What makes a great Host
What is a Host Farm?
Through WWOOF Hawaii, organic farms or community gardens provide a sustainable agricultural space to WWOOFers who want to learn how to farm and garden. Hosts provide WWOOFers with their knowledge about organic farming, meals and a place to stay. It’s a win-win-win for everyone: WWOOFers gain practical, organic farming experience throughout their travels, while having a chance to connect with like minded individuals; YOU, the Host farm, receive additional farming and gardening help, while having the opportunity to teach what you love; and WWOOF Hawaii promotes and nurtures the worldwide organic farming movement. If you are looking for people to come work on your farm, WWOOF is not the way to do this. You should then hire employees and follow state guidelines. Your guests are not workers and should not be treated as such. They are coming because they have a desire to learn about organic farming and want to learn through first hand experience. You should take this into consideration when being a Host and make sure you are prepared to spend time passing on your knowledge about organic farming. If your guests feel your love for farming, they will take this in and be happy to be a part of your farming family.
What makes a great Host?
Before inviting a WWOOFer to your farm, it is very important to decide whether you really need the help and are prepared to have someone stay with you. Turning a WWOOFer away ahead of time is much easier for everyone involved than accepting someone during a time that is less than optimal for you. If you are unable to accept WWOOFers during a particular period of time, please respond to all interested parties. If you are ready to have WWOOFers come onboard, be sure to make your expectations clear and let them know if there is anything specific you would like them to bring.
Accommodating Your Guests
Offering a safe, comfortable and welcoming environment for WWOOFers is essential to being a great Host. As a Host, you agree to provide your WWOOFers with clean, dry housing and food, preferably organic, where possible. Please provide as much food as you can for your WWOOFers and adjust your hours required accordingly to this amount. Make sure that you let guests know what housing accommodations and food you will provide, so they know what to expect before they get to your farm.
Loving to Teach and Share Information
If you are farming organically and sustainably, are transitioning toward growing organically, or are using ecologically sound farming methods, you are a great candidate to teach your methods in your role as a Host. It is your responsibility as a Host to provide projects and tasks to WWOOFers, in which they can learn about sustainable growing methods. If you are passionate about organic farming and would like to share your knowledge about it with WWOOFers, and are willing to provide hands-on organic growing experiences, you might make a great Host.
Nurturing and Getting to Know Your WWOOFers
As a Host, it is important to acknowledge that WWOOFers are not free laborers. Instead, they are people who offer their time on farms to learn about organic farming practices, to help where it is needed and to take part in the organic farming movement.
It is also important to understand that our members enter the WWOOF Hawaii program with a myriad of farming experiences. Some people may be very knowledgeable about farming; others may have never stepped foot on a farm. In addition, all farms operate differently, so you may have an experienced WWOOFer that completes tasks differently than you would. Be patient with your WWOOFers, understand that most of them are trying their best to help.
Practicing Open Communication
Above all, successful Host farms practice open communication with their WWOOFers. Simple communication can make a huge difference in your interactions with one another. Generally, the happier your guests are, the more effort they will put forth on your farm. Remember that you set the tone on your farm. If kindness, enthusiasm, appreciation and patience is what you want to thrive around you, then you need to
demonstrate this with your actions. Learn your guests names and address them as such, thoroughly explain the techniques you are teaching them, and complement them for a job well done.
Talk to your guests about why they got involved in WWOOF Hawaii and what they hope to gain from their experiences. If you understand their backgrounds and goals, you may be able to assign your WWOOFers specific tasks tailored to their individual interests and learning objectives.
Create a warm, friendly environment in which WWOOFers can feel at home. Take the time to discuss their stay with you: ask if they are enjoying their time on your farm and encourage them to make suggestions about what could be improved. Allowing WWOOFers to contribute feedback or discuss any concerns can go a long way toward making both parties feel comfortable and respected within your farming arrangement. To practice open communication on a regular basis, we strongly recommend that you plan weekly meetings to provide a platform for constructive discussion, where everyone feels like he or she has a say.
How it works?
WWOOF Hawaii publishes an online directory that lists more than 280 organic farms and gardens (USDA certification optional) throughout Hawaii. Within the directory, each Host describes his or her farm, location, crops, lifestyle and general responsibilities. Any organic farm, community or garden project in Hawaii that would like to Host visitors can participate in the program. WWOOFers typically spend half of a day participating on the farms in exchange for educational opportunities, meals and living accommodations.
Your directory profile allows you to list specific criteria that you would like your ideal WWOOFer to meet. You must clearly communicate what kind of farming experience you require, how long you would like WWOOFers to stay, how many hours of help you will need per week and what accommodations and meals you will provide. It is most beneficial to you, the Host farm, to maintain an accurate, up-to-date profile. We encourage Hosts to frequently review their profiles, which are automatically updated within the online directory when you make any changes. For example, if at any point you are fully booked, you can communicate on your profile “Fully booked till May”. This will prevent unnecessary inquries from WWOOFers. If you happen to be in urgent need of volunteers, you can post that on your profile, which will increase your chances of filling in spaces quicker.
Through the WWOOF Hawaii platform, Hosts and volunteers pay a small, membership fee to participate in the exchange program. In order to help maintain and expand the WWOOF Hawaii network, Hosts pay a one time fee to list their farm and volunteers pay a yearly fee to have access to the Host farm directory. Upon gaining access to the directory, WWOOFers search for a compatible Host farm. When they have found a strong match, they contact a Host directly to discuss each other’s expectations. At this point it is best for a Host to look up a WWOOFers profile in order to learn more about them and to verify their WWOOF membership. You can find any member registered with us by entering their name, email address, or account number in our search bar.
Some farms will have inquiring WWOOFers fill out a questionaire in order to learn more about them and see if they are a good fit. We also recommend that you schedule a phone conversation in which you get to know each other, as well as communicate your expectations and listen to theirs. We believe that phone calls provide open, direct communication that otherwise may get lost in translation through e-mail and online chat programs. This first point-of-contact allows you to hash out an arrangement that is beneficial for both you and your prospective WWOOFer.