On February 9, 2022, the Swedish Public Health Authority announced that the pandemic was no longer considered a pandemic in Sweden.
Unfortunately, Russia chose to invade Ukraine in a full-scale war on February 24 of the same year. Our thoughts go out to those who live and die in the full-scale war that is pulverizing their country. WWOOF Sweden is indirectly affected by the war in different ways. Partly because Ukrainian refugees turn to W to find contacts here and try to start their lives over. Contradictorily enough, we have also had a Russian family who chose to flee their country and found their way to W to avoid being drawn into a war they do not want to contribute to. Swedish food production has also become a bigger issue; the war in Ukraine has emphasized the importance of local food production more than usual and has become yet another reason for people to learn to farm and become more self-sufficient. Preparedness in all its forms has now become a key word that no one looks down on in today’s society. Ukraine has been called the world’s grain store and one of the world’s largest grain exporters, which also affects prices in grocery stores and how customers choose between organic and non-organic food.
Then another tragedy: we lost the farm host and the association’s secretary for many years, Stefan Hörberg, who was the farm host for 9 years. He had a low-key, neutral way of dealing with conflict, always trying to hear different perspectives with an open mind. We miss him both as a lovely person, farm manager and as a board member. Lauren and Jandi attended his funeral and the board contributed a bouquet of flowers. The priest brought up Stefan’s involvement through WWOOF at the actual funeral and his love for sharing his knowledge as a farmer on his farm Sagolika Höö outside Älmhult.
During the year, we received a number of complaints about both farm hosts and volunteers, which we have since investigated and made decisions about. In some cases we have excluded members, even those who have been with us for a long time, because it is important for us to maintain the standard in accordance with the W Charter (The W charter).
New for the year is that Jandi has started holding webinars twice a month, which has been appreciated. He talks about his own experience as a WWOOFer and farm host and answers as best he can to questions that the audience has raised.
We also had a photo and video competition where this year’s WWOOFers could submit their favorite photos from their time as WWOOFers. A total of 115 entries came in and then Benjamin Poncet was voted together with 9 other winners as the winner of the competition by allowing everyone in the WWOOF community to vote on their favorite picture. Benjamin’s pictures have been posted in WWOOF’s instagram and one of the videos filmed by Melody Chanal from Belgium can be seen on the wwoof.se front page in the youtube video section. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaxCUXihIcE&t=84s
We also have a new website which is now shared by over 104 WWOOF countries. Recently, FoWO also hired another programmer (whose first name is Cash) who now works from California together with Pedro in France. Thus, over 12,000 farm hosts use the same functions as us in Sweden and over 80,000 WWOOFers use the same website as the WWOOFers in Sweden. Some large and popular WWOOF countries countries (Australia, India and Japan) do not use FoWO’s website but continue successfully as before with their own systems.
It was also a year filled, as usual, with positive WWOOF experiences. Volunteers have had a taste of life on a farm, and for some it has meant finding what they want to do with their lives. Others have traveled, experienced another culture, met friends for life, and eaten very good food. And farm hosts have grown lots, tested new farming methods, received company from all over the world, and learned from the volunteers’ knowledge, ideas and experiences shared.
We on the board met once at the chairman’s place, where we happily shared our life stories, ate good food from each other’s farms, and got to know each other a little better. Even the chairman’s newborn baby had a lot to say :=)
We have made it through yet another financial crisis, but without any comfortable margin of safety. Therefore, a topic of discussion has been how we can have a more secure financial situation, and it will continue to be a point going forward.
Now spring is here again; the snow melts and it turns green in the greenhouses. We have another growing year ahead of us, and also a lot of societal challenges to deal with. But we hope, as usual, that our association will promote the joy of cultivation and knowledge of growing, understanding of different cultures, life’s destinies and more community and well-being in the coming year.
Lauren, Jandi and the board