Report from a WWOOF host farmer's meeting in the middle of Germany

The farms in the list are the heart of the WWOOF organization. WWOOF-Hosts convert their farm into a place for learning, where the quality of the relationship between hosts and wwoofers is the determining factor. WWOOF is a cooperation which is characterized as unconditionally voluntary and by mutual willingness to learn. Is it possible to even go one better? Yes, by broadening the mutual cooperation amongst host farms and by integrating them into the coordination of WWOOF. Like that we will create a strong network that will benefit wwoofers and potentially all of us.

Our host meeting at Kastanienhof is not the first of it's kind that we arranged. And we're making experiences: If the invitation is for 9 o'clock, then people will show up somewhen before 10. To have the overall mood for the waiting as well as for arriving guests unimpaired by that, the first host meeting “in the middle of Germany” starts with having breakfast together – with a growing number of people. The “gemütliche” breakfast-kitchen at Kastanienhof near Göttingen is most suitable for that.

As soon as all sunday guests have arrived, we take a walk in the sun to learn to know the history of the farm, which has agriculture, craft and politics as it's main pillars. A farm that had to face a fire desaster and that is inhabited by Götz and Kerstin with their family after a changeful community-formation history.

Back in the kitchen, a round of introductions gives us an overview of the guests of the day. It sounds a bit like in a famous book by the writer “Janosch”, to say: “ Jutta and Steffi have just arrived from csa Freudenthal – that is where the biggest red beet in the world is grown! And there – Obed and Malenka from Obermühle-farm, the car-trunk full of lampions they can give away. It was the longest journey for Hannes and Hella of Ollener Moor farm near Bremen, but as a matter of course they wouldn't miss the meeting…”

As not only the csa-people brought tasty food, we enjoy a wonderful all-round supply by the on-site cooking team. Right after luch we make an excursion, that is another thing we learnt: After lunch a little time-out with changing places is a good option. We go to “Kuhmuhne in Schönhangen” to go on a guided tour through the show garden there, which is closely linked to “Dreschflegel”-seed production – that is where small organic growers in Germany get their seeds from, mostly.

It is exciting, as “Dreschflegel”-seed producers as well have to protect their vegetables from slugs somehow and with plants like “Winterheckenzwiebel, Baldrian, Haferwurz” and others we can see plants and even taste some even in March.

Back in the kitchen once again we do some group work while eating cake and self-made ice-cream: A speciality of the house. Topics of the groups: “Networking between host farms” and “regional grant programs”.

Singing together with Angelika of host farm “Bunte Lebenswelten” and another tour through the house with Götz make the meeting perfect. Important: To decide at the place, where the next meeting shall happen: At the Galions, please!