The Wonderful World of Woofers


Last August, I wrote about our joining the Wwoofing Network (Willing Work on Organic Farms).  The Wwoofing Network is a great scheme whereby organic farms and properties can connect with travelers looking to experience authentic New Zealand life styles.  The catch?  The wwoofer host provides accommodation and food in exchange for four hours of work per day by the wwoofer.  It’s a great way for property block owners and farmers to get free labour, to meet interesting people, and to share their knowledge and expertise; and it’s a great way for travelers to travel cheaply, pick up some new skills, and meet quirky-yet-hopefully-interesting lifestyle block owners/farmers making a go on the land.   It’s a win-win situation for all!

Due to my travel schedule and the work we had started doing with Pete (our builder), we only had one or two woofers throughout the whole of Spring, but things kicked into gear in February and it’s been non-stop ever since.   I receive a couple of email requests per week, some for folks who want to come right away, some for folks wanting to reserve a space a few months in advance.  We’re slowly learning how to ‘read’ people’s profiles to see if they’d be a good fit with us and we’re learning lots about managing people and how to strike a good balance between having a house full of people versus a house of just us two to relax {the latter which has been far and few between these past four months!}.

We’ve been truly fortunate to have a great crew of people come through.  We’ve generally tended to schedule them for a minimum of one weeks time and often to coincide for when Pete is here.   “If we’re having one person on site, we may as well have three,” has been our motto.   And more often than not, we’ve been a household of six to eight people for ten days at a time.   Somewhat exhausting, often exhilarating, never boring, and always fun, we have gotten so much great work done.

Here’s a glimpse of what we’ve done.

February:  Erin and Vanessa from Chicago.
Vanessa and Erin came during the height of summer.  The weather was gorgeous and they were keen to have a go at anything.    Vanessa is a trained horticulturist and so it was great having her help with some tree pruning.  During their weeks’ stay we made a few batches of jam, they shelled piles of last years’ walnuts, and they transplanted over 100 seedlings and potted up over 50 cuttings of rosemary and sage (all of which are doing quite well).


March:   Mike and Mike from New Jersey AND Brian from Arizona.
I was in a household of six men in March as wwoofers Mike, Mike, and Brian were here along with Pete and Purple during Phase 1 of the Heating Installation Project.  Oh my.  We did a LOT of eating and Bruce and I were in the kitchen all the time prepping and cooking.  These guys liked to do physical labor like digging and most of our digging projects got done.  Brian dug a few swales in the upper orchard for our new fruit trees and the three of them dug a trench around our budding bamboo grove and they dug a few fencepost holes.  Mike and Mike also did a bunch of weed wacking and mowing for me.   Thank you gentlemen!


April:    Linnea from Colorado;  Anne-Sophie from France, and Kat from the U.K.
I now found myself in a household of five women as along with Linnea, Anne-Sophie, Kat, and myself, my neighbor’s sixteen year old daughter spent four days with us too.  It was a go-go-go week with some serious jam-making of four different varieties made (and a jam-off to taste test them);  seed sowing of a dozen or so styrofoam trays of veggies;  a trip down the hill to the ‘free’ apple tree where we collected about four sacks full of apples which then were processed (apple jelly, apple butter, and apple chutney), and the rest wrapped and stored (and still doing well);  arts-and-crafts day to mend our Green Fairy black light lanterns; and lots and lots of yummy cooking.   Anne-Sophie graced us with authentic quiche Lorraine and lemon meringue pies and Linnea led the crew on a culinary Nepalese feast for royalty.  And she made delicious fruit pies.  Linnea was also a seamstress-extraordinaire and so she got the task of hand-mending our greenhouse cover and for fun she made a pattern of some really cool pants we all liked.   The weather during their stay was also amazingly beautiful and so I made sure we got out to do some hiking and touring around Akaroa.   Thank you ladies!



May:     Stephanie from San Francisco and  Krista from Toronto.
Stephanie and Krista came independently and got along well together and with the crew as they joined me, Bruce, Pete, Kat, and Ollie during Phase 2 of the Heating Installation project.  Oi, what a busy ten days that was.  During their stay they helped dig out, weed, and create a few new garden beds; did a bit of seedling transplanting; helped de-nail a bunch of wood from the demolition; helped carry very large steel beams into the house; and, do what we do best, cook and eat!   We also had time for lots of fun and squeezed in a few trips down to the beach to explore some new areas and have a few yuks attempting to build a human pyramid.

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We really have enjoyed all our wwoofers and hope to stay in touch with many of them. They have helped us get on top of our game and have saved us from endless hours of grueling work alone.    I am grateful for their hard work and enthusiasm and for helping us maintain our little piece of paradise.

Thanks team!