Member feature – Kristin, volunteer

Mar 12, 2023

“WWOOFing is the experience of a lifetime. If you are currently WWOOFing, keep doing it! If you are considering WWOOFing, don’t hesitate! Do it!”

Our member community is full of so many unique individuals, united by a shared devotion to sustainable growing and living. This member spotlight features Kristin, a Canadian science teacher who has been a WWOOFer on and off over the last 8 years. Read on to hear about some of her varied experiences WWOOFing in Scotland, England & Wales…

Interested in being featured in a member spotlight as a WWOOF UK host and/or volunteer? Drop us an email with your story.

Do you love excessive amounts of weeding and always smelling like a barnyard? Do you hate being stuck inside? Do you love grouchy farmers? How about meeting new people, learning new skills, experiencing other cultures and lifestyles, and having life-changing experiences? Then WWOOFing is the opportunity for you!

My WWOOF journey began in 2015. After graduating from a degree in Psychology with a learning focus,  and a degree in Biology with an environmental focus, I was looking for adventure, a new learning experience, and a different way to travel and see the world more authentically.

Cue WWOOFing!

After spending a lovely few weeks on a small farm in Ireland, I arrived in Scotland, ready to take on all the accents, the potatoes, the sheep and the bagpipes in the world. I spent a delightful time at a farm in Kinghorn, working with Richard on the farm and Adam in his jewellery business. The Scots are kind, welcoming, caring, and lots of fun in a grouchy-and-growly sort of way; I felt at home from the moment I arrived. Diana’s kindness made me feel like family, and I learned countless skills from her that I will use for the rest of my life – baking bread by hand, collecting elderflowers to make elderflower cordial, caring for chickens, and of course the correct pronunciation of the word “loch”!

A very dairy sunset near Kinghorn while WWOOFing in Scotland

Heading north to the Isle of Lewis, I learned the ways of the sheep world just outside of Stornoway, herding sheep, commanding sheepdogs, rescuing abandoned lambs, and inevitably chasing the sneaky blighters across the mountains when they escaped through one of many holes in the fence! I was fortunate enough to be there for shearing, a skill which I’m not sure I’ll use much in the future but which I absolutely delighted in learning! Finlay was a great support, even though I was undeniably terrible at it!

Trying my hand at sheep shearing on the Isle of Lewis!

Moving down south to jolly old England, I took up residence in the tiny attic craft room / guest room of a beautiful little farm and tea garden nestled in the Shropshire hills just outside of Clun. This idyllic setting is one that will always hold a very special place in my heart, and to which I long to return – there is nothing quite like the Shropshire hills just before harvest season. Sue and Mike were kind and welcoming hosts, and my time with them was wonderful. Here I learned most of my now-widely-used baking skills, how to make jams and preserves, how to card wool, and a little more sheep care, which would serve me well in the future. The artistry of their world is something that I aspire to – the gardens, the house, the meals, the handcrafts – every aspect of their lives was steeped in love, care, beauty and creativity.

My favourite view from my Shropshire host – through the lavender and out over Clun

For the final stop of my first WWOOF UK adventure, I headed due west to Llanidloes, Wales. This amazing farm is a historical wonder – Fran and Kevin are devoted to restoring the ancient property to its original state, reestablishing heritage breeds, and educating about sustainability and historical production methods. Here I learned unique skills like how to build wattle and daub structures, making cheese and butter, and had the opportunity to reuse my sheep care skills during the huge amount of hoof trimming that needed to be done!

Making ricotta cheese in the historic kitchen at my host farm in Wales

Fast forward many years later, I have added an Education degree to my roster and spend my days educating teenagers about biology, chemistry, and environment & sustainability at an international high school in Stockholm, Sweden. There is a pandemic, I’m teaching online, stuck indoors, and feeling lonely and burned out. 

Cue WWOOFing round two!

In September 2022 I packed up my life in Sweden and headed off for three months at an equestrian farm in Kirriemuir. Ally and Jan are kind and welcoming; upon arrival I slipped into their normal life – chaos, hilarity, swearing, rain, mud, community, and so, so much fun. Perhaps there was too much weeding, but it was broken up with interesting jobs like fencing (not the cool, sword kind), building glasshouses, caning trees, building and demolishing walls, painting, helping with riding lessons, mucking out horses, and more! The area is just south of the Cairngorms, so hiking and walking are frequent and stunning experiences. 

Climbing my first Munro – Mayar in the Cairngorm Mountains!

Which brings us to here, now: March 2023, a farm in Gargunnock. This family-run commercial sheep and beef farm is by far the largest operation in which I’ve been involved. Fergus, Alison and Struan run an impressive ship. I’ve only been here for ten days and I have learned so much and had so many new experiences. Herding sheep, administering vaccinations, bottle feeding baby animals, collecting and sorting eggs with some very cool and fun technology, and I’m even getting better at driving a manual car – now I only stall it some of the time! Fergus and Alison are so passionate about what they do, and so obviously keen to educate others, but the best part about being here is their kindness and welcome, taking you into their family and their lives.

A Highland cow and her adorable calf having breakfast at my current host farm

WWOOFing is the experience of a lifetime. The skills you learn, the places you see, the things you experience, and most importantly – the people who come into your life, whether short or long term. If you are currently WWOOFing, keep doing it! If you are considering WWOOFing don’t hesitate! Do it!

Written by Kristin, all photo credits to Kristin.

Interested in being featured in a member spotlight as a WWOOF UK host and / or volunteer? Drop us an email with your story.

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