All Year: Yes
Area (ha): .5
Persons: Up to 10
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 58812
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Last Updated: January 20, 2019
About our volunteering Experience:
NB: THIS VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE SO PLEASE READ OUR PROFILE THOROUGHLY BEFORE YOU SEND US A HOSTING REQUEST.
We are a middle-aged expat couple who, after losing our life savings, are trying to re-establish ourselves and secure our future here on the sunny island of Cyprus. We live with our white husky, Snowball, our crazy German shepherd cross puppy, Luna(tic) and the neighbours kittens who prefer our place to theirs. We're in Geroskipou which is adjacent to the municipality of Paphos. We have rented a small piece of land in the agricultural area so the feel is very rural but we are just 10 - 15 minutes walk from the Geroskipou village square and on the bus route to the airport and the harbor and main tourist area of Paphos. Unfortunately, the bus does not stop at the farm but there is a bus stop about 7 minutes walk away. The beautiful beaches of Geroskipou are about 15 - 20 minutes walk from the farm. Our sunsets are legendary and there's nothing as beautiful as watching it set over the sea.
Besides my day job as a swimming teacher/therapist, my husband and I also grow microgreens and edible flowers for the local restaurant trade. While we haven't had much time for other interests lately we also have an interest in permaculture, community work and working towards sustainable living. We have recently moved the farm from another village and we are still working on getting greenhouses erected and systems established. We also need to turn a rustic building on the land into a home. Once the systems for earning a living are in place we would like to start working on a permaculture design plan for the rest of the land.
We are vegetarians and love to eat healthy seasonal food and, of course, lots of fresh microgreens.
What can you do in your time off?
Our busy lifestyle means we won't have much time to show or take you around but Paphos was the cultural capital for 2017 and the town, harbor and tourist area will be your playground. We have bicycles at your disposal and we are about 7 minutes walk from the bus stop. We also don't mind giving you a lift if and when it is convenient. If you walk down to the sea, the hotel strip with its many beaches is to the right and the coastal path will take you all the way to the harbour. To the left you will find beaches that become progressively less touristy so if you don't like a lot of people around in summer head that way.
Working hours: Volunteers usually work from 8.00 until 10.00, have a half hour break and then work again from 11.30 until 13.30. In the summer months we start at 7.00 to avoid some of the heat.
Meals and arrangements on days off:
Three meals are provided. PLEASE LET US KNOW BEFOREHAND IF YOU HAVE SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS OR PREFERENCES OR IF THERE ARE THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY DON'T EAT. WE HAVE HAD PEOPLE COME WHO HAVE NOT NOTED THIS ON THEIR PROFILE AND THEN SPRING IT ON US ONCE THEY ARE HERE. WE ARE ON A TIGHT BUDGET AND HAVE A TIGHT SCHEDULE SO WE CAN'T ACCOMMODATE DIETS THAT ARE GOING TO PUT A STRAIN ON EITHER.
Breakfast is coffee/tea, bread, butter, jam and seasonal fruit. Monday to Friday we provide a full cooked meal at least once per day for lunch or dinner but the second meal may be a lighter meal such as soup or wraps or spuds with toppings. Weekends - Edwin and I usually work on weekends so on your off days we may be very busy and we won't feel obliged to stop our work just to cook especially for you when perhaps we are happy to just grab a sandwich for ourselves. So you may have to prepare a meal for yourself or grab a sandwich. There is always something to eat or ingredients to make something. If we happen to be cooking you are always welcome to join us for the meal and we will always appreciate a bit of help preparing the food. Volunteers wash their own breakfast dishes and take turns washing up after the other meals.
We work long hours and have a fairly stressful life. We don't have the time and energy to deal with little dramas or clean up after you. We expect you to be helpful, cheerful and positive, clean up after yourself and put your tools away and clean up your work area when you are done. With good communication we will have a good time together.
If you have read up to here you are doing well. Give yourself a pat on the back. One of the reasons we mostly have mutually enjoyable Volunteer experiences with our volunteers is because we try to choose volunteers that will be happy in our environment and with each other and we want you to be sure that this will be a good experience for you. Please read the rest of the information carefully and if you are interested to spend time with us you can send us a hosting request but YOU MUST PUT "I HAVE THOROUGHLY READ YOUR ENTIRE PROFILE" IN THE SUBJECT HEADING so that we know you really know what we need and what we have to offer. That is our way of ensuring that we have volunteers that have realistic expectations and will be happy with the Volunteer experience we have to offer. If you like what you have read we invite you to come and have a good time while contributing to a project and creating a space which is going to be the hub of many community activities in years to come. We look forward to getting to know and work with you.
So what do we need help with and what will you have to do?
It is always most beneficial to us and more interesting for you if you do what you are best at and/or what interests you. Give us an idea when you contact us what appeals to you and what you absolutely would not like to help with and we will try to accommodate you. Of course sometimes there are things that just absolutely need doing and then we just need to pitch in and get it done.
Some of the projects we will be working on:
At the field we have rented we have to clear up and remove a lot of junk that was collected and left by an illegal squatter. We are in the process of erecting greenhouses so we need to level the field, put up fencing, build additional greenhouses and establish new flower and vegetable beds. Compost bays have been built and we need to do a lot of hot composting. There is a mountain of organic matter that needs to be processed. We also need to set up a packing room, washing station, office and walk-in cooler. We need to renovate the toilets and would like to build a new bathroom so that we can take down the makeshift shower room we created in a small alleyway between the clubhouse and the toilets. The whole former clubhouse which we are living in needs work and we want to install wardrobes in the bedroom and cabinets in the kitchen so carpenters / joiners are especially welcomed. At this stage anyone with building and other D.I.Y. skills would be most helpful to us.
At our house which we are renting out (not where we are living) we need help with sanding, painting, scraping, plastering and also cleaning up and neatening up after a previous worker that did very shoddy work (so please don't volunteer for this one if you can't do neat work). There are also other repairs that need doing as the roof is leaking.
In the microgreens greenhouse you may be able help with filling seed trays, labeling, sowing seeds, watering, cleaning, helping to pack orders etc. This is an interesting job and you may be able to put the knowledge you gain to good use in the future. It requires attention to detail and working conscientiously, according to protocols. For this reason we give priority to long term volunteers who are really interested in this job.
If you have good fine motor skills and can work quickly you could help with harvesting and packing flowers if and when needed. There are also always plants that need grooming, trimming and weeding and there is sometimes seed sowing and potting up to do for the new season.
We have to prepare new growing beds for vegetables and flowers and construct caterpillar tunnels over them. We also have a few wicking beds that have to be set up again after the move and planted up.
We also always need help with admin, filing, record keeping. If you like doing accounts and keeping things organized you may find the office is the place that you prefer to be. Our paperwork and accounts usually need attention and as neither of us enjoy paperwork we tend to procrastinate on it and appreciate people who have a knack for organizing paperwork.
Because we work long hours and have a tight schedule, we struggle to keep up with household chores so we really appreciate people who can help with dusting and cleaning and the various odd jobs that need doing around the house and yard.
Due to the fact that some tasks have a learning curve and to help with continuity, we ask that Helpx volunteers commit to at least a two week stay. However, we are usually very open ended and if you are not happy you are welcome to move on and if you love it and we find you're making a valuable contribution you can always extend your stay. We have volunteers staying for up to three months.
Our accommodation is very basic and more suited to seasoned travelers and those that enjoy camping as I can best describe our situation as 'indoor camping' during the winter. To facilitate our move and the mountain of work that needed doing we have been taking on a few volunteers at a time and created a hostel style dorm setup in the main room of the clubhouse. It is a very rustic, informal structure which we will slowly be turning into a home. There are 5 beds in the clubhouse. We have also insulated one of our pergola style tents and turned it into a cabana for those who want a little more privacy (two to a 3m x 3m cabana) and the 2nd one (slightly larger) with a double bed for couples should be ready soon. In the warmer months we will take on more volunteers and have large (4 - 6 man) tents available in the shade for those who prefer to be outside. At this stage there are two outside toilets and a rustic shower (with warm water). If you enjoy your creature comforts you may not be wanting to visit us just yet. We appreciate flexibility from our Helpx volunteers and try to be flexible from our side too. What we lack in amenities, we hope to make up for in community spirit and giving you a good time. You will be working hard in the morning and the volunteers generally create an atmosphere of comradery and fun in their off time, exploring the area or going to the beach together and passing the evenings with food and music and tales around the fire. Bring your instrument if you play one. The atmosphere in the house depends very much on who is staying at the time. Sometimes there is a lot of laughing and joking and sometimes it is just mellow and quiet. We enjoy hosting cheerful people who get along well with other volunteers. Most of our volunteers have a good experience and we usually have a good experience with them.
A little bit more about getting here, staying here and getting around:
Traveling to Paphos: It is always easiest if you can get a flight to Paphos airport as it is just 15 minutes drive from our home and we can pick you up from there. However, if the best deals are to Larnaca airport please check cyprusbybus.com for the availability of buses to Paphos at the time of your flight.
Where to go in time off:
As previously stated we won't have much time to take you around but we are fairly close to Paphos which is steeped in history and abounds with historical sites. In the winter months we still have many sunny days so you could enjoy a walk along the beach or cycle along one of the coastal roads to enjoy the sun. For a change of scenery you could go up to the Troodos mountains to ski, visit the old town in Nicosia, take a bus trip to Northern Cyprus or explore the tourist areas in Limassol or Larnaca and Ayia Napa. We are also on the bus route to Aphrodites Rock. Another nice day outing is a bus trip to the picturesque fishing village of Latsi which reputedly has the best fish tavernas and from there to the baths of Aphrodite from where you can hike to the beautiful blue lagoon.
We don't drink or smoke and while we don't mind if you have some wine or a beer in the house we don't tolerate smoking in the house and we will absolutely not accept intoxication. If you would like to go out on the town at night we would expect you to return quietly and not wake up the house. We would expect you to be helpful and courteous and clean up after yourself. We are on a tight budget so wastefulness will also not be tolerated and we expect you to go easy on expensive food items like cheese etc. We cannot afford to have volunteers that raid the fridge without regard for our budget. Certain items are reserved for meal planning.
If you are not sure of anything please ask. Good communication helps to prevent awkward situations and ensure that you have a pleasant stay.
Things to pack:
The Cypriot sun can be quite harsh (even in winter) so if you have fair skin or are not used to the sun it is advisable to wear light long trousers and a light, long shirt even in hot weather. Some people also get skin rashes from contact with certain plants and weeds so it's good to protect your arms and legs from those too. Sunblock and a protective hat that will cover your neck are also a must. Sturdy shoes with good soles will protect your feet from thorns, sharp stones etc. We will provide you with work gloves if required. Mosquito repellent is also good as sometimes there are mosquitos around. It would be good to bring your own sleeping bag, if you have one, in the colder months as it will provide you with extra warmth and comfort. If you don't have one don't worry we'll make a plan to keep you warm.
What can you learn from this volunteering experience?
In terms of learning new skills, my husband can do almost anything that needs doing by hand from welding to building to electrics. You will also have the opportunity to learn about growing microgreens, edible flowers, and many other plants. We use some innovative gardening techniques and containers to grow healthy organic food. We are also into healthy living and like to practice juicing, dehydrating, fermenting (e.g. Sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha etc.) and other healthy ways to improve our immune systems and let food be our medicine although these are subject to time constraints and we always appreciate help with keeping up our healthy habits.