WWOOFers: new immigrant class
Every spring, young people called WWOOFers flock to Homer to work in our greenhouses and high tunnels, gardens and homesteads. Whether you call it Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, WWOOFing is a worldwide movement. For the cost of fare to Alaska and some gear, enterprising young people offer their labor on farms and homesteads in return for food and shelter. Alaska WWOOFers are lucky; they often fish and kayak, hike and ski with their hosts. WWOOF hosts share wisdom; WWOOFers share time, energy and youthful enthusiasm.
On WWOOF websites, WWOOF hosts describe their farm, current projects, duties expected of WWOOFers and philosophy. Potential WWOOFers post their profile, picture, references from WWOOF hosts and skills. The website we use is www.wwoofusa.org.
When a WWOOFer inquires, “Is there a WWOOF position open at your farm?” a successful WWOOF host qualifies potential WWOOFers carefully by e-mailing a list of questions: How is your work ethic? What physical skills and farm experience do you have? What is your education? Are you strong? Can you use a shovel? What are your principles? Do you get along with your family and friends? Do you drink or use drugs? Why are you interested in our farm? How do you plan to get here?
Some outstanding WWOOFers have answered such questions satisfactorily and come to Homer. There is a sizable movement to Homer every summer of energetic, diligent young people. Some WWOOFers have chosen to find work and stay. This movement could offset Homer’s sizable retired population, contribute to Homer’s economy and Homer’s food security.
Homeranians might devote some thought to what young folks see and experience when they land in Homer. Like all young folk, they wonder: Is this place good and beautiful and healthy? Is this where I want to settle down and raise a family? As Mako Haggerty pointed out, Homer used to have young people coming up for the fishing industry. They stayed and contributed valuable energy to Homer. Every community needs an immigrant class to stay vital and healthy. WWOOFers are our new immigrant class.