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Geroskipou
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): .5
Persons: Up to 10
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 58812
Country: Cyprus

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Last Updated: September 7, 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 look forward to welcoming you to our micro-farm in Paphos. Cyprus is a popular holiday destination and Paphos is one of the main tourist resorts. Travellers come here to enjoy the weather, the sea, the sun and nature. It is also not part of the Schengen zone so travellers come here to get out of the Schengen area until they are allowed to go back again. We have rented a small piece of land in an agricultural area so the feel is very rural but we are just 10 - 15 minutes walk from a village and a bus ride away from the airport and the main tourist areas of Paphos. Unfortunately the bus does not stop at the farm it is only about 7 minutes walk to the nearest bus stop. Some beautiful beaches 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.

About Us: We are a middle-aged expat couple who live with a crazy, young German shepherd cross, and the neighbour's cat who prefers our place to theirs. Besides my day job as a teacher, my husband and I grow novelty produce for the local restaurant trade. While we haven't had much time to pursue other interests lately, we are interested 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, makeshift 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 property and we have started establishing vegetable gardens where we can grow food for our kitchen.

We are vegetarians and love to eat healthy seasonal food and lots of fresh microgreens. We are happy to accommodate vegans if they are happy to help with cooking and sometimes preparing an alternative vegan dish for themselves if we have prepared a non-vegan dish as a main course. We have to keep everyone happy with the meals and as many of our volunteers are omnivores, we include dairy and eggs in their meals from time to time.

What can you learn here? In terms of learning new skills, my husband can do almost anything that needs doing by hand from welding to building to electrics. We also participate in permablitzes and natural building events on the island from time to time and you are welcome to join us in these events when they take place. 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 often subject to time and financial constraints and we always appreciate help with keeping up our healthy habits.

Help required: We generally try to let people do things they are good at or have an interest in. Sometimes there are things that just need doing and then we all have to just get stuck in and do them. But wherever possible we want you to do work that is meaningful and will possibly stand you in good stead in the future as work experience and on your CV. Here are 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. This entails sorting the junk into piles for burning, recycling, scrap metal, skip etc. This job has now become urgent as we are getting horses and the area where the junk is, is where we need to build the horse shelter and paddock.

We are in the process of erecting greenhouses and low tunnels. We need to still level parts of the field, put up fencing, build additional greenhouses and establish new planting beds. We need to do a lot of hot composting and mulching and there is a mountain of organic matter that needs to be processed. We need help with harvesting on delivery days. Sometimes you can help with sowing seeds or pricking out seedlings. We always need help with planting, weeding and trimming and there is usually potting up to do. The gardens and greenhouses also need watering daily. We also have some wicking beds and planters that we have planted up with vegetables and salads for the kitchen.

Opportunities to help in the specialized greenhouse are limited as this involves training and is not suited to short term volunteers. We do, however, try to give everyone who is interested to learn about what we do at least a morning here to see how the operation works. You can help with preparing seed trays, sowing seeds, watering, cleaning and see how the germination chamber operates.

The whole structure which we are living in, affectionately known as the clubhouse, needs a lot of work so carpenters, joiners, plumbers and electricians are especially welcomed. In fact, at this stage, anyone with strong building and other D.I.Y. skills would be most helpful to us. We also need to complete a packing room and would love to convert a small shipping container into a walk-in cooler and climate controlled grow room.

When Im not teaching I prefer to be hands-on at the farm so it's very helpful when we have someone who can help with cooking and take on the role of 'housekeeper' to help with keeping the clubhouse neat and clean and also help with the laundry.

We have an old boat, which is not longer seaworthy, that we'd like to renovate and use for accommodation. If you're into boats, perhaps you'd like to start on this project.
Various odd jobs need doing around the house and yard. There is always something that needs fixing or moving or cleaning. Some volunteers have done their own little projects up-cycling or renovating old furniture to make some social spaces.

Due to the fact that some tasks have a learning curve and to help with continuity, we ask that volunteers commit to at least a two-week stay. We also find it takes at least two weeks for volunteers to become fully integrated into our family. We enjoy building up longer term relationships with our volunteers and have a high rate of volunteers who return to stay with us a second time or more. However, we are usually very open-ended and if your stay is not working out for us both, 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.

Accommodation: Our accommodation is very basic and more suited to seasoned travelers and those that enjoy camping as I can best describe our accommodation as very rustic and at times sleeping in the clubhouse is a bit like indoor camping. The clubhouse is a makeshift building which we are slowly trying to turn into a home. As the farm is still in a development stage, there is a lot of work that needs doing so we have been taking on a few volunteers at a time and we have created a hostel style dorm setup at one end of the main living area of the clubhouse. We have found that volunteers enjoy the comradery of the dorm and have made lasting friendship while working and living with the other volunteers. We have also insulated two of our pergola style gazebos and turned them into cabanas for our more senior volunteers (two volunteers in the 3m x 3m cabana) and a 2nd one (slightly larger) with a double bed for couples has been completed but still needs some finishing touches. There is also the option to camp in a marquee under the trees which is the coolest area in summer and somewhat protected in the winter. We have three large tents which take a double mattress or two single mattresses. The tents are on a wooden platform under the marquee to protect them from sun and rain. In winter the sides of the marquee are covered with plastic to keep out the wind and the rain so in effect the tents are inside a larger, waterproof tent. There is electricity available in each tent for light and to charge your devices. There are two outside toilets and a rustic shower (with warm water) attached to the clubhouse but you may also use the newly completed showers at the pool when I am not busy teaching or doing therapies.
We appreciate flexibility from our 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 welcoming you like you are family. You will be working hard in the morning and the volunteers generally create an atmosphere of comradery and fun in the off time, exploring the area or going to the beach together and passing the evenings with food and music and games or 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 bantering and sometimes it is just mellow and quiet. Because we are all living together we screen our volunteers carefully to ensure the best chance of everyone having a mutually good experience. We enjoy hosting cheerful, positive people who get along well with other volunteers. Most of our volunteers have a good experience while here and we usually have a good experience with them.

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 OR CANNOT 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 SPECIAL DIETS THAT ARE GOING TO PUT A STRAIN ON EITHER.
Breakfast is coffee/tea, bread, butter, jam and seasonal fruit. We also provide oats for those who prefer porridge for breakfast. Monday to Friday we provide a cooked meal at least once per day for lunch or dinner but the second meal may be a lighter meal such as soup with bread or wraps with fillings or spuds with toppings. Edwin and I usually work on weekends so on your off days we won't feel obliged to stop our work to specially cook for you. So for lunch on weekends you'll usually just make yourself a sandwich. We usually have a cooked meal for dinner on weekends. We appreciate your help with preparing meals. Volunteers wash and dry their own dishes and take turns washing up the cooking utensils, tidying up and putting away leftovers after meals.

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 the airport. 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. If you can't get reasonably priced tickets to Paphos or Larnaca another option is to check for flights going to Ercan Airport which is in the North (Turkish occupied area). It is not a problem to get a bus from Ercan Airport to the North side of Nicosia. From there you walk through the checkpoint to the South side of the City. Just continue down Ledra street until you get to the end of the road. Turn right and you will find the main bus station a little further on your left. From there you can get a bus to Paphos.
Just a note to travellers who are not from the EU. If you have entered Cyprus in the South i.e. Paphos or Larnaca airports, you should depart from the South as well. If you leave through the North, the immigration authorities will not have a record of your leaving and according to their records you will have overstayed your visa. In this case you may not be allowed to enter Cyprus again in the future.
Time off and getting around: Paphos has a rich cultural heritage, was the Cultural Capital for 2017 and also has a wealth of archeological sites. From Paphos you can also explore the rest of the island by bus on your weekends. We are within walking distance of the beautiful beaches of Geroskipou, Paphos and the main tourist area but we are also near the bus stops for 3 different bus routes for those who would prefer to ride. We have six bicycles but maintaining them has proven a struggle as volunteers do not always use them responsibly and, besides some damages, we seem to be dealing with a lot of punctures so we cannot always guarantee a sound bicycle is available unless you are willing to fix the punctures yourself (youtube is great for learning how to do new things).

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. Sunblock and a protective hat that will cover your neck are a must. 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. Pack sturdy shoes with good soles to protect your feet from thorns, sharp stones, rusty nails etc. We will provide you with work gloves if required. Mosquito repellent is also good as sometimes there are mosquitos around.
Working Hours: 5 hours a day, usually 8:00 - 10:30, a half hour break, then 11.00 - 1.30 (starting 7:30 in Spring and Autumn during hot weather and 7:00 in the summer because of the intense heat), 5 days a week.

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