There are thousands of people willing to work on organic/permaculture farms for free or nearly free. Many farmers have explored this path and found it too frustrating and have elected to no longer do this. Here are two well-known farmers that have had a great success and this is their advice to farmers considering this path.
Doug Bullock and Jacqueline Freeman give advice to farmers thinking of bringing some interns/WWOOFers onto their farm.
I get a slice of Doug Bullock’s lunch time as he takes a break from being the guest instructor for a permaculture design course taught by Toby Hemenway. The Bullock Brothers Permaculture Homestead (http://www.permacultureportal.com) is famous for being a powerful intern magnet. Interns actually pay to go there. As a result, the Bullocks get to pick from a large pool of interns wanting to go there. And they have had excellent results with their intern program.
Doug’s advice includes:
- Establish your farm before you get interns.
- Don’t ask your interns to do just the dirty work.
- A lot of interns come from a priveledged background – be prepared for that.
- Keep the work interesting.
- Look for interns with some skills and maturity.
- If you have three or fewer interns, you shoudl include them in your family.
- A hot tob, sauna or pizza oven really helps.
Jacqueline Freeman of Friendly Haven Rise Farm (http://www.friendlyhaven.com) is famous for her beekeeping skills. She tells me that in the last five years she has had more than 90 interns/wwoofers.
Some of Jacqueline’s advice:
- Give interns the work that matches their personality.
- Praise interns when they have earned it.
- Teach interns something every day.
- Good food!
- Fun with work. A swim on a hot day is a good idea!