It's been an interesting week so far and it's only Wednesday. It's strange, isn't it, when sometimes your path crosses with someone who shows you a different way of looking at things and who you know that even if your meeting is fleeting, they have made a mark that will linger for much, much longer. And so it is with Steph the WWOOFer. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms or, as Steph said, Willing Worker On Organic Farms and is a simple scheme whereby people can come and stay on your farm and work on the land with you in return for free board, lodgings and food. We set ourselves up as a host farm earlier in the year and although we had quite a few people asking to stay I never felt it was the right time until I got an email from Steph. Steph lives and works in Bristol, so is not a million miles away from here and, to be totally honest, that was part of the appeal. I was quite nervous about having a complete stranger to stay with us so starting with someone who can easily jump in the car and be home in 20 mins seemed the best way to get used to the idea. I think that the WWOOFer is supposed to learn a lot whilst staying with you, but I have to say I think it's been the other way round so far this week!
I guess by the whole set up of the scheme, you are going to get people who have a positive outlook on life, who like to live by organic and eco principles and who are hard working and Steph is definitely all of those things, but it's the things she does for fun that has struck me most. It has struck me that her joie de vivre and her love of sharing within the community in which she lives, with no self gain or reason behind her projects, is part of her life force and makes her the positive person she is. I don't want this blog to seem like a love in for Steph, but it has made me realise that as life goes on, it's very easy to keep on doing the things that bring you pleasure to a point where you stop doing new things. For example, we love socialising with our friends, going to the pub and going out for meals. So when we decide to have a break from work, that's what we do. And I've stopped looking any further than that - to be honest, I'm usually to knackered to think any further than that. But I think I may change.
To give you an example of the type of things Steph and her friends do, how about making 1,000 origami paper cranes (the birds not the building equimpent) and stringing them to a public tree in the middle of the night so that when people wake up in the morning they have a beautiful sight to walk past on their way to work. How about then putting a visitors book in the tree that people can write comments on. Or, at New Year, making that same tree a Resolution Tree and stringing hundreds of luggage tags on to it so people can put their resolutions on and encourgage people to be positive in their resolutions, so instead of giving something up they take something up instead. Or, and this is my favourite, creating an International Homemade HobNob Day where, on a set day, people make homemade HobNobs and give them out to passers by on the street. This last one started with Steph and her friends and now has 200 likes on it's Facebook page and is carried out in continents all over the world.... How Cool Is That!!
I think the thing that I love most about the things Steph does is that not only is it for her enjoyment but she shares that enjoyment with total strangers and has the ability to make them smile. Some of the comments in the visitors book she left are great and really show that people love and appreciate the things she does. It's just brilliant and has really struck a chord.
So Kingswood and Wotton - if you wake up to a tree covered in paper cranes, or have a homemade biscuit shoved in your face whilst you walk down the street, you know who to blame! (Steph - I got all my inspiration from her - not me.)
This is Stephs website