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Help Exchange

All Year: Summer 2020
Area (ha): 0.5
Persons: 2
Category: Homestay
Host ID: 98847
Region: Mid Atlantic

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Last Updated: June 7, 2020

**COVID-19 has meant we have not hosted anyone yet, but we would like to start communications with interested helpers to come join us from mid-July 2020.**

We (Kara, Ben, and adored-dog Freddie) have been living at our new home on beautiful Chautauqua Lake for less than six months, and are loving the lake life so far. We are renovating the apartment side of our home and improving the land. Helping hands are warmly welcomed!

Our home is on a half acre of land. We have worked this spring to turn grass into gardens, we built raised beds, and are planting (native when possible) trees and shrubs, and other projects to get our piece of paradise closer to our dream dwelling. We also have an apartment that is attached to our main house that will run as an Airbnb when the remodeling is complete. We are also remodeling our side of the house. The house is a conventional house, but we implement as many natural building techniques as we can and attempt to repurpose and reuse, keeping the look classic and natural. We have worked with and plan to do more natural plastering, milk paint, tadelakt, etc.

Where We Live: Western New York State (very far from NYC), in a village that borders a city of about 30,000. We live very close to Chautauqua Lake, we are not on the lake, but have a beautiful view and spend as much time as we can enjoying the water. Attractions near us include state parks, Niagara Falls, Amish country, etc. Activities include bike trails (paved/mountain biking,) snowshoe/cross country ski trails, fishing, kayaking, camping, and more. Downtown is less than 10 minutes away for restaurants/bars etc.

About Us: We have been helpers since 2011. We have worked on farms and homesteads in Costa Rica, France, Greece, Canada, Poland, and others. From our experience as helpers we know that communication and patience is important between hosts and helpers.

Ben is very active, he swims, cycles, snowboards, surfs, etc. Kara is a yoga instructor and by working at a school has July & August off, although due to COVID-19 she has been home since March, so will be available to be with helpers most of the time. We are passionate about the environment and are excited to connect with people from all over the world.

Expectations: We will provide private accommodation in our Airbnb when it is not booked and when the remodel is complete, if it is booked then we offer a spare bedroom in our side of our house. We will provide meals that are healthy and when possible that come from our garden. We will accommodate special diets as best we can, however we are omnivorous. Helpers who enjoy cooking are a big bonus! In exchange for staying with us we expect 5-6 hours of work five days a week. We will give you as much guidance as we can and work side by side with you. Work may include natural building finishes (plaster/milk paint,) work in the garden (building beds, sifting soil, planting, watering, etc.,) help preparing the Airbnb, and general house work. Stays from 1-3 weeks are best, with potential for long term stays if everyone is happy. No smoking inside our home, if you do smoke cigarettes, you must dispose of your butts properly, if litter is in our yard then litter is in our well and in the lake.

*Note* Our dog is a small rescue dog, he is weary of some men, but after meeting you, he will likely be fine, if you let him approach you first.

Logistics: We are native English speakers and were ESL teachers abroad for many years. Ben speaks some French and Kara speaks some Spanish. We would love to expand those skills if you can help! We expect that helpers have a strong grasp of English so that tasks and jobs are understood; we hope you will feel comfortable asking questions if things are unclear. Having your own vehicle will be easiest because in the US there isn't much public transportation, however, we of course will pick you up from the nearest bus/train station (about an hour away).

We are excited to meet a variety of people, to share and learn from each other, to share with you what we have to offer, and to make lasting friendships. We would love to learn about you and what you are expecting from the stay so that we can have clear communication with each other, your needs are just as important as ours.

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