WWOOF Greece Newsletter No1 [April 2012]
WWOOF is an exchange. A cultural exchange, a solidarity exchange, a learning exchange.
WWOOF is about hosting and getting hosted, and help the host’s activities.
Founded in 2010, WWOOF Greece launched its website in spring 2011. From that time we had about 500 WWOOFers and 50 WWOOF Host. We spent a lot of time communicating, advising, get advised, thinking, visiting, planning and get positive and constructive inputs from many sides: from WWOOF Independent organisations, from the other national WWOOF organisations, from WWOOF Host and from WWOOFers.
You will find in this Newsletter, a mix of those feedbacks and we consider this Newsletter as a channel of communication, a tool for exchanging and learning from each other. We are continuously learning, we hope that by reading those lines, you will learn something more ;-) .
- WWOOF Greece Team -
1- From Berlin to Grado 2011: 6 weeks across Europe with bikes and a tent
[ Gisela 43 y.o from germany and Philippe, 41 y.o. from France, both living in Berlin, before their WWOOFing in Greece, made a 6 weeks travel by bike from Berlin (Germany) to Grado (Italy). They tell us their journey in the lines below. ]
As we left Berlin along the ex-wall bicycle path everybody was predicting us an awful weather as it happens more than usually in the region. This year however was probably the sunniest autumn recorded since long! Lucky us and perfect conditions for a trip exclusively meant by bike and wild camping, following the numerous path dedicated to 2-wheelers lovers.
We weren’t quite sure about the way but Greece was the goal. For once we thought about following the great Danube before turning – somewhere – south. Before that we had an exquisite time crossing Germany, its gentle climate, landscape, cities and people, all pretty relaxed in the off-season period. Camping
took place in a stress-free mode: waiting for the end of the day, generally at the outskirts of a village, on a public and open space. We were not hiding rather telling the people: hey, we are spending the night here and tomorrow we are gone. There were smiles on faces, support too. No bad feelings. After all, simply passing by can’t be harmful they thought. We made an effort to leave places cleaner as well.
Life is simple but exciting on a bike: routine takes over, 50 km/day average, cafes on terrace or in the wild, (simple) cooking at sunset, bathing with a pot and cold water. Once a bonfire too and plenty of beautiful landscapes. Sometimes noisy though Cars and civilization were not that far either.
And here, we went on 1000+ German kms. Bavaria itself has over 8000 km of bike roads. Guess that’s an indicator for developed countries…In Passau (*south Bavaria) we decided to go south via Salzburg (*Austria) along the Alpe Adria Radweg. Soon enough the cold weather will catch us! Enchanting Austria as well, full with open spaces and people. Didn’t believe it till we experienced it! Stunning mountain views, idyllic and well managed human-size towns, great camping spots.
The first mountain pass we crossed by train (sorry, no snow-tyre), the second one lead us to the Italian border for a wild downhill ride, 30 cold full speed kilometres at sunset on what previously was… a train railroad! Today a perfect highway for bicycle. For us only!
The last hundreds kms were a bit more chaotic, without much tracks but a good road book. Sweet villages and people from Friuli-Venezia . Bicycles nomads are welcome anywhere! Reached Grado on the Mediterranee, 1650 km of great fun and one eternal question: what’s next?
- Philippe & Gisela -
P.S.: We thought that a bit of handwork would do good to us. Legs needed some rest. Bicycle path, as far as we know, ain’t no more. So we rode to Venice and jumped on the ferry to Patras, Greece in order to wwoof there! But that’s another story.
P.S.2: For photos and text (French) please visit our blog.
=> Route that Philippe and Gisela followed: Berlin, Magdeburg, Halle, Weimar, Ilmenau, Bamberg, Nürnberg, Regensburg, Passau, Autriche: Salzburg, Villach, Italie: Udine, Grado, Venise, Patras.<=
2- WWOOFing in Attica, Greece, November 2011
[ We meet again Gisela and Philippe, after their bike trip. They are now WWOOFing near in Greece, near Athens. ]
As we entered the home of the host family in a small of Attica region (GR 012) we knew we were at the right place. Despite the late hours a warm meal and friendly people awaited us. For both parties it was a lucky encounter: the same morning only we received their invitation as we were lost somewhere in Peloponnese and they were desperately looking for some wwoofers in order to help collecting the olives in the coming days. A small but cosy apartment was at our disposal guarantying some kind of independence and freedom for everybody. The main meal of the day however was to be taken in common, around the delicious dishes of Maria and our occasional support regarding cooking and cleaning.
In the mind of the owner Dimitris WWOOFing is a mean of exchange and this is what it was. We went olive picking for some long hours along with 2 kind “professional” Albanians (by the way measuring the gap between theirs and our urban bodies, wwoofers are not meant to replace workers anyway). And we could witness the processing of oil and at the end receive a fresh bottle of the precious juice. Another great experience was to learn and perform the distillation process of old wine into tsipouro (Greek strong distilled spirit) ! After a short while and a lot of trust we were enticed with the responsibility of its manufacturing!!
Within the place we also got well along with the young charming daughters and Ilias, the winery employee, who happened to travel to…Germany during our stay. Lots to talk about! And one Saturday evening was spent in Athens, enjoying the city through the knowledgeable eyes of our hosts.
Overall we spent 3 and half weeks within the family, learning new things everyday (and that feeling of being “useful”), enjoying vivid talks at the dining table with a good bottle of wine and realizing how wwoofing is a great experience regardless of the age of the participants (we are in our 40s). In these days of crisis, such form of cultural exchange has a great future!
- Philippe & Gisela -
[More information at: http://duvoyageeneurope.blogspot.com/ ]
3 – A letter from Tania, WWOOF Host in the north of Greece
Ένα γράμμα από την Τάνια, WWOOF Host στην βόρεια Ελλάδα
“Dear friends, I send you some photos of the summer 2011, when Jane and Kevin were with us. They were of a great help for us. Their main task was to take care of the vegetable garden and of the wood house that you can find on our fields. Tania [GR 030]“
«Αγαπητοί φίλοι, σας στέλνω λίγες φωτογραφίες από το καλοκαίρι 2011 που πέρασαν μαζί μας η Τζειν και ο Κεβην. Ήτανε μεγάλη βοήθεια για εμάς. Κύριος περιποιήθηκαν το ξύλινο σπιτάκι μας στο αγρόκτημα και τους κήπους που υπάρχουνε εκεί. Τάνια. [GR 030]“
4 – Permaculture
Anna Ioannidou is a Greek ex-WWOOFer in Australia who is now living in Greece and working on permaculture. She has founded www.urbanpermaculture.gr a platform of information and exchange about permaculture. She wrote and article about permaculture in general, and permaculture in Greece.
Η ‘Αννα Ιωαννίδου είναι ελληνίδα πρωην WWOOFer στην Αυστραλία, όπου τώρα ασχολείται εντατικά με τη αεικαλλιέργεια/περμακουλτούρα. Έχει ιδρύσει το www.urbanpermaculture.gr ως μια πλατφόρμα ενημέρωσης και ανταλλαγής ιδεών αεικαλλιέργειας για τις δίκες μας κλιματικές συνθήκες. Διάβαστε για την αεικαλλιέργεια εδώ.
5 – WWOOF European Conference 2011, Czech Republic
The first European WWOOF Co-ordinators meeting took place in Italy in May 2005. Since then, European meetings take place every two years in order to discuss subjects that interest all WWOOF European organisations, exchange ideas, good practices, communication tools and get to know one another.
In May 2011 the WWOOF European Conference took place in Czech Republic at Valec a small village of 200 inhabitants where gathered 42 participants from 21 different European countries including WWOOF Independents. Also, there have been 7 volunteers from Czech Republic, France and USA that helped with different ways throughout this meeting.
That was the first meeting that a representative of WWOOF Greece attended, and it was a a fruitful meeting for us as it coincided with the start of our organisation.
Programme of the meeting
Everyday we had formal and informal meetings in which different subjects were discussed raising questions, looking for answers and taking over responsibilities. Apart from these meetings, the 2nd day we had the chance to visit 2 local hosts or visit a local brewery. The local people welcomed us and explained us their daily activities.
Every night after the meeting there have been going on music or/and theatrical performances by the volunteers and representatives. The meeting finished in the woodlands over an open fire with a closing circle.
After this first experience attending a WWOOF European Conference we strongly support such meetings in order to meet the people “behind” the national WWOOF organisations, get to know each other, learn and help one another, feel the WWOOF spirit internationally.
– WWOOF Greece Team-
6 – Volunteers’ Feedback
“Our experience was amazing. We had wonderful interactions with our hosts and gained a range of new skills.
This is the way to meet a new place through the backdoor.”
- Cecily & Niki, UK –
<= Niki’s drawing
“My WWOOFing experience was ace! Bit harder sometimes than I imagined it would be but it was not like it was impossible or unreasonable (more because of my lack of skills!).
Just do it! It’s just like doing any job in your own country but with great weather, scenery, food and people!”
- David, UK -
“It’s fun! You learn so much more than organic farming. You build friendships and chances to have great experiences every where you go!”
- Archie, US -
” Go to one place for at least two weeks–I travelled to just one site for 3 weeks and loved getting to know the place well. I don’t think I would have enjoyed moving from host to host. Try to learn as much of the language as possible before you go, and take time on either side of your WWOOF experience to travel on your own through Greece and nearby countries (I went to Istanbul, Budapest, and France).
- Claire, US –
“My experience was absolutely fantastic, I wish I could go back every year. (…/…)
Make it extremely clear that WWOOFing is not a vacation, and that you should go in not willing to, but WANTING to work and learn.
It’s a truly amazing experience in every way. The work is educational and satisfying, and living with locals really gives you a unique understanding of the native culture. Do it! Work hard! Love it!“
- Alexandra, US -
7 – Study about Learning through WWOOFing
[ An ex-WWOOFer from Sweden is doing an interesting research on Learning. Take time for it! ]
My name is Maggie Melin (a former WWOOFer in Italy) and I am doing research on the WWOOFing program for my thesis at Lund University in Sweden.
The aim of my research is to try to better understand what and how people learning during their WWOOFing experiences.
In order to contribute to it, ex-WWOOFers can fill in a short 5 to 8 minutes a survey: http://edu.surveygizmo.com/s3/772358/The-WWOOFing-Experience
- Maggie Melin -
Graduate student at Lund University in Sweden
=> Photos, articles, ideas, remarks are welcome for the WWOOF Greece Newsletter No2 (programmed date of issues: October 2012 – Deadline to send material: 01/09/2012)
WWOOF Greece team <=