Woof article


LETTER FROM A WWOOFER

Dear Workstay,


here is our (late) report about our WWOOFing experiences on the Huebner farm, Sunnyhills Orchard in Donnybrook where we stayed from 14.11.01 to 17.11.01. The description of their place in the WWOOFer book (and of course their names) sounded quite funny, so we decided to go there for a week. However, these people were not funny at all and the way they treat their workers is a shame.
Helgo picked us up from the bus station where he dropped off a Swiss girl who had stayed for a week. He was quite rude to that girl and we had mixed feelings about how he might behave towards us. On the way to the farm, his questions sounded like the Spanish Inquisition and he asked us if we came to Australia to find ourselves a husband...
When we arrived at the farm, Helga took us to the orchard and showed us how to do the pruning. Susanne got scissors with which you normally cut paper; after two days of working with this equipment, her fingers were sore and she could hardly move her thumb.
Our room was o.k., although we had to go outside and around the house to get to the toilet and bathroom.

Besides ourselves there were a WWOOFer couple from England and three boys (from Poland, Estonia and Norway) who were participants in the International Rural Exchange Programme. We WWOOFers had to work from 6.00 am to 9.30 am and from 10.00 am to 12.30 pm. The Huebners provided a couple of sandwiches (every day the same) for the breakfast break at 9.30 and sometimes there was still a bite left for lunch. At 6.00 pm we got a warm meal for dinner. The atmosphere during dinner was always tense and everyone of us workers felt relieved when it was over! There was no decent conversation possible with the Huebners. So, on our very first night we decided to leave earlier than planned.

The next morning in the orchard, Helgo came to visit us on his trike, to see how we were working. We told him that we wanted to leave the next day and he became furious, said it was always the same with those backpackers, especially with the Germanian women, who are totally unreliable. Without listening to our reasons, he accused us of doing it on purpose. We were really afraid that he might get violent (no joke). Then he jumped onto his trike and hurried away.

When we retruned to the house, Helga gave us a lecture about how bad we were and that this had never happened before. All their previous 500 WWOOFers loved them, sent them postcards and wanted to visit them again... She was unstoppable in her tirades. Again she did not ask us about our reasons. We felt like shit. The next morning, we had to beg Helgo for a lift to the bus station, which he granted with a grunt. When we arrived at the bus station after a silent drive, Helgo said that he 'would rather not shake hands' and hurried away. We were so glad that the nightmare had come to an end.

We can only recommend to avoid this farm!

Kind regards,

Zivana Blagojevic and Susanne Mueller

p.s. We also sent this report to WWOOF.

p.s.s. WWOOF has never replied to these or similar concerns

Workstay was a WWOOF agent and contacted the WWOOF organisation at the time of this and other negative reports about this particular farming couple but received no response. Our concern was to know how the organisation handled feedback from its members and to date neither Workstay nor the WWOOF members concerned with this complaint have heard back from the WWOOF organisation.........

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