WWOOF directors, coordinators and staff try to meet every two to three years in a country hosted by a National WWOOF group. They help connect those working in the WWOOF network and aim to inspire and unite.
2014 saw WWOOF Turkey host a plethora of bodies, including: 28 National WWOOF Groups, WWOOF Founder Sue Coppard, staff from the WWOOF International Association and Federation of WWOOF Organisations, along with various children.
The venue for the meeting was Pastoral Vadi, a beautiful piece of organically farmed land located just outside Fethiye. There was a wide variety of fresh produce, such as pomegranates, citrus, grapes, olives for both their oil and for eating, goat milk and chicken eggs. The great vegetarian food we ate came from the farm and was cooked by some wonderful people in an outside kitchen over open fire. There was always strong tea ready for us to drink, brewing away in a large charcoal fired urn. We were ecstatic to be housed in rustic wood or mud cottages, wanting nothing more than an authentic experience. The children loved jumping and swimming in the naturally filtered spring-fed pools. They delighted in finding fish in the river, as well as turtles and even a snake skin!
Arriving from all over the world, Thursday was spent getting settled in and greeting each other over the first of many fantastic meals.
The meetings officially began on Friday, with WWOOF Turkey coordinator Berkay Atik opening and welcoming us all to Turkey. We shared our own tales of how each of us first encountered WWOOF, before being introduced to ‘body percussion’, whereby we had a fantastic time warming up!
Following the Saturday morning conference, the group went to Tlos Mountain Lodge where we ate under the trees and cooled off in the pool. The friendly hosts supplied us with divine fresh pomegranate juice and a huge selection of delicious homemade Turkish food. We then all piled back onto the buses which carried us on to visit a local WWOOF host under the mountain peaks of Akdag. Cem and Buket were lovely people who ran Tangala Goat Farm. We tasted a variety of superb cheeses, wine and dried figs, and were given a tour of the goat house and milking shed. Discovering the dairy, we observed in awe at how the lady of the house made her boutique goat cheeses. We also met Ciaran and Thomas, WWOOF volunteers from Australia and France respectively. The children had a fantastic time playing with people from all over the globe and we ended the day dancing to some great Turkish music. As the sun set, it was time to take the journey back to our base at Pastoral Vadi.
Sunday morning meetings were followed by a visit to an educational farm with cactus fruit, pomegranates, mulberries, vegetables and a large collection of herbs. The hosts gave an interesting talk on organic farming and again we were offered delicious homemade food. Sadly this was our final evening before departing to our various corners of the world. We had (another) delicious meal with traditional wedding feast dishes, gozleme and some warming Raki.
These international WWOOF gatherings are useful as we are a large organisation made up of a diverse group of people from all parts of the world. We eagerly anticipate the next conference as they allow us to share ideas, problem solve and discuss issues with likeminded people face to face. We connect with old friends, meet new ones, and it is good to put a face to a name/email. Several topics were discussed from legal issues to organic development. There was also a focus on international relations between the two International WWOOF bodies, as well as promoting WWOOF worldwide.
We came away with a better understanding of how other WWOOF groups operate (as it is different in each country) and of course being around people that share the love of organics, sustainable living, renewable energy and protecting our earth is always positive.
Hope to see you all again soon!
Australia – Garry Ainsworth & Maree Swan
Bangladesh – Professor Mohammed Ataur Rahman
Cameroon – Peter Yuhala
Canada – Becky Young & Gary Eichenauer
Czech Republic – Vojtech Vesely & Roman Barton
Denmark – Lars Myrthu-Nielsen
FoWO – Amanda Pearson
France – Leni Dipple, David & Alexandra Marie + 2 kids (5, 10)
Germany – Jan-Philipp Gutt & Anja Monden
Greece – Emmanuel Mappus
Hungary – Tamas Varga & Daniel Rideg
Independents – Basil Black
India – Harish Chander Tewari
Ireland – Annie King, Jenny Greig & Rob Coppard
Italy – Eszter Matolcsi
IWA – Jane Bryan + 4 kids (4, 9, 10, 17)
Kazakhstan – Aitymov Zhandos
Lithuania – Skirmantas Razauskas
New Zealand – Andrew Strange
Norway – Mette Pauline Strand
Poland – Michal Nowak
Portugal – Rodrigo Rocha & Charlotte Brouessard
Serbia – Katarina Milenkovic
South Korea – Kota Fukuyama & Wendi Choi
Spain – Chemi Peña & Carl Rogers
Sri Lanka – Chaminda Kumara
Sweden – Jandi Hallin
Switzerland – Reinhard & Elisangela Pereira Lüder
Turkey – Berkay Atik
UK – Nim Kibbler & Scarlett Penn
USA – Sarah Potenza, Jessica Brodie, Ryan Leo Goldsmith
Special Guest – Susan Coppard