Newsletter - February 27, 2012

Hi all!

We hope the fun of the festive season is still echoing in your home.  All the very best for a memorable 2012! Thanks for your support and commitment over the years. We know from our contacts that thousands of wwoofers have travelled New Zealand in that time, and many wonderful experiences have been shared. We are looking forward to helping create more.

We’re back with lots of ideas and projects to work on. In this issue of Composte we will be concentrating on the results of the recent online survey. Again thanks to everyone who took the time to fill it in!  Below just a brief summary of the results, for more details please follow this link.

Survey Results

There was division between respondents on the importance of WWOOF remaining principally organic.The comments indicated that there was widespread support for hosts to be committed to sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, but fewer felt WWOOF needed to confine itself to organic farming only. There was quite a debate on how to define “organic” and if WWOOF needed to be confined to farming activities. Hosts also said most wwoofers were more interested in cultural exchange, with few with any experience of organics or specific interest in it.
Two in every three respondents (65.9%) indicate that they have other sustainable projects, other than organic farming that they would like help with.

Most hosts felt that the cultural exchange programme should have good environmental and social standards (though like the discussion on organics there were many questions on how you would define social standards).  There was a mixture of ideas on additional ways to assess host suitability. Some hosts also expressed the desire to have some sort of rating on wwoofers.

The survey confirmed what we have been hearing in feedback over the last couple of years. So, in the next few months we will make some improvements to take account of some of the suggestions. There will be benefits for hosts and volunteers alike.

What happens next?

WWOOF has grown and developed over the years and now includes many properties that are not completely organic, but still operate under the desire to be sustainable. These hosts have valuable experiences and a lot of knowledge to share, and our volunteers appreciate the variety they offer.  However at the moment fully organic and sustainable/not fully organic properties are listed together and this can sometimes lead to confusion.  In order to manage expectations we have created a Cultural Exchange category for our hosts that don’t fit exactly within the WWOOF specifications.

This category helps in matching skill sets better. Both lists are important, just different.

In our experience many volunteers are happy to work on a farm without being too worried about their organic status, but there are some volunteers looking specifically for organic farms and organic teaching. The benefit of separating hosts is that volunteers will know exactly what to expect. Wwoofing is about working on an organic farm and learning about organic and biodynamic farming and gardening. Our Cultural Exchange hosts will be offering other experiences e.g. help in conservation, building projects, animal care or sustainable tourism.

These different preferences will be catered for with the changes we are making to the search option on the website.  Volunteers can search specifically for WWOOF or CE hosts.

We are currently in the process of working out which categories hosts will be best suited for. Please log into your profile and check on host status as this may have changed. If you don’t agree with the category you are placed in, please write to us explaining your reasons and we will be happy to review it.Andrew, Jane and Katrin

Frequently asked questions

When is the change going to happen?

We are currently in the process of working out which categories hosts will be best suited for and are looking for your input. We expect the whole process to be finished by the end of March.
Do hosts have to do anything before the change?
Hosts are asked to log into their profile and check the category they are placed in. Confirmation is not required however, if you have any queries or would like to change your category please write to us.
So what can Host expect after the change?
Both categories are presented on the website, however, there is the added option to search by category. Volunteers will have a clear idea of what you are offering.
Will this mean hosts only get half the wwoofers?
No, all host listings are fully available on the website and in the book. Categorizing hosts simply helps managing expectations.
How will the Wwoofers know about the different categories?
This will be clearly explained on the website home page and in the book.
Will there be any changes to fees?
What if I feel I should be in both categories?
Organics is a subjective measurement. Our goal is to clarify expectations for volunteers so we would ask hosts when considering their categories how a volunteer would describe them.
How will the host listings be sorted in the book?
All hosts will be sorted by area and categorized appropriately.
What are the benefits for wwoofers?
By categorizing hosts volunteers are made aware of the wider variety of experiences available.