Lately, I have been talking about the Farm or Home Stays I have been participating in. I have been asked how one finds people who need HelpXers (as we are called). It is easy, through an online site called Help Exchange (or HelpX for short). The following blurb is straight from the Help Exchange Website and describes the theory behind the program much better than I ever could.
“Welcome to Help Exchange (HelpX)
HelpX is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.”
“HelpX is provided primarily as a cultural exchange for working holiday makers who would like the opportunity during their travels abroad, to stay with local people and gain practical experience. In the typical arrangement, the helper works an average of 4 hours per day and receives free accommodation and meals for their efforts.”
The only difference is that I have decided to stay within the United States (I cannot even imagine the mess I would be if I was traveling abroad). If I was interested in traveling overseas, that would be an option. There are all kinds of working opportunities as well as locations. Some places need experienced help and others are willing to teach, train and coach you to learn a new skill.
The program is amazing as are the people who participate as Hosts. They are awesome and generous. This is a great program for young people to learn about different cultures and learn all kinds of skills, but it is turning into an option for more experienced (dare I say older) people who want to get off the corporate treadmill and start living an alternative lifestyle. I have run into more and more “older” couples who want to ditch the mortgage and the stuff and hit the road.
HelpX is a great way to give back and pay forward. It opens doors to let the participants help each other as well as people who are in need of assistance. I want my life to start being about others instead of always being about me (if you have read past posts, it really is all about me).
So what have I learned so far from my HelpX experience: (1) How to lay field stone and gravel to make a mud-free walkway, (2) How to make better a better food product by using sustainable and organic means, (3) How to paint a porch, (4) Goats are really fun to take care of, (5) How to make coffee with a French Press, (6) The more you move the better you feel, (7) After all these years, I am still allergic to hay, (8) Some outside people do not understand the concept and are not trusting of your motives and so much more. This journey has just begun, so I am looking forward to what other lessons I will be learning. Here’s to a wild ride!!