I've been trying to figure out how to find quality helpers. I have a small farm in a lovely location. Not off grid or anything like that, but in a beautiful area with hiking in a national park just a 10 minute walk from the door. One of my sources of income is my small farm stay, that's how beautiful it is. Opportunities for off hours activities and recreation include photography and hiking (half hour to 45 minute walk would get a person up into the canyon and around the bend to where you are shielded from the sounds and light of civilization. I've gone up with a sleeping bag and come home in the morning on a night with a meteor shower) . This is a bicycle mecca with visitors here year round to ride mountain and road bikes.
Other opportunities include fine dining down town, wine tasting up the valley, a beautiful down town with character and shade trees and year round outdoor sculpture display. (even, gulp, golf courses)
I have goats, chickens guinea fowl, and gardens gardens gardens. I have dogs and cats, I grow organic herbs for a local shop where organic herb tea is blended. Yum. I grow and preserve most of my own food, and sell eggs and extra fruits and vegetables when I have them. And I cannot go anywhere without arranging for the care of my animal friends, and in the hot part of the year, irrigation using gravity flow.
I have had very mixed results with WWOOFERs, and no longer advertise as a wwoof host farm. In fact, though I acquired a life long friend who came as a wwoofer, and had some good experiences with others, I had so many bad ones, outrageously preposterous ones, that I deactivated my wwoof listing. And, I wrote a funny story about it for my writing class, and will likely read it on the radio this spring. I have a great sense of humor, but I really need a higher percent of volunteers who have the skills they said, have the willingness to get along, and make an honest effort to fulfill their side of the agreement.
The opportunities here are many, to learn about bread and cheese making cob, rocket stoves, animal husbandry, concurrent gardening and soil development, dairying, hugelkulture, low input farming (with swales and holistic grazing), food fermentation (just a beginner here, yogurt, kobucha and sour kraut the extent of my experience her). I have an education in biology, experience as an RN, and a life time of analytical thinking. I am an experienced teacher and love to facilitate others' learning processes....
So, it seems I might not be the only one who enjoys sharing his/ her experience and from time to time, wishes for a helper of one kind or another. A helper co-farmer who will do as agreed, talk about projects, work together. I am retired and cannot pay an intern, but offer room and board and the teaching in return for honest effort.
I'm accommodating, and flexible, have room in the house, serve organic food. I could keep a person for a whole season or a few weeks. Farming is that kind of a situation, allowing a person to do with each day what is there to be done with the resources at hand.
I wonder if anyone has a great system for finding and screening prospective helpers.
At this point, in addition to enjoying having the occasional temporary helper, I am trying to find a helper who would come in late March, spend a few days learning the systems, then do the chores and keep the dogs company while I go visit my sister in Northern California for a week.
I also need someone who would come late June learn the ongoing systems, then stay while I go take a permaculture design course in Carbondale, Colorado July 5-18 2014.
So, dear permies community, what has worked for you, and do you have any suggestions or discussion to put share?
Have you considered a professional caretaker? We use caretakers here in Hawaii. I don't know where you are located so I can't suggest how to find caretakers for your area. I believe there is a website devoted to caretakers. Of course you could run into the same problems that you had with WWOOFERS. But caretakers normally have references you can check up on.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
Even with professional caretakers, the screening process remains. The difficulty for me in the screening has to do with how open I am to so many different possibilities, how willing I am to see the best in others, how able I am to see others as they want to be seen. I don't want to disappoint others, or hurt their feelings. My innate nature is very gentle. Gentle is not weak, but it does confuse others.
I don't actually see these attributes as intrinsically negative, but they do make the screening process difficult.
I end up going on intuition, and optimism.
I learn a lot, but I would like to have a higher success rate, maybe learn a little less once in a while.
I'd be possibly interested in learning from someone with working experience in the area.
I'm moving to the area, but not sure on the date exactly. I would be more interested in the learning and experience, as I will have a place to stay. I'm not opposed to spending time away, if it is possible while I get 'established' in the new area. I'm good with animals, but thats mostly dogs/cats as I don't have much experience with farms animals. But once again, thats what I'm looking to learn more about.
Nevertheless, I'd love to know the name of a good local tea-house.
Cool to hear from a permie in the Grand Valley! Sounds like you have a great thing going. I work on a farm in Palisade at the moment but would be very interested if I had the free time. Could refer someone, and anyway, would like to network/meet!
Wwoof'ing's been good to me and the experiences were all mutually successful, but yeah each experience is different.
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
Lets do try to get together. Do you want to PM me your contact info, using funny codes like spelling out one of the digits, or come in to the shop described below?
The shop where the organic herbal teas are blended is on Main Street, just up from the chrome buffalo, and behind the gorilla play structure. That should get a person on main street Grand Junction to the right place.
The owner of the shop has formulated recipes and we sell loose tea of all descriptions. Also organic culinary and medicinal herbs and spices by the ounce. Lots of fun, lots of other wonderful stuff. Come in when you hit town! We can't serve you a cup of tea though. -- Sorry.
On the advice of others who had had bad experiences I began hosting wwoofers with a pretty long application. It screens out a lot of... less than hard working people who can't be bothered to fill it out or who didn't like my questions. I look for red flags and they really do pop out. The only terrible wwoofers I've gotten were early on when I was too excited to look carefully at the applications. The red flags were there.
I've been really happy with using google forms for this. Information gathering, sorting and storing is easy. I'd be happy to send you my application if you pm me your email.
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