Meike Laurenson is a one of our long term hosts and was disheartened to receive feedback from a WWOOFer who thought she hadn’t been asked to work long enough days, so Meike decided to tell us why…
‘Why do you have WWOOFers? This was the question put by Sara from Italy who came to stay with us recently. I was taken aback. My immediate response was that most of the time in the garden is spent on maintenance. Any help is appreciated in that respect. I have been a WWOOF host since 1982, inspired by The Good Life TV programme, we moved from London to try and live self-sufficiently with our organic smallholding.
Next morning I woke up with what I should have said. We enjoy the company of WWOOFers, like to spend time getting to know them, discuss all the problems of the world around the dinner table, test their cooking skills, hear about their families, plans for the future and support their English language practice since most of our WWOOFers come from outside the UK.
It’s great to get them to harvest our produce: damsons, plums, runner beans, courgettes, blackberries and next door’s Bramley apples in August, apart from all sorts of herbs to use every day. We meet at 9 a.m. five mornings a week which means that I have to plan the day in advance, aiming not to spend too long on each task. We usually fit in another hour or so before our evening meal which gives them time to go for a walk, read or sleep through sheer exhaustion due to physical work which most of them are not used to.
We are older than them, potentially their grandparents. Our experience is wider; we know a different world and some of them want to know our stories, giving them a new viewpoint. The exchange is worthwhile for both parties and can be challenging.
On her website Meike quotes Voltaire, ‘Cultivating one’s garden is less about saving money or burying one’s head in the sand, but about dealing in the things that really matter.’
photo: from Meike’s website meikelaurenson.co.uk