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Short stay WWOOFer expecting extra tuition and learning opportunities




I have experienced a WWOOFer who, after changing dates back and forth a few days before arriving, during her stay pressured me to compensate for the fact that her stay was only going to be one week instead of two. She wanted to learn this and that, and wanted me to devote time in explaining all the things that she wouldn't get to experience because she was only staying one week.

This WWOOFer cost me an extra 3½ hours due to her plans being changed at the last minute, because I had to walk into town to get Internet access to sort out new dates and try to find a replacement. When I explained this the WWOOFer retorted that I could easily fix someone else with a simple text message from my phone. I also tried to explain to her that there are other consequences of halving her stay, like fewer opportunities to learn. She said that she could learn what she wanted by watching others doing work, or I could explain.

She didn't seem to understand that she isn't working when she is watching a task she will not be doing, and that if I explain tasks to her that she will not be doing, not only is SHE not working, but she is preventing ME from working too.

It is good that WWOOFers want to learn. I like to share my knowledge with inquisitive WWOOFers, but not at the expense of lost working time.

My main reason for posting this is to ask if other hosts have experienced WWOOFers who put their own needs first and are oblivious of how this affects the host. How do you cope with a demanding WWOOFer who wants more than she can possibly experience in one week. I didn't know how to explain this clearly without causing a negative reaction, so I was just very evasive. But being evasive feels very unsatisfactory. I would have preferred to have been clear and direct. But I do not want to be forced into the role of some kind of parent figure "No, Johnny, you can't have another chocolate biscuit". Nor do I accept an obligation provide more tutoring to this WWOOFer than I would give others.

How do other hosts cope with this kind of situation?

If hadn't needed help so badly, I would have refused her when she changed her plans at very short notice. The reasons for this change were a clear signal that this WWOOFer would put her needs before those of the farm.

Thoughts and advice greatly appreciated from other hosts.



We had a chap here a while ago who was very negative about wwoof hosts in general as he said he'd done nothing but chop fire wood and other 'boring' tasks at several farms. When I quizzed him further he revealed that he'd been at each farm for only a day or so. When I tried to explain that most wwoof hosts don't have time to explain complex tasks to someone who will not be there to practice what they've learnt he really couldn't grasp it.

We go out of our way to do extra sessions with volunteers who are interested (it takes me three times as long to make cheese with the 'help' of a volunteer for instance and my partner regularly spends a session explaining the technology behind a RAM pump) but these are things that we can only do once all the essentials are covered. If we don't have time to weed the potatoes, and the crop is poor as a result, then we don't eat potatoes next year. That's how simple it is. The vast majority of volunteers understand and go out of their way to help make this project a success, but the occasional one makes me shake my head in despair.

I've been hosting for long enough now to recognise that not every volunteer will be a good match for every farm, just as every farm won't be ideal for every volunteer. We can only do our best and try to communicate our expectations in advance.

Expired user

I haven't had exactly this problem with any wwoofer, but I tend to do the same as you, and avoid conflict, thinking that this person is only here for another week/2 weeks etc! But the problem is really one of information. Maybe we should be careful to specify that some things are dependent on time and energy available, and that the farmwork comes first. For example, milking is a skill that takes a long time to acquire. It is also too important to delegate to a beginner. I don't need help with milking. If anyone wants to try to milk, that is outside their normal working hours, and depends on me and the cows feeling up to it!
Generally, I say no to anyone wanting to stay less than 2 weeks, because it takes a few days before they find their way around. Also it takes a lot of energy to get to know new and constantly changing people.



I think communication is very important, to inform possible woofers what they expect and what we request. Certainly it is always a big challenge if somebody cancels or changes the plans shortly before arriving. So I figure, short stays = simple work - longterm stay = more complexe work