Our 17th century farmhouse is home to Piers, Sue, three young people aged 18-22 (two are away at university), two house cats and a small, very friendly dog. Our stay length is two, occasionally three, weeks. We are now looking for help in October and November.
We offer helpxers comfortable accommodation in a prime tourist area, excellent food and a genuine welcome, in return for a fair level of physical work. It's a great opportunity for people who are keen to stay in a family environment and learn stuff about country living. We usually take helpxers one at a time; sometimes we have two people here.
Our home is within sight of the sea in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are shingle beaches to walk to and steep-sided sandy coves easily reachable by bike (although the roads are hilly!). South Devon is an enormously popular tourist destination from Easter to October, when it earns its reputation as the sunniest part of England.
We moved here seven years ago and have established a multi-award-winning business running stylish, comfortable self-catering holiday cottages. We live on site in the main farmhouse, where we accommodate helpxers in cosy, clean guest rooms. There is unrestricted internet access, and you can have your own TV if you like to watch.
We don't use helpxers for the routine cleaning and maintenance of the holiday cottages - we have permanent local staff for that. Instead, you help with jobs around the farmstead, mainly gardening and painting. We keep chickens and ducks, a few pigs and a small flock of sheep, a dressage horse and a (retired) pony, which means you should also be willing to assist with cleaning out the animal housing if required. We are happy to let you help with feeding and handling animals if you want to learn, but please don't picture yourself working with animals all day.
We expect about 25 hours of work in return for a week of bed and full board. Most people have preferred to work mornings Monday to Saturday, leaving them with the afternoons to hang out and do their own thing, go exploring, or whatever. (The review from Jule says that she and her sister opted to help in the afternoons as well - we feel it's important to emphasise that they did this because they were really enjoying what they were doing. We absolutely don't expect anyone to work all the time!) You must be ready to work on your own some of the time; we don't ask you to do anything we aren't willing to do ourselves.
Digging, weeding and mucking-out is hard work, so we need people who are reasonably fit and strong. You should bring your own outdoor clothes, some of which need to be warm (even in summer). We have a selection of rubber boots, but you need your own stout shoes and almost certainly a waterproof! We sometimes have to work outside when it is raining and you must not mind getting dirty.
We like having visitors, and invite them to eat all meals with us in the comfortable farmhouse kitchen. We enjoy a diverse range of ingredients, including our own lamb, pork and bacon. Meals are important social occasions, so being an adaptable and enthusiastic eater is essential for a stay here! Foreign language speakers are very welcome, and we can help with improving your English - French, Italian and German are all spoken fluently here. (We voted to remain in the European Union.) Sue is a painter, while Piers and the children are musicians. We have a decent piano and a selection of other instruments.
In your free time, you may like to explore the surrounding country, which is well worth the effort. There are beautiful coastal walks and we have good maps to lend you. There is also a bicycle you could borrow.
The wider area of South Devon has many sights and attractions. The sailing port of Dartmouth is about 15km and the market town of Kingsbridge is about 8km. If we are going anywhere interesting by car, we can usually give you a lift. In addition,local public transport provides better opportunities for independent travel than in many rural areas (and we will take you to the bus stop). A regular bus service from Chillington (1.5km) runs to Kingsbridge and all the villages in between. From Kingsbridge, the same bus goes directly through to Plymouth, which is our nearest city. Totnes, the administrative centre of this part of Devon, is about 25 km and can also be reached by bus via Kingsbridge. Totnes is an interesting and slightly alternative place that has a direct rail link to Cornwall, or London and beyond.
In summary, we like our helpxers to have a good time and try our best to make this a high value experience for both parties. We offer just a few spaces each year but, if you are hard-working, adaptable and practical, we would love to host you.
We like the first contact to be written - i.e e-mail, not phone call or text. And please make it a personal e-mail that shows you have read and thought about our profile!
We have a positive and welcoming attitude towards young people and we appreciate that everyone starts with little experience. However, we expect your application to provide evidence that you are able to make a useful work contribution in return for our hospitality. You need to tell us about things you have done that show you are hard-working and quick to learn at practical jobs like painting, gardening, building or farming. Please support your application with at least one reference (recommendation) from someone you have worked for - possibly a previous work exchange host, perhaps a current or past employer, or even a teacher from school or university.
One final point: in the last year, we have begun to get a lot of applications from families. We love children, but this opportunity is not suitable for them.