Glastonbury Calling

Jun 20, 2023

For many of us the county of Somerset is synonymous with Summer and the Glastonbury Festival. It just so happens that we have a large cluster of hosts around the ancient town of Glastonbury and here is one host’s story.

I actually knew about WWOOF from when it was first set up by Sue Coppard when she was living in Chippenham. We were both active in the Ecology Party at the time and I remember when she and a friend were telling me about their plans. I guess that was in the late 1970s.

When I set up the EarthSpirit centre, getting some WWOOFers was a no brainer; and they’ve been fantastic ever since, helping grow and prepare the food we serve guests at our retreat centre.

We bought a ruined farm (listed 2*) in the 80s and gradually began the work of renovating the old buildings. But then groups started to arrive, some were friends from my days organising the Green Gatherings or the Greenfields at Glastonbury Festival, others were people we’d got to know in Glastonbury town. It was a case of ‘Dave’s got a place, lets do our thing there’, and workshops began. We had the Dream Weavers of North America, Guboo Ted Thomas, an Australian Aboriginal elder, story-tellers from the north and a group of Buddhist monks. And the groups just carried on arriving. We were turning into a retreat centre without ever having taken a conscious decision to do so, and so we began creating facilities for everyone. 

The centre lies within the temenos (sacred enclosure) of Glastonbury and attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors every year, attending various healing and self-improvement courses. 

Glastonbury is, of course, well known for this. Our particular orientation is towards ecology and sustainability, and the centre won gold under the Green Tourism Award scheme in recognition of this.

We have always strived to grow some of our food ourselves and to support wildlife and country crafts, and the centre continues to grow. 

Our relationship with WWOOF is as strong as ever and we are delighted to host volunteers on an ongoing basis. They stay for anything between a week and 3 months. They get the same delicious food as the guests and have their own fully equipped staff room to relax in. All we ask for in return is 25 hours work per week.

Long may WWOOF continue. It does such wonderful work. 

Article by David Taylor, founder of EarthSpirit.

Photos with permission by recent photography volunteer staying at EarthSpirit

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