, it is starting to become something tangible as there’s now a workable website; this is great for those of use who are practically-minded like me. We’ll be officially launching the site in Ireland in May 2016, so keep an eye out for information about the event.
Italy is such a generous place to have a meeting about food production, consumption and land use. The Italians I met there had a love of knowing their food personally, knowing where it came from and what processes were used in its creation. It takes you to the core of what we hope to do with creating the LLOOF project; most WWOOFers want to learn how to be a sustainable consumer and a lucky/hardworking few will go on to be sustainable producers. WWOOF has always been about connecting people with their food and the land needed to produce it; in this modern age we also have to make extra online bits to meet the needs of a knowledge-thirsty audience.
*Our partners are Spain, Turkey, Serbia, Norway, Ireland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, and Italy.