Our normal arrangement is that if you’re here for the day we’ll keep you in tea and give you lunch, and if you’re staying, you get use of the facilities, and we provide all meals (or at least the means to make them).
We’ve had fantastic times with our volunteers, and made great friends along the way.
From our experience with different helpers, from various backgrounds and cultures, the happiest outcomes are with those people who are truly interested in the sort of place we are running, (organic food production, sustainable living, self sufficiency or horses—and preferably all of the above!) and who are not afraid of working hard.
Prospective helpers should be aware that the work at the farm can be physically demanding (like carrying heavy things, digging the garden, or moving manure around in a wheel barrow), and usually involves spending a lot of time outdoors, sometimes in inclement weather. If what you are looking for is a cheap holiday, or if you are the sort of person who will be looking at your watch, waiting for the time to knock off work, or who needs a very active nightlife, etc, our farm is not the place for you.
While we ask people to commit for a specific period of time, if the working/living relationship between a helper and ourselves is not working out, they may leave, or be asked to leave, ahead of schedule. From our experience, this is a better option than sticking to a situation which is not working out for one or both parties. Also note that the farm is strictly non smoking, so we only take non-smokers.
We offer in exchange comfortable accommodation, delicious organic food and a very special experience. Accommodation is in our converted truck, which is well equipped and has it’s own kitchen, shower room, and woodburning stove. There’s plenty of time to read (helpers can borrow books from our large library), write, or explore the area, but note that we don’t have TV. Wifi internet access is available, but our usage is capped so we ask that visitors use it sensibly (no film downloads!).
What makes everything possible at Lackan Cottage Farm is the amazing work put in by volunteers. Some are locally based, and may come along for a few hours a week, and others come to us from across the world, as you can see from our map –
Previous experience has shown us that it is best to put down in writing some of the important things which we expect from someone staying at the farm, in order to avoid misunderstandings or to help clear them if they arise. Forgive us if some of the items below seem very obvious, and/or if the tone appears a bit stern. If you find yourself flinching at some of the items listed below, then it might be better to listen to your own instincts, as they might be telling you that our place is not for you. We endeavour to be as clear as possible regarding how our place works so that people can have a good idea of what we are about before they arrive.
During your stay here, we ask that you:
1.Keep the accommodation clean and tidy, as you might be sharing the truck with other helpers, and many others will follow after you.
This includes washing up regularly after meals and putting dishes away, sweeping the floor, emptying the truck toilet on a very regular basis, i.e before it becomes full. Make sure that your personal belongings are kept in your own room and not in the common areas, etc. At the end of your stay, we ask you to make sure that the accommodation is left in the same state as you found it. Past experience shows that this is often a problem, so we ask you to be particularly mindful in this regard.
2. Help with the washing up if you are having meals with us. (Please note that these two items above are not considered ‘work’, but part of living in a larger community of people.)
3. Put anything you use, particularly tools back in their place immediately after use, so that the next person that needs them can find them easily, and leave the tools you used and the working area clean and tidy. This is part of working in a larger community of people.
4. Not invite anyone to stay in the accommodation without checking with us first.
5. Be flexible as regards meal arrangements. Depending on the number of helpers here at one time and the time of year, meals might be taken with us communally (in which case we do the cooking, though sometimes welcome help from people who would like to learn to cook), or helpers make their own meals with ingredients which we supply (*note however that this isn’t a licence to raid our foodstore, or our larder, please ask before taking anything!!!). Often meal arrangements will be a combination of the two options: occasionally having meals with us, self-catering on the other days. During our busy season, everyone eats together.
IMPORTANT The farm is strictly non smoking, so we ask you not to smoke on the property (even outside). Please also note that although we don’t have a strict no-alcohol policy, we take a negative view of heavy drinking and will not tolerate illegal drugs under any circumstances.
6. Come here with appropriate gear so as to be equipped to work outdoors (proper clothing and waterproof boots). If you don’t then you might have to do without. Make sure you bring your own torch (mainly for the off-season) . We provide working gloves, but again , it might be better for you to bring your own rather than have to use old/sweaty/dirty ones.
7.Not to be clock watching as regards when to finish work. As we have tried to explain on our website and through email correspondence to potential helpers, the working day is not a set 9 to 5. On average, you can expect to work about 6 hours every day (with two days off every week), but if there is bad weather, or if there is a specific job or project that has to be finished that day, the working day could be much shorter or longer. We ask that you are flexible with your work hours and we will endeavour to balance out any imbalances (giving an extra day off if you have been working exceptionally long days, etc). Also remember that your days off are our days off, and whilst we don’t mind giving the occasional lift to town, we don’t run a taxi service and value our limited private time.
8. Be aware of your energy consumption. Please switch off lights, don’t fill a kettle to the limit and then only use half a cup, etc, and use appliances sparingly in the truck. Unplug anything that isn not in use. Please be mindful of the amount of fuel you use to heat the truck. Do you need to have the place as warm as it might be at home (where someone else might be paying the bills)? If you are feeling cold, do you need to burn more wood, or can you put another jumper on? Ask yourself: do you really need to wash those three items today, or can you wait until there is a full load? Please ask us if we have things to wash (we always do) as there is only one washing machine. Note that as we are using only ecofriendly products, we supply the washing powder as well.
9. Respect the value and integrity of the exchange. A successful exchange works both ways: as you are giving voluntarily of your time and effort you must feel that it is ‘worth it’ for you, that you are learning from the experience, gaining insight into the many challenges of trying to live a more sustainable way of life, appreciating the uniqueness of a rural setting or simply relishing the opportunity for peace and quiet. We are always very happy to share any bit of knowledge or know-how with people staying here, and please don’t hesitate to ask. For our part, we must also feel that we are receiving useful work back in exchange for the food (of a very high quality – home cooked and nearly 100% organic), accommodation and occasional instructions that we are offering. We are loathe to be calculating the ‘worth’ of an exchange from a monetary point of view, but prospective helpers should be aware of the input from us, and that what we offer to helpers is the same as what is offered to paying guests on our courses.
10. Communicate with us as to how you are feeling about the work/the place/ us. If you feel that the exchange is not working, please let us know. We normally have a weekly meeting to agree on the work schedule and to allow issues, problems, ideas, suggestions to come up and be discussed. But if there is a problem or question which comes up outside of this weekly meeting, please bring it to our attention. Generally speaking we expect you to be open, honest and truthful in all your communication with us and with other people staying on the farm. Equally, we are always receptive to any comments, constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement you might have regarding how the place is run.
11. We have a dog – she is an old member of our family. If you don’t like dogs – maybe we’re not for you.
12. Got unusual dietary requirements? Vegan, gluten free? We are omnivores but will cook vegetarian and its no problem. Beyond that you’re on your own. We can’t tailor everyone else’s meals to suit, or buy specialist items.
All this being said, we are deeply grateful to those who have helped us here on the farm and feel very fortunate to have met so many interesting people from many different countries. We have been enriched by the lasting friendships we have made.
If you are interested in coming as a helper, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org with details of your relevant experience (if any), the reasons why you’re choosing our place, and the dates you would be available. If you can, also send us a photo (or a link to one on the Internet), as we like to know what prospective helper look like 🙂
If you have read this far, congratulations. We only accept volunteers after they have read our terms, and ask that you let us know you have done so by putting the word “TRUCKDWELLER” in your email to us.