Katie Hastings, RHC for South Wales at the time, organised a regional gathering in South Wales on Sunday 22nd November. Since then Katie (who is also a director of WWOOF UK so has plenty to do) has handed over South Wales to David Sears. Welcome David and we hope you enjoy being an RHC. Katie told us about the day.
I have wanted to visit Lammas Eco Village in South Wales for years, so when it was suggested as the venue for our South Wales regional host gathering I was delighted. I arrived early to the earth and timber ‘community hub’ building to find the fire alight and autumn sunlight streaming through the huge windows. It was the perfect meeting place for the 15 hosts and WWOOFers who came, clutching their homemade dishes for our shared lunch.
We started by talking about the positives and not-so-positives of being a WWOOF host. The challenge of responding to high WWOOFer requests was discussed, along with disappointment felt on the rare occasion when WWOOFers don’t show up when agreed. There was deliberation about how to best work with WWOOFers of varying ability, with optimism about the new online learning platform LLOOF which will allow WWOOFers to bolster their skills through tutorials and videos.
The positives of being a host rung strong in the comments and smiles from the room; the social interaction and sharing of cultures were restated as an immeasurable pleasure. As was the knowledge that we can change people’s lives through teaching them about low-impact living. It was suggested that having WWOOFers in groups can boost their morale and make it easier to tackle large tasks and that it’s a good idea to vary the tasks on offer to WWOOFers and allow them to choose what interests them. There were even stories of love found through WWOOFing.
We touched on the idea of local WWOOFing, which is closer to the way WWOOFing worked back when it was first set up by Sue Coppard as a way for city dwellers to get a ‘weekend away’ on their local farm. We acknowledged that reducing the miles WWOOFers travel would be very beneficial for the planet. Local WWOOFing could even give hosts the chance to work for one another, strengthening local networks.
Our shared lunch was a locally produced feast, eaten at the long wooden table with handmade ceramic bowls.
We were truly inspired by looking around Tao’s smallholding at Lammas, and marvelled at the cosy barn he and his family live in. Their six acres are split into curved zones, with vegetable garden, cow pasture, orchard, willow firewood succession and polytunnel. It’s such a shame that Lammas are no longer WWOOF hosts, but it was inspiring to hear how WWOOFers have helped them in the past and enabled them to reach the stage where they can now recruit volunteers through their eco village status.
Thanks to all attending the gathering and welcome to the new RHC for South Wales, David Sears.
There were also regional gatherings for the North East in October and the Midlands in November. Click on the links to see the full reports and remember that details of forthcoming gatherings will be posted to our forum as they are arranged.