A few years ago we cleared an area around the front of our property. It was unsightly mess created by many Manitoba Maples entwined by grapevine. Then we had to figure out what to do with the land. We figured that it would be a great place for a garden but we had two big issues. First, there really is too much land for just the two of us to grow vegetables and secondly, we are always way too busy at the time of year the garden needs attention.
We approached some of our neighbours in Eden Mills to find if they’d be interested in putting in their own garden on our land – a community garden of sorts. We could share the weeding/watering/tending while each other went away on our respective vacations, and even the crops when it was time to harvest. Issue #1 solved.
Then we thought, why not get some help. World-Wide Organization of Organic Farms (WWOOF) is an organization that matches organic farms with (usually young) travellers who will trade their brawn in exchange for a bed and food. Our daughter was a WWOOFer in New Zealand and vouched for the experience as a traveller that didn’t have much money to travel.
Despite not being a farm, we still qualified to be a host. It’s a bit like an online dating service where we post a profile of our general expectations, an idea of who we are, our accommodations and location, and they tell us where they are from and their experience etc… Either we send a note to them if they look like they could do the work, or they send their profile to us asking to stay. Obviously both parties agree.
Last year, our WOOFers from Germany, Australia and Norway help us clear the land of shoulder height weeds, and establish some garden beds. This year our WOOFers (a couple from the Netherlands) helped us clean up the mess Mother Nature left from the ice storm last year. We lost close to 50 cedar trees and it would have taken me all summer to do it myself. With the help of our WWOOFers it took about two weeks. Issue #2 resolved.
It’s clearly a win-win. The program helps young people travel abroad cheaply and the benefits of hosting WWOOFers are obvious. The benefits we didn’t really count on was the great company, conversation and close relationships we established with each of them.