Monday, 25 January 2010
One of the problems with managing more than 9 Hectares of land by ourselves is that two people simply can't do all the work that's required to keep the boundaries, ditches and fields in good order. In the past we've got around this by allowing local farmers to pasture animals and take hay passing on some of the work of land management to them as our reward, but it's a dangerous practice in France. If the loan becomes established the borrower may have more rights over the land than the owner and we don't want to find ourselves invaded by squatters. So far, everyone has been most gentlemanly but it really would be better to keep full control ourselves, if only we could.
Which brings us to the need for organising additional help. We've tried offering working holidays to friends and families without much success - my brother was a star last year but mostly when people holiday they want to do as a little as possible and so don't find the thought of hacking back brambles or digging ditches terribly enticing.
Enter the Wwoofers. They're a charitable initiative matching volunteers who want to learn about natural and sustainable organic techniques with farmers and small holders who can offer experience of that nature. No payment exchanges hands, volunteers live as family and receive board and lodging for their efforts.
I've known about them for sometime but I'm a bit hesitant about it. The fragmented nature of the individual country organisations makes our particular cross channel straddle difficult to place and, if I'm honest, I'm a bit doubtful about my ability to direct and organise worthwhile projects for the volunteers.
Has anyone tried this, either as a worker or host? I'd love to hear about your experiences and any advice you could offer.