Juggling work and WWOOFing

May 18, 2019

My name is Becky. I’m in my twenties. I’m a programmer based in Cambridge,  working for CMR Surgical. My company is building a robot to assist surgeons with keyhole surgery.

Because I spend a lot of time in front of a computer I wanted to spend time doing something completely different. WWOOFing seemed like a great way to get outside, and an accessible way to try out farming and outdoor work.

pleased with the pumpkins!

The other things I do to balance out my screen time are juggling, cycling and unicycling. I’m also a Scout leader. With Scouts we go camping, teach them first aid and cooking, craft activities, and so on. I wanted to do volunteering so I looked on a website and chose scouting because it was outdoorsy and I think it’s a good thing to teach children these skills and to teach them to respect nature.

I’ve just taken a week’s annual leave from my job to have my second WWOOF exchange here in the West Midlands / Welsh borders. The reason I chose this host was because they had a lot of good feedback, they had ticked the isolated / rural box, they had more land than just a garden and also it intrigued me that they were an ex-van dweller.

rewiring a plug under instruction

My first WWOOFing experience was in Scotland. I learned a bit about hedge-laying but I didn’t get to do much of it because it snowed every day – in April! Instead I joined my off-grid host in his passion for listening to his 50s-70s music collection on a record player. This time I’ve done a lot more outside and picked up (rather than dug – it’s a no-dig system) potatoes, planted trees, created a wildlife pond, harvested squash, planted out winter greens, and linseed-oiled some shelving on rainy days. I had told my host before my visit that I was very interested in wildlife and biodiversity, so she geared my tasks around that.

If you’re interested in WWOOFing but haven’t got round to organising anything yet, start by going for just a week or even just a weekend. Also remember that it’s probably easier to organise your first WWOOF experience in the UK, before you start planning WWOOFing abroad.

photos: Scarlett Penn

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