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26 year old South-African Need advice  RSS feed

 
Riccardo Ricky
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Hey there everybody,

First of all id like to introduce myself, im a 26 year old Male South-African living in the crazy city of Johannesburg, my parents were born here but all my grandparents are from Italian descent, last year i attended a Permaculture introductory course which really opened up my mind to what permaculture is about, since then i have been educating myself through reading,videos & practicing guilds in my urban backyard. In the beginning of the year i set out to go wwoofing around the Western-Cape in South-Africa, i organised to volunteer with the same person that hosted the introductory course, i took trust in the person & never actually did my research comparing how wwoofing is around the world. I arrived at the farm with little impression & felt i was being used. 8 hours a day of tedious work in return for a small wooden room with 1"inch wooden walls with cardboard as insulation, only food provided was a bit of oats & rice. Now i dont expect 5 star accomodation with mountains of food thrown at me but i atleast expected something a little decent in return for the hard work i was expecting to give. I had left the farm & wrote back to the owner that it wasnt up to my expectations & im sorry for any inconveniences i may have caused, i received a nasty message back from him stating that im immature & i dont live in the real world.

As i left the farm with no backup plan i tried mailing as many of the hosts on the wwoof list as possible, i received messages back, some people were too busy at the time, alot of others were offering work quite unrelated to permaculture & others just simply didnt reply after i asked a few questions regarding the accomodation & type of work expected, so i set myself back home which was a 1400km from the Western-Cape.

So here i am back at home, studying but frustrated that i cant get any more practical work experience, feeling that most farms here but not all are just looking for cheap labour. I have been heavily demotivated with the whole situation over here & i have been considering wwoofing abroad in another country. I do have a European passport so i have no problems getting into Europe, although at the moment i am pretty lost with my path.

Any advice will be really appreciated. Thank you !

 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
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I cannot give advice on where to go from here; I can only give suggestions and ideas to you.

You're human and have a mind: only you know what path to take for yourself. The key is finding out what that is. There was an article in the newspaper a while back about the biggest challenge for people growing up in the USA is and how it is an unspoken challenge that many people simply may not be aware of. Struggling to find out who you are and where you want to fit into the world and how you will find or make a place for yourself in the world is one of the biggest challenges people age 18-30 face in the USA, according to the author of that article.

I kind of agree with the author on that one because that's kind of the dilemma:
-Get raised by parents -Grow Up (somewhat) -Get some credentials and a work history -Find a job and keep it -You're Free! -Now what

I'm currently beginning the "get some credentials and a work history" part of my journey, and to help make my journey more fulfilling, I did a lot of soul searching while filling out applications for college last year and probably had at least one or two existential crises. But now, I think I have an idea of what I want to do with my life and how I am going to get there. Of course I can't have every step planned, which is why it is staying as mostly guidelines and not a strict plan to follow.

Riccardo Ricky wrote: feeling that most farms here but not all are just looking for cheap labor


Yeah.... Lots of places are looking for cheap labor..... You kind of just have to set a standard for yourself and try 100 things and see what works out.

If you're interested, Charley McDowell, made posts on permies recently about looking for a caretaker and tiny home parking in Northern California. He is a veteran builder and is willing to help people build a tiny home if they do not have one to park on his land. I think this is a great opportunity and may be just what you were looking for! Charley McDowell is looking for people to take care of his land for him, and if they do a nice job, he is willing to let the person(s) be permanent caretakers.

Craig Dobbylyu is another permies user, and he is looking for help on 7 acres in Maine.

There are many more opportunities to be found in the WWOOF/organic farm volunteers/ opportunities subforum at permies.com. On permies, you can also check out the travel ideas thread to see if any of the suggestions I've listed there are useful to you.

I'm currently beginning my journey, so I'm in a similar boat as you. Please feel free to purple mooseage me or talk more on the forums.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Many of South Africa's farmers grew up in a situation where the laborers were near slaves. Your country has millions of people who are unemployed or underemployed. Sharecropping with a split that barely pays the workers and other usery practices are common in places where income disparity is huge. I suspect that this is a cultural thing that you will not easily overcome.

 Try your luck in Europe or in North America.
 
Matu Collins
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Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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A proper wwoof host would not treat helpers this way!

I am a wwoof-usa farm and I accept only a tiny fraction of the wwoofers that send inquiries. The economics of farm help is hard to balance in everyone's favor.

Don't give up! practical experience is out there, I agree with the above advice to travel farther.
 
Riccardo Ricky
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Thank you for the reply Dave, i appreciate the suggestions & im surprised that you on a similar kind of journey.

As i mentioned being lost with my path, i meant it in a way that im lost in what my next steps are going to be, i really want to live a life where i can be self reliant considering food, water, energy, etc. Over the years i have been on and off with Jobs,been called every name under the sun for not working, researching in between to try and find out what it is i want to do seeing as school didnt teach me anything considering this.

While researching i found out alot about what is truly going on today & i decided that i want to live a life which doesnt contribute to the mess that is currently going on.

Attending the Permaculture introductory course last year was the best thing i felt that i had done because of what it had taught me, my plans after that were to volunteer then get a PDC then acquire some land.

Since the course i struggled to get the picture through to my parents about what i was planning to do, eventually they "kind of" understood that i would eventually need some land to carry on further & my father had said he would help me get some land once i had volunteered.

Unfortunately the volunteering didnt go as expected, i came back home & suggested that i just go straight into a PDC and get some land to start small with.

I had spoken to quite a few people around the country about where the best place would be to start up & unfortunately my father didnt want to know anything about this, he suggested one place which was quite close to home and that was it. I couldnt have a proper conversation about it cause as always he is too busy.

After all that i mentioned volunteering overseas because of how i felt used with hosts around this country and i was immediately told that im talking crap about the hosts around here.

So after being at home for another 5 months after i tried volunteering now all of a sudden i am told that Permaculture is an excuse and i should go get a job.

Even though i would love to try 100 things, i feel i cant, i feel like i had been given one chance & thats it.

On the other hand i could probably manage to convince them to go work overseas but i feel if i do then there's not really any use of me coming back, also largely due to fact of how this country is turning out to be.

Ill definitely take a look at the links you posted, they look really interesting and like you said it might just be what im looking for.

I apologize if the whole story came out too long but i tried summarizing it as much as possible, once again thank you again for your suggestions Dave.

 
Riccardo Ricky
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Thank you Dale, im definitely considering trying out one of the two or even both if possible !
 
Riccardo Ricky
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Matu Collins wrote:A proper wwoof host would not treat helpers this way!

I am a wwoof-usa farm and I accept only a tiny fraction of the wwoofers that send inquiries. The economics of farm help is hard to balance in everyone's favor.

Don't give up! practical experience is out there, I agree with the above advice to travel farther.


Agreed Matu, i cant see how they expect hard work in return for very little. From what ive read about other peoples experiences in Europe & North America, this isnt on.
Im aware that its hard to balance work in everybody's favour but atleast they can be fair & reward people for what they are doing like everybody is suppose to according to the wwoof host guidelines worldwide.
Seems like traveling is the best option i have. Thank You
 
Olga Booker
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Location: Pyrenees Mountains, South of France
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Hi Riccardo,

Sorry to hear about your experience. I agree with Matu that no WWOOF host should behave like this, unfortunately there is often a rotten apple in the basket. You should not let one bad experience stop you. You could travel. Portugal has quite a few permaculture projects. France has the largest amount of English speaking WWOOFing hosts in Europe and of course the US, Australia and NZ are awash with opportunities. The UK where WWOOF started in 1971 has many possibilities (if you can cope with the rain!). There is also sites like Helpx which basically work in similar ways to WWOOF and that I, personally, prefer because there is a feedback system from both helpers and hosts -you can therefore pick and choose.

We have been hosting for 5 years now and we have come across many young people like you who want to learn and find out what they want to do and where. It is true that no one can tell you what to do but you are young and there are so many open doors, push a few wide open and see what's there. Do your own research, check out intentional communities, Eco villages, Transition Towns movement, go WWOOFing again, go for a PDC, even take a camel across the Kalahari desert if you wish - whatever! You might find what you are looking for. After all, a thousand miles journey start with one step. Life is so exciting! It is true that so many things are bad and wrong, but equally there are so many things that are good and right.

The title of your post says that you need advice but whatever we say can only confirm or negate what you already know if only you listen to your heart.

Whatever you do, I wish you good luck.
Olga
 
Riccardo Ricky
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Thank you for your advice Olga, ive been taking a look at Helpx and ive also been looking into joining a intentional community in some places, busy doing as much research as i possibly can, it is the only way and your 100% right & i must say i love what you mentioned "It is true that so many things are bad and wrong, but equally there are so many things that are good and right." i couldnt agree more with you.

Hope you had a great day & all the best.
 
Jason Bijl
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Location: Kamloops, BC - Zone 6
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When your father offers you some land close to home, deeply consider it, If you are that lucky in life. I say that because having the support and encouragement of your own community can propel your efforts to new heights, and possibly build new bonds within your neighborhood. If you have a longing for a good host farmer, but no one there, step up and strive to fill the need yourself. I remember what it was like to have a burning passion to understand cultivation techniques, and like Jon Snow, I knew nothing... it takes years to teach ourselves, but it's how the masters do it. Work your way there, step by step. Learn by striving to grow for others.
 
Brian Karlsen
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Location: pietermaritzburg, South Africa
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Hi there fellow south African here I am also in this boat but already have a career and am looking for land.

Id say take whatever land you can get the great thing about permaculture is you should be able to make land in any climate /region productive and being near home,friends and family can be a huge help in terms of help on the land and having a customer base to start marketing to.
Maybe you could consider approaching friends or family to permi landscape there gardens offer to do a few for free and then if you do well start charging for the service this would tick the box of "get a job" and also show your dad you are serious about the whole thing another option is aproching friends and family to farm there back yards in exchange for a portion of the produce have heard of a lot of ppl in the US and Canada earning full time income of of this sort of system.
 
Well behaved women rarely make history - Eleanor Roosevelt. tiny ad:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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