Farm Caretakers, Renters, and WWOOFers
By Bobbi Peterson | Apr 20, 2017
As a farmer, there are a lot of ways to make a little extra money or get a little extra help around the farm. Whatever your reasons for looking at alternative options, there are plenty to choose from. Hiring caretakers, taking on renters, and offering volunteer opportunities are all good ways to bring in some additional income.
Owning a farm is a great job. You learn new things practically every day, meet new people, and even learn some basic veterinary care. Despite the numerous benefits, there are often reasons that you may need to leave your farm.
When you do need to leave, someone still needs to be there to care for it. The upkeep of the land, animals, and buildings will still be your responsibility. However, you can get someone to stay, keep an eye on things, and fix small problems in your absence. While you’re gone, this person should update the farm’s records as well, so make sure you determine your caretaker’s record-keeping abilities.
The good news is that if you do need to leave, you can hire someone for this job and spend the time doing whatever it is that you need to focus on. Depending on the position, you may also need to provide the caretaker with a basic income, although it should small since they already get to live there.
This is a great opportunity for someone who likes farm work, understands it, and is willing and able to work on their own. The downside, of course, is that you have to leave your farm with a relative stranger. If it’s a big farm, it might be too much for one person. In the best situations you would stay relatively close-by in order to help in case of an emergency. However, many caretakers would expect to take over the daily tasks for a season or a few months. That could be a great place to start.
Renting a Room
Renting out your room can be a bit of a gamble. You’re taking a risk bringing someone into your home, but it’s important to remember that most people are good and decent. A bit of vetting before letting someone move into your home can go a long way toward keeping out people you won’t be able to get along with.
Before anyone moves in, make sure you have an idea of what you expect from the arrangement. Having to share all the communal areas can be awkward at first, but you can ease that by agreeing on expected duties and chores ahead of time. Plan for who cooks when, grocery shopping, cleaning, and all the other daily chores that have to get done. Just because someone is paying to live there doesn’t mean you’re their maid.
Just like any other rental agreement, make sure you get everything in writing. In some states verbal agreements are considered binding, but having something on paper prevents more mishaps. Most of the information can be gathered by simply having potential renters fill out a rental application form. With this you can get references, learn basic living habits like whether or not they smoke, find out if they have any pets, and establish a basic rental fee.
Of the options here, this is the least heard of. WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms) is a relatively new organization; it came about as a startup to promote organic farming and ecotourism at the same time. Essentially, the idea is to connect people who want to live and work on organic farms with farms that are looking for help.
The WWOOFer volunteer will work on the organic farm, presumably yours. In return, the hosts offer a place to live, food, and learning opportunities. The coolest thing about this is that they deal with organic farms all over the world. If a potential volunteer can get there, they can live and work there. No matter where you are, you can use this organization to find volunteers. As the host, you would provide food, accommodations, and learning opportunities.
These are three very different ways to bring in additional income or extra help, but they all come with benefits, including meeting new friends and offering learning opportunities. Each requires a slightly different skill set and knowledge base, so make sure you choose the option that suits you best. Once you do, you can embark on a new adventure!
Photo by Adobe Stock/caftor
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