Tony Chalcraft is one of WWOOF UK’s volunteer directors and our recently appointed Chair. We asked him to share why WWOOF is so important to him.
I became a director of WWOOF UK in 2011 after escaping from half a lifetime working in higher education. Becoming a director enabled me to begin repaying the huge debt I owe to WWOOF. As a long term host with my partner Jane on a suburban smallholding and nearby field and woodland on the edge of York we have gained immensely from WWOOF. For twenty odd years we’ve been privileged to receive hundreds of WWOOFers from the UK and across the world. Being hosts has transformed our lives, informed our growing activities and opened up a new world of contacts and ideas.
In trying to repay WWOOF my focus is on how we can develop and build on its values and aims in a changing world, what is sometimes grandly called ‘strategy’. Having a longer term view is important but we also need to focus on the here and now and I’m also helping ensure we remain financially sustainable and, as a host myself, never lose sight of the needs of hosts. Above all I’m always conscious that the strength of WWOOF lies in its members, hosts and WWOOFers, as well as its excellent staff team.
Having worked in education and as someone who now provides training sessions on
fruit and vegetable growing to people of all ages and backgrounds, WWOOF’s educational role is something that’s important to me. Seeing some of our WWOOFers learn from what they are doing with us is one of the most rewarding aspects of the WWOOF exchange. How WWOOF can become even more of a learning organisation is something I’m especially keen to develop.