Every year we (WWOOF UK trustees and staff) gather at Redfield Community – one-time home of WWOOF UK – for a weekend in early March, to reconnect after the winter months and to think about the coming year. It’s nearing financial year end so we usually consider money, and we try and set a plan for 12 months ahead. This year the Weather Gods looked at our plans, laughed, and sent in a beast from the east.
On Tuesday we were getting twitchy, come Wednesday travel plans were looking interesting. By Thursday things were decidedly tricky so we had a virtual huddle and put in a call to Redfield. Oh dear, all the pipes have frozen so you can’t use the sinks and the heating isn’t warming the place properly…but it’s your call… We decided to cancel which was of course the right thing to do as, by Friday, several of the team were snowed in.
What to do, given that we had a bulging agenda? Rescheduling was a diary nightmare so the only option was online. And amazingly, internet connections held out and with some good self discipline, we were able to complete critical items in a just-about-OK way.
Importantly we officially welcomed a new Trustee – Emma Robinson – experienced WWOOFer and also a marketing expert. Happy days! We were also joined by potential Trustee Alice Law who, despite being 20 years old, is an experienced WWOOFer and host. Quite a coup! We’re feeling rather pleased with ourselves about Alice and are very much hoping it works out.
WWOOF UK co-ordinator Scarlett Penn, stranded in Shropshire
There were some bits of good news to be updated on, like the bursary we’re now able to offer to some 16 and 17 year-olds. Also we heard about the progress of the Common Web Platform (CWP), which will begin the long-overdue process of WWOOF around the world working towards a unified recognisable identity. However the hottest topic of conversation was inevitably the dive in WWOOFer numbers seen over the last few months, especially visitors from the continent. So…are we a victim of Brexit? European colleagues reckon there’s confusion over there; is Britain in Europe now or not? Can we travel there? Will we be welcomed there…?
It’s not even as though there’s an easy way to get the word out that it’s business as usual. Yes we can (and have) put something on the website, but you have to go to the website to see it in the first place. Continental WWOOF colleagues could be asked to help, but what would they say and where would they say it? And they are busy trying to promote their own countries in any case. Logically our best bet would be concentrating on attracting domestic WWOOFers i.e. from the UK. It makes a lot of sense too, because volunteers are then learning about growing methods and conditions in their own climate, and making valuable contacts along the way. So, this is doubtless where a focus will be in 2018, but if you have any other bright ideas – as ever – do let us know!
You can leave a comment below, if you’re signed in to your account, or contact us using firstname.lastname@example.org
photo 1: host Polly Bolton – her daughter gives us scale!
photo 2: Scarlett Penn