Scarlett Penn – Chief Executive
I’ve been looking after WWOOF in the UK since 2007, and I have also been a Director of the global Federation of WWOOF Organisations (FoWO) since it was founded in 2013. For a long time I lived and grew food with other people in intentional communities, and have co-hosted many volunteers along the way. Through doing that, and realising there are lots of people out there willing to help and learn, I found the confidence and courage to take on my own smallholding near Ludlow in stunning south Shropshire. Very unusually for a vegetable grower I love rabbits, and have numerous Giants and Giant cross breeds. I adore them for being fluffy and funny but it’s also super handy that they’re great composting machines; rabbit droppings are the best cold manure! When I have spare time I enjoy group singing and playing tin whistle with folk / ceilidh band ‘Join The Dots’.
Taryn Field – Host contact, Membership, IT
I have been a WWOOF host for 12 years, but now live the urban life in Milton Keynes. I came into the role of Host Contact after working 8 years for Lowimpact.org, an amazing non-profit organisation. I am dedicated to WWOOF’s ethos and principles and love working for this inspiring organisation. My favourite land based tasks are weeding and eating berries. In my spare time I play the fiercely cool sport of Roller Derby where I think I look mean, but really just fall over a lot.
Mike Hammer – Social Media Liaison
I have a background in art & design and after finishing my degree in graphic design in Coventry headed straight for the countryside! That summer spent picking strawberries, apples and pears in the Kent sunshine had a big impact on me and I decided to travel further afield, hitchhiking my way across southern Europe to eventually end up harvesting olives and grapes in Greece.
I discovered WWOOF much later in life however and realised just what I’d missed out on! It wasn’t long before I was working for WWOOF UK through living at Redfield intentional community and being a host. My experiences of being a WWOOFer in the UK and the Republic of Ireland have taught me that there is a network of incredible people who are willing to share their lives with you. All you have to do is turn up, give your time, your energy and the rewards are enormous; there’s a lot of learning on so many levels. As Mahatma Gandhi put it “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Social media gives me the opportunity to express my creativity and to promote the organisation that I believe is so important and valuable to everyone.
Justine Hall – Finance and HR
I look after the finances for WWOOF UK, and deal with admin and HR tasks. A rewarding challenge! I also work in finance for healthcare innovation, and look forward to the day WWOOFing and contact with nature get prescribed for good health and illness prevention! I’ve often researched where to go WWOOFing but have never yet made it – instead I lived overseas teaching English for a few years. Now I am back in the UK, I can enjoy ballroom dancing and samba drumming in my free time.
Alice Law – Marketing and Promotions Lead
WWOOF has been an important part of my life for more than a decade. I grew up in a WWOOF host family and have been a WWOOFer since I was 17. I strongly believe in the power of planting a seed of change in people that will help our planet to function far more sustainably. We cannot wait. I love teaching and introducing people to more environmentally friendly and ethical ways of living and being. I feel that WWOOF is a wonderful way of connecting with people and learning from each other.
In my non-WWOOF time I am working out how to be a self-employed Artist, and generally getting my wellies properly muddy outside somewhere!
Sue Coppard – Founder of WWOOF
I came up with WWOOF in 1971 when I was a London secretary dying for an outlet to the countryside. To my amazement the project took off. I loved WWOOFing, and ran WWOOF for a year and a half before going on a year’s overseas backpack, leaving WWOOF in the hands of a newly-formed team of four – an excellent next step. On my return I re-joined the organisers, carrying out different jobs. I finally felt ready to leave London and moved to a small house with a garden – WWOOFers proved invaluable. I can thoroughly recommend life in a small historical country town – and such a choice of activities too! I joined the local Green Party, and became our Town Clerk for a few years; but eventually changed from clerking to music making, and now play the accordion at a wide range of events. I have a lot to thank WWOOF for; it enhanced my life immensely and helped create new paths through life. To read an extended interview with Sue go to bestculturaldestinations.com/visionaries1/sue-coppard-wwoof
Tony Chalcraft – Trustee
I became a trustee of WWOOF UK in 2011 after escaping from half a lifetime working in higher education. Becoming a trustee enabled me to begin repaying the huge debt I owe to WWOOF. As a long term host with my partner Jane on a suburban smallholding and nearby field and woodland on the edge of York we have gained immensely from WWOOF. For twenty odd years we’ve been privileged to receive hundreds of WWOOFers from the UK and across the world. Being hosts has transformed our lives, informed our growing activities and opened up a new world of contacts and ideas.
In trying to repay WWOOF my focus is on how we can develop and build on its values and aims in a changing world, what is sometimes grandly called ‘strategy’. Having a longer term view is important but we also need to focus on the here and now and I’m also helping ensure we remain financially sustainable and, as a host myself, never lose sight of the needs of hosts. Above all I’m always conscious that the strength of WWOOF lies in its members, hosts and WWOOFers, as well as its excellent staff team.
Having worked in education and as someone who now provides training sessions on fruit and vegetable growing to people of all ages and backgrounds, WWOOF’s educational role is also something that’s important to me. Seeing some of our WWOOFers learn from what they are doing with us is one of the most rewarding aspects of the WWOOF exchange. How WWOOF can become even more of a learning organisation is something I’m especially keen to develop.
Matthew Pumphrey – Trustee
I was appointed a Trustee in February 2019 – I applied as a result of having become a WWOOF host and having enjoyed and benefited so much from the WWOOFers that we have had. We acquired a relatively small farm on unpromising land in South West Scotland in 1989 and started a longhorn herd in partnership with a retired Yorkshire farmer who had moved to the area and wanted to keep his hand in. This developed and later on we added sheep, free range hens, as well as ponies and cats – we try and attain organic standards at all times. We believe that the WWOOFers that we have had have enjoyed the experience of WWOOFing with us as much as we have enjoyed having them, and certainly one WWOOFer enjoyed her time sufficiently to want to come to this area to set up a smallholding.
My own background is legal, having worked initially in Edinburgh and then SW Scotland as a solicitor. I retired completely in March 2018. I still clerk one of the local District Fishing Boards and am involved with our local amateur dramatic group and even got the part of “Dame” in a recent pantomime production. As the newest trustee I realize how much there is still to learn about WWOOF but to date the role has been very rewarding and I am looking forward to playing my part as Trustee to the full.
David Beaton – Trustee
I have had a varied career embracing engineering, technical publications, education and theatre. Following retirement in 2009 my wife (Rosemary) and I purchased six and a half acres of woodland and water meadow in Staffordshire, which we manage primarily for conservation. We also grow vegetables organically for household consumption and, in an effort to live sustainably, have installed a variety of ‘green’ technologies in our home. We have been hosting WWOOFers since 2013. I am WWOOF UK’s safeguarding lead and lend my opinion when a second opinion is needed regarding complaints.
Andrea Chandler – Trustee
After a year of lurking I became a WWOOF Trustee in 2022. My first experiences with WWOOFing were in the late nineties where I tried out a few long weekends. I enjoyed it enough to leave my job as a librarian and spend a year WWOOFing in the UK, Ireland and Spain. I have a great affection for goats so I spent a lot of that year clambering, making cheese and failing to keep the kids out of trouble. Although I began WWOOFing as an adult in my 30s, the experience taught me and changed me in a powerful way. And I met some wonderful humans too! I have remained a member ever since. I have a long-standing interest in ethical food, having worked for a specialist cheese shop, and a well-known organic delivery service. I believe that food justice, starting locally, is the necessary foundation for a better world.
I’m back in the library now. I have just completed my tenure on the volunteer board of Wikimedia UK. When the WWOOF team sent out a call for new trustees it felt like a perfect step into giving back to the organisation. I want city people to have a route into the possibilities that WWOOF can offer. To be brought into other people’s worlds, to experience nature, and our position in it first hand is a rare opportunity for many. I would also like to encourage young people from farming backgrounds to see how they might learn new practices and be a part of the organic community. Beyond that, I am a proficient sea swimmer, but despite my best efforts I’m not very good at roller skating or playing the trombone.
Ruth Bergan – Trustee
Some of my best memories are of WWOOFing on farms in the UK, Portugal and France so it was great to have the opportunity of becoming a trustee in 2021. I think climate change and uncertain food supply mean that Wwoof’s role of helping more people spend time learning about growing and conservation will be increasingly important. I am the Director of a small not for profit organisation so I bring over a decade of experience of the challenges and benefits of working with limited resources in the third sector. My weekends are spent either at capoeira classes, mainly watching other people do very cool moves, or at our local community garden, which is a beautiful space for growing, sharing and building community.
If you have any specific skills, some brilliant ideas or want to help, you are really welcome. Just send us an email.