I am new to WWOOF Portugal and I am already very disappointed with some farms conditions. Actually sometimes, the descriptions show a profound lack of respect for people volunteering. Before I continue, let me tell you that I am aware some volunteers can be troublesome, ackward and picky. But this post is about good volunteers and hardworkers being offered insufficient conditions.
There are many farms on this website asking more than six hours of work per day, 6 days a week. Sometimes it's written in a straithforward manner, others in a very subttle way: ..."the working day can go up to 12h a day"..."we respect if you don't but many woofers are glad to do it!"... This can be interpreted in many differnt ways, but I can see it as a subtle way of saying, if you don't correspond to certain standards, we will respect you, but won't take you seriously. There are other farms asking for 8h a day and I could go on.
Some farms offer 3 meals a day, one of them a very light meal, but cooked "with love". Well, when I eat after a hard work's morning or afternoon I usually eat to fill my body and consequently my mind also. It is not the "love" that fills my body as a whole. I am glad that you put your heart in making meals and everything else you do, as well as I put heart in the work I do in your farms, but I need food so I can continue doing it. Some people eat more than me, some less. But food is Essencial and it's the Least you can provide to volunteers for their work. And a volunteer should never feel constraints regarding the food. There are some farms that don't even give you food! But they sell some of their delicious organic products,...I should be thankfull for that!
I am sorry, but I as a volunteer do not work for "love" only, whatever than means for each one of us or how we choose to demonstrate it. Be it Volunteering or paid work, we all strive for resources. It can be money, food or knowledge. In the case of volunteer work, we are not being paid and we are giving time of our lives to your projects, so you don't have to work so much for your own resources and so you have more time to other activities you really Love. Good food and shelter is the least you can do to provide us with what we deserve for working gladly for you. Some hosts talk of "Love" without even having a Conscious thought about what is the most basic human/animal/plant/bacteria/funghi condition inherent to our existences: Resources.
I woulD also like to add that is important that we have free time to our own activities. Some of us also have personal projects: music, drawing, studying, whatever. It is good to work as a collective but we also have our individualities and we have skills we wish to cultivate.
My 1st volunteering experience was very good. The conditions were minimal, but the food was plenty. The host was a very practical, conscious person. He didn't talk much but he had great sense of humor and was a very conscious human being. He respected us trully!
Finally I would like to ask all hosts to write good descriptions of your farm, with working time, meals, accomodation(with photos), electricity,etc. It would save host and volunteer a good amount of time. You should also answer all emails, even if your answer is no. Don't assume all volunteers are shooting emails in every direction and won't reply to you after applying. We pay a yearly fee for a reason, and we should be spared of calling you just to hear a negative response.
There is a very thin line between volunteer work and slavery work in some cases, from what the discriptions suggest. If you're a host and you were offended by this post, then this post is for you. If you are a conscious respectfull host then I look forward working in your farm!