Posted by: Joan Spiller | December 19, 2013

WWOOFING – New Zealand

WWOOF stands for “willing workers on organic farms” & I was well used to meeting a variety of people from around the world as my parents took wwoofers in waaaay back when it was done via snail mail, telegrams or phone calls!

It irks me that I didn’t think to get onto this sooner.

I have a friend to thank for the reminder (and I feel very grateful indeed!) You see, a couple of weekends ago she came to visit and we planned to create my orchard and do a few chores.

She’s one of those odd types who likes to do gardening (!??!) the weather conspired against us however, so we drank too much wine, ate too much food and didn’t do any gardening. Was a perfect weekend, if you ask me!

However before she left, she said “why don’t you get a wwoofer?” as I was lamenting the fact that I am not physically strong enough to dig holes nor do I have the skills to do construction tasks etc.

And so it is that I now find myself having a quick break for coffee having set out a wee breakfast buffet style, for 2 young men. One from Germany, the other from France.

Both have been here a few days now and will be here til just before Xmas when a) I will have darn near run out of tasks for them and b) they’re off to meet friends and explore other parts of NZ.

They’ve been a god-send and it’s been tiring but fun..

One of the things that I do not want to do here is have a fully functional “farm” thing happening. By that I mean I want it to have pockets of pretty or non-functional things, of whimsy, if you like. Places where I can stand or sit and just enjoy whatever it may be .. for example this:

Sunflowers Dec 2013

8 sunflowers nestled against the fence where the hens are being reared. This was taken earlier this morning as I walked to feed the hens. I grew these from seeds, using old egg cartons and a little soil .. then transplanted them into pots a month or so ago and they were planted out by the lovely Quentin (who is most tolerant of me saying his name the anglo saxon – and very wrong – way, mercifully) and Benjamin.

Now each day as I walk to feed the hens, I will get a wee kick out of the plants as they grow and then will eventually feed the seeds to the hens and consider what to plant there next..

In the righthand corner of that picture you can see a tomato plant. I have not had the money, time or capability to create a proper garden, as yet.. for all it is on the to do list. However, what we did yesterday was plant out a heap of tomato plants that I grew from seeds some months ago.

And instead of a fancy garden? They’re staked up by the verandas and as each hole was dug, we used the existing soil to fill undulations and pot holes in the lawn and put new compost in each hole as we planted the tomato. Job, well done!

It does feel very organic having the boys craft stakes out of branches we cut from the trees around the property (I didn’t have any canes, but these will do for now!)

Another job they’ve done for me which I am just loving, is weeding around the decks of the house. It was rather cute watching the goats stand on their hind legs waiting (and hollering rudely!) for the weeds to be thrown over the fence. And the result is just awesome, even tho it’s only half done .. we’ll finish it off today.

Other jobs on today’s list include tidying up the hen enclosure / rearranging how it’s set out. Getting some video footage of the goats playing. (Oh hush it’s a job!) 😉

Then I am going to get them to move a pile of posts (too heavy for me to do, definitely a boy job!) and – most importantly: We’re going to plant the orchard out.

Last night my neighbour came over and mowed the “orchard paddock” with his tractor mower. The other day Benjamin dug out all the giant thistles and now we can get in there, dig holes, add compost and plant out my lemons, bay, apple and pear trees .. I have many other trees in mind to plant, but have yet to source them.

While they’re digging holes and finishing weeding, I will mow the lawns and of course, in between times – cook delicious meals to keep them going!

To anyone considering having a wwoofer, I would say go for it – it’s awesome if a tad exhausting.. By that I mean you’re up before them in the morning to do your usual chores and meal prep. You still have to run your home, pay bills, tend to animals, shop for groceries, do laundry and so on.

And as well, you have to work alongside them (well, I think that’s fair anyway – altho yesterday while we dug thistles out of the lawn with steak knives I was less convinced .. heheh) and then your day doesn’t end til late in the evening, as you have to make a nice meal then tidy up, while they shower and recover from their labours.

One of the things I am really enjoying is having people around to cook for but also learning about their countries, their culture (as well as sharing ours with them) I’m peppering them with questions every day and it’s lots of fun.. Hopefully for them as well as me!

Right, it’s almost breakfast time. I better get myself a slice of toast and get ready for some orchard planting – WOOHOO!



  1. […] may recall that I joined a wwoofer site last year. (And how lucky I’ve been!) From the vunderbar Benjamin, to the insouciant […]


  2. […] don’t know what wwoofers are used to being asked to do but am fairly sure none could be fully prepared for me & my […]


  3. Wish I had been a WWoofer for a spell as a young single man. I would have loved to seen the world working as a handyman from place to place.before settling down at a steady job and raising a family


    • You would make an awesome wwoofer James, I’d have you here permanently if I could 🙂


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