Projects and LAND Network

Visiting and Volunteering

Visiting and Volunteering are great ways of learning about permaculture through an immersive and practical experience. They can be brilliant fun too and a means to meet other inspiring permaculture people.

Whether you are passionate about agro-forestry, no dig gardening, orchards, seed saving, eco building or finding the perfect composting toilet, our network of Permaculture projects and LAND centres has something to offer you! 

Why not take a look at our new, interactive projects and LAND map, read about some of our inspiring network projects and use it to plan your visit or to finda project to volunteer at? You can also find out about volunterring opportunities on our opportunities page. 

 

 

What Types of Visiting and Volunteering Opportunities are there? 

 
Short Visit- Our LAND centres all host open days during the year so that you can have an experience of practical permaculture. You may also choose to arrange your own visit. It will most likely involve a site tour with an explanation of some of the project features. Bear in mind that it can take a lot of time and energy for projects to show you around, so be prepared to make a contribution. See our events page for upcoming open days. 
 
Eco Holiday- Many of the permaculture projects on our map also have a campsite, glamping or eco-holiday lets. This way you can have a relaxed immersive experience and only help out at the level that works for you. Ask your host about how you can get involved during your stay. 
 
Regular Volunteer Day- A lot of community projects host a regular volunteer day, either on a weekly or monthly basis. This is perfect for people who want to make a longer term commitment to support a project in their area. You can find out about these on our Projects and LAND project profiles. 
 
Volunteer Week- Some of the larger projects in our network host a volunteer week, often in the hotter months. This can be a great way to get a lot of work done in a short period of time. Its a great opportunity to meet a bunch of like minded people, to eat, work and hang out together. This will generally involve camping or fairly basic facilities. 
 
Short/ Long Term Volunteering Opportunity-  These can range from a long weekend up to becoming part of the project community on a long term basis. You can arrange this opportunity yourself or use one of the many excellent organisations who set up volunteer placements between hosts and volunteers such as Wwoof, HelpX and Workaway
 
Internship- This is usually a longer term volunteering opportunity that may involve a particular area of study or learning programme. You can find out which of our projects offer internships on our opportunities page. 
 
Short Term Paid Position- It may be that some projects are willing to offer money for some of your work. This is generally for skilled workers, people who are taking on a greater area of responsibility or seasonal workers such as fruit pickers. Make sure you have clearly negotiated the terms of your contract before you start. 
 

 

Our Six Top Tips for Visitors and Volunteers

 

Tip One : Do your Homework

Unless you are planning a short visit and have no expectations, its a good idea to do a bit of background research on the project to make sure that it meets your visiting or volunteering needs. Many projects will have a website or a facebook profile, where you can find out more about their work and facilities. Alternatively drop them an email or give them a ring to find out what they are offering. 

 

Tip Two: Arrange your Visit Beforehand

Hosting visitors and volunteers requires a lot of time and energy. Many projects have set days/ times when you can visit or volunteer, so make sure that you have aranged your visit to be at a convenient time for your project host. Do not turn up at a project without arranging it first unless you know that they have an open door policy, a set volunteering day or are running an open day. Dont forget to look at our events, courses and opportunities pages to find out ways to participate. 

 

 

Tip Three: Make Agreements

If you are staying at a project as a volunteer, you need to be really clear on what the offer is, so that you can manage your expectations and so that you and your host feel safe and supported. Here are some questions that you may want to ask before you visit: 

 

  • What do you both hope to get out of the experience?
  • How long is your visit for?
  • How many hours per day are you expected to work?
  • When do you have breaks/ time off?
  • What food/ refreshments are provided?
  • What accomodation/ amenities are provided?
  • What are the communal spaces/ facilities and what is private?
  • What resources are available to you? (transport/ entertainment/ equipment/ wifi?)
  • Will there be any payment for your work? If so, how much?

 

Tip Four: Accessibility

Do you have any special requirements that need to be taken into consideration when you visit a project? Some of the projects in our network may be able accommodate a range of needs, wheras others may not. Therefore it is very important to negotiate this before your visit to avoid disappointment. Some considerations might be: 

  • Is the site wheelchair accessible or suitable for someone with mobility issues?
  • Is the site able to accomodate children?
  • Do the hosts have the capacity to work with vulnerable adults or people with additional needs? 
  • What special dietary requirements can be catered for? 
  • What type of work is expected of volunteers? 
  • Which pronouns do you want to be addressed by? 
  • Will there be other volunteers/ women/ children on site? 
  • Is accommodation shared or private? 

 

Tip Five: Safety

Making sure that you are safe and well when you visit a project is of the utmost importance. Your safety and the safety of others on site is the joint responsibility of you and your host. It is really important that you are clear about your level of experience, ability and competence with regards to work on site. Never take on any jobs that you feel uncomfortable with or that you feel may be dangerous. All projects who accept visitors or volunteers should have public liability insurance and a risk assessment in place, but you might want to check with them if this is the case. Here are some of the things that are considered good health and safety practice: 

  • Volunteer questionnaire/ interview to assess competency
  • Site tour and induction, including any high risk areas
  • Volunteer handbook
  • Location of the fire assembly point/ first aid kit
  • Trained first aider on site
  • Appropriate training  and supervision for on site tasks
  • Appropriate clothing/ protective equipment available if required
  • Training to use on site equipment 
  • Contact person at project if the volunteer has any problems
  • Whether there is a telephone/ good phone reception on site

 

 

 

Tip Five: Tread Softly
 
When you do get to the site how can you cause the least damage? Many a guided tour in a permaculture vegetable plot has ended with half the edibles trampled by unsuspecting visitors. So watch your step. Keep on pathways and avoid wandering in the bushes unless you are invited to do so. Generally the best way to behave is conservatively, remember you are not aware of 50% of the ideas put into action around you, so be careful when moving around the site and making judgements about it. Whilst being open for ideas and suggestions most hosts have a good idea of what they are doing, it can be rather annoying to be lectured on your mistakes by someone who has very little practical experience. The departure of such visitors is often a cause for great joy. The basic rule applies for all human relations: respect of others opinions reaps greater respect for yours.
 
 

Tip Six: Give Feedback
 
Mostly stays go well and both hosts and visitors feel rewarded by the experience, but it doesn't always go that way. Let your host know immediately when problems arise. Often misunderstandings can be resolved quickly. Should this not be the case a swift ending of the stay may be the best option. If you feel that there are issues at any project that you feel puts you or others in imminent danger or are experiencing extremely innapropriate or threatening behavior, report this to the hosts and the relevant authorities if necessary. If you have serious concerns and have found this opportunity through our Projects and LAND map, please get in touch with our Projects Network Development Officer and they will look into it for you. 
Feel free to give positive feedback too. Many projects welcome volunteers because they love to be inspired by your input and experience. If you've had a great time, be sure to let them know.  
 
 
 
We hope you enjoy your visiting and volunteering experience. If you have visited one of the projects on our Projects and LAND map, we'd love it if you would share your exeriences on our blog. Contact us to find out more about this opportunity.