4 minute read

Farmers need WWOOFers || Lynette Vint

Now more than ever..

40 years ago, the dream of WWOOF Australia was born. Founder Lionel Pollard is one of those special individuals who never leaves your mind after that first interaction. We visited the now 84-year-old Lionel at his home in South East Victoria, and he was as sharp as ever. It was an honour and a privilege and a day I will keep in my heart forever.

The beginning: Lionel’s interests started in alternative rural communities and alternative power sources. Still living in Boronia Victoria at this time of his life, Lionel’s dream was to own land and live a sustainable lifestyle with his wife Valerie and family.

He had many subscriptions to various groups and societies across Australia, from Organic gardening communities, alternative communities, spiritual communities, and he had at that time a yearly subscription to the Tasmania Organic Farming Society. In late 1980 Lionel read a story about an English girl who had already WWOOFed back home in England. She was extremely disappointed to learn on a visit to Australia that there was no WWOOFing organisation here, and Lionel could not let that go. He called the Editor and told them yes, there now was one, and hence on that day WWOOF Australia was born.

Lionel began going through the contacts he had collated over the years from his many subscriptions, and reached out to those like-minded people across Australia and the WWOOF Community began to grow (note this was prior to the technical world we now know, and was all done with phone calls and letter writing)

Dreams are important. I started this story because now, 40 years on, WWOOF Australia is stronger than ever. We have been through the 2015 government changes which stopped international travelers who joined WWOOF from having their 88 Day Visa signed off, and this had a huge impact on the business. The homes of the WWOOF Team and the WWOOF office itself went through the devasting bush fires of 2019/20, and now we are all living in the COVID-19 world, for better or worse.

How have we survived?

Resilience is the answer, along with a passion for keeping the dream alive! This passion and loyalty to WWOOF also shines through in our wonderful Hosts, some of whom have been members since the early days of WWOOF.

Thankfully, we are receiving calls daily from individuals of all age groups and walks of life that have had time to contemplate their life’s journey and, let’s face it, we have all had time to stop and think during this time of isolation. Sadly, some have lost their jobs. All have had time to reflect on what they want to do for the rest of their life.

For the first time in my lifetime food shortages have been witnessed on our store shelves, and this has been a real wake up call for many. Families and singles who live in the city and outer suburbs that we regularly speak to would love to grow their own food, but often they do not know how to begin.

WWOOFing created space for us to feel a deeper connection to the land and brought us holistic awareness to the food we consume.

What is WWOOFing?

Travelling on a budget around Australia, volunteering for 4-6 hours per day while living, and especially learning, on organic Host properties, with both your food and accommodation provided.

We have hosts from many different urban and rural farming industries ready to teach you new skills, of which these hosts have a passion and expertise. You can live with the families and experience first-hand what it takes and what is required for their farm. We have cattle, alpaca, pig, chicken and sheep farmers, herb specialists, vegetable growers, essential oil producers, pearl farms, vineyards, orchardists, and the list goes on, if you can imagine it, we most likely have a host who grows it!

WWOOFing offers a way to experience our unique community cohesion. Numerous hosts have been with us for many years, some from that beginning 39 years ago, offering the interconnectedness that many are searching for during these times of uncertainty.

What is a WWOOF host?

A WWOOF Host is one that is ready to teach others their skills, and who work alongside WWOOFers who are there to learn and can assist you in finishing those tasks that you thought would never get done. They show WWOOFers the local sights, enjoy companionship, and foster cultural exchange. Hosts can be commercial or hobby farms, urban or rural.

WWOOF hosts must:

|| Grow or produce organic products, but not necessarily be ‘Certified Organic’.

|| Provide experiences to WWOOFers in sustainable land care: organic, bio-dynamic or permaculture techniques.

|| Provide all food and clean comfortable accommodation to WWOOFers in exchange for 4 to 6 hours maximum of volunteering daily (Maximum 38 hours in 7 days).

|| Be an ‘Ambassador for Australia’ and provide a safe haven for WWOOFers.

|| Treat WWOOFers with respect and consideration.

Hungry for more ||

If you would like any further information about being a WWOOF Farm Host or a WWOOFer volunteer, please feel free to email Lynette at wwoof@wwoof.com.au or call 0455-023-173