The South Scotland regional gathering was held at Karuna Bhavan in Lesmahagow on the 24th of April. Our new RHC for the area Matthew Moodie organised the event and sent us this report.
The gathering was attended by Didi, previous host, future host, Jenny, host, Nicola and Ryan, prospective WWOOFers, Brian, Karuna Bhavan’s head gardener, Steve, gathering organiser and Karuna Bhavan resident, Lyndsey and Salvatore, hosts, Kevin, RHC for Central Scotland, Nim, WWOOF UK director, Paloma, WWOOFer, Laura and Matt, hosts.
We started with an informal chat over flapjacks and a bucket of tea, before taking a tour of the gardens and greenhouses, which were bursting with vegetables and flowers. Steve explained about all the renewable systems they have in place to get the best out of their covered growing areas, including a biomass boiler that heats the greenhouse through a pipe in the floor and an air-source heat pump. They manage to grow cut flowers for eleven months of the year and supply the community kitchen with fresh veg all year round. The final part of the tour took us through an old orchard that Steve is renovating and past the wildlife area, complete with dead hedges built by WWOOFers.
Lunch was curry with the works: dhal, rice, chapattis, puris, pakora, chutney, popadoms, you name it. Thanks to all the community members who helped to make it a great visit.
After lunch was an open forum in which Nim encouraged us to discuss any WWOOF-related topics near to our hearts. WWOOFers enjoy meeting other WWOOFers so connecting them was discussed. Ideas included: a broadcast by the RHC to see if any hosts had WWOOFers who wanted to meet other WWOOFers during time off; group outings with hosts and WWOOFers to less-explored sights with a picnic; sharing WWOOFers formally and informally.
We discussed what to do when a WWOOFer is disgruntled with another host. This information is often hard to collate and is reported second hand to WWOOF in an ad hoc manner. Hosts can feed this into their RHC who can build up comprehensive information and send it on to WWOOF HQ, who in turn will have information from all over the country.
Finally we talked WWOOFers and agreed that we had all had friendly, useful WWOOFers and were turning away quite a few as well. We shared ways to help enhance the experience for hosts and WWOOFers, such as encouraging comments on our host profile, taking photos of every WWOOFer (and sharing these via a social media feed), and using a physical guestbook.
photos: Matthew Moodie (apologies for getting your surname wrong in the print issue Matthew!)