Many hands, and feet, of all sizes….

Aug 1, 2023

by Cassandra Lishman


I first experienced the embodiment of ‘many hands make light work’ at Tinker’s Bubble, around 23
years ago. We were exploring community, and organised to stay there for a couple of nights. We
helped plant some fruit trees, but not much else. We had our 4 year old special needs son in tow,
which made giving our help a lot more difficult.
However I’d like to think we helped just a little bit, and for our part we got a real taste of what off
grid, low impact living was all about.
We were still based in London at that time. Over the next ten years, we moved around a fair bit in
between London and Wales, spending time in different places. One very pivotal experience was at
Dyfed Permaculture Farm, where we stayed with Ted for 6 months, living in a tiny yurt. It was our
first long term WWOOFing experience, and we learned about mulching, about the terrifying vigour
of brambles, as well as the pleasure of living in a small community in Wales.

Potato harvest at Bryn a Môr Farm


We finally moved to Wales permanently in 2006, where within days we came across Simon &
Jasmine, who told us about Lammas. Little did we know then that we were destined to be
neighbours. Skip ahead 3 years, and in August 2009 we finally got planning for the Lammas
Ecovillage.
Here we started hosting rather than volunteering. Quite a few of our volunteers at Lammas came
through our ‘fame’ as a pioneering project, so actually we weren’t registered with WWOOF until
around 2015. We did find that volunteers that came through Lammas were mostly interested in
following our lead, and living low impact, whereas people from WWOOF were often more
‘mainstream’, wanting to dip their toes in a different lifestyle, but not necessarily wanting to do it
themselves.
We had very positive experiences all round, and hosted approximately 300 volunteers in the 12
years we lived there.

A very young volunteer, contemplating the beauty of bracken 


We moved from Lammas in August 2021 (interestingly at that Lammas time of year again!) having
been incredibly lucky to find our current home, an off grid farm by the sea.
Here we are building our lives again from scratch, this time turning an old chicken farm with a half
built concrete bungalow, into what we envisage will be diverse permaculture paradise.
Within months of moving here, I registered our new home with WWOOF, and we accepted our first
volunteers in April 2022.
We have found that we now get a lot of WWOOF requests from people with children. I think this is
partially our location, as we are walking distance to the sea. But I do think it’s also because
children spark a need to explore your lifestyle options, seeking a better way to live, so you can
raise them to be the best people they can be.
So we have started accepting most of these requests, and more often than not, the kids are just
as engaged in the work as the adults.

 A massive trailer load of ragwort pulled from horse paddocks 


We are currently hosting a couple with 3 kids ranging from 3-12; a woman with a 10 year old, and
a University student. We share lunches, and they cook together in the evenings. We have pulled
ragwort, tidied our barn, dug foundations for our first building here, scythed bracken, made
compost, put together a duck run, and more. The children have helped with almost all of these
jobs, and have learned a fair amount too.


I believe WWOOFing is a really brilliant experience for both volunteers and hosts. As hosts, we
share our knowledge, our homes, and our food; in return we meet interesting people from all over
the world, and truly reap the rewards of working with ‘many hands’, no matter what size.

Collection of boots [lunchtime]


About us:
Here in our home by the sea, when not hosting volunteers, we run basketry courses and camps,
rent our space as an event and retreat venue, offer glamping through Pitch Up, we train horses,
grow willow and food, plant lots of trees, and raise livestock.


You can find out more about us here:

Bryn a Môr: www.brynamor.co.uk

Cassandra Lishman: www.cassandralishman.net

Lammas Ecovillage: http://www.lammas.org.uk/

Facebook: Bryn a Môr Farm

Facebook: Pembrokeshire Willow – Helyg Sir Benfro

A big thank you to Cassandra for writing this article and for the gorgeous photos.

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