John Earney with his damara lambs. (photo by Carol Stiles)
“Willing Workers on Organic Farms or World Wide Workers on Organic Farms but I say willing workers because if they ain’t willing they ain’t here.”
Organic farmer John Earney has been hosting WWOOFers on his Taranaki farm for ten years.
The travellers work a few hours a day for their board and keep.
John farms rare breeds and tries to live self-sufficiently and says he doubts if the farm would remain viable without the WWOOFer’s input.
Sometimes there are up to ten WOOFERs staying at the farm, which is half an hour’s drive from Stratford. They help with the gardening, collect and stack firewood, paint and tidy and even help killing sheep for the table if they can stomach it.
“They do everything but nothing I wouldn’t do. It’s all about them having a really good time and we get really good labour. The whole ethos of the farm is about sharing. ”
Twenty-year-old Gina from North Carolina was one of two WWOOFers staying when Country Life visited. She says she’d had nothing to do with farming until she arrived in New Zealand and has been surprised by ‘absolutely everything’.
“The thing that’s surprised me most is that nothing goes to waste and that’s really been a shock and quite wonderful,” Gina says. She’s been spending her days feeding new-born lambs, goats, donkeys horses and cows.
“I’m loving it.”