We welcome volunteers to work on the agroforestry farm in exchange for bed, board and a little learning.
The people who get most out of coming to stay and work with us are those who already have experience of outdoor work, farming and/or horticulture and who are keen to learn more about organic agroforestry (and sowing the seeds of a more healthy and sustainable livelihood).
Some volunteers are on a journey (often both geographically and metaphorically) and travel to stay with us for one or two weeks. Occasionally, those who live more locally come for repeat visits, staying for a day or two to help with a particular task.
Volunteering here works well for a couple of partners or friends who enjoy each other’s company and like to cook for themselves, using the organic, fresh, local food that we will provide. It is likely to be too quiet and lonely for a volunteer on his or her own.
We live in the farmhouse, where we hold Bread Matters courses and also work on the non-profit Scotland The Bread. Our farm of two hectares is in its eighth season of organic agroforestry. Andrew will give you instruction in any jobs we ask you to do. Emma works part-time for us, both in the Bread Matters office and on the farm, so you will probably do some tasks alongside her.
You can find out more about us and our work, here.
Farm volunteers stay in our quirky little caravan, which is tucked behind the barn, overlooking the fields and hills. Refurbished in 2017 and lined in wood, the caravan is now a warm and interesting double bedroom, with a heater, good lighting, storage and hanging space. The double bed has a new mattress, feather duvet and pillows and organic bed linen. There is the option of a second, less-luxurious bed, formed by extending the seating area (shown below) and using the two long mattress/cushions.
The caravan no longer has washing or cooking facilities; those are all in the barn where there is a fully-equipped kitchen and a large, heated bathroom with a shower, wash basin and compost toilet.
The food we grow and buy is all organic.
We eat a healthy diet of vegetables, fruit, pulses and grains, along with eggs, some dairy foods and a small amount of meat (mostly local lamb). And, of course, sourdough bread made by Andrew. We will provide the same for you, whether you are cooking for yourselves or having the occasional lunch or supper with us in the farmhouse.
If you like to eat a variety of real, unprocessed food, you’ll enjoy it here. For example, for breakfast there might be porridge, muesli, our home-made granola, fruit, eggs, bread… there will not be breakfast cereal from a packet.
Please tell us about any special dietary requirements you have on the enquiry form.
As with all small-scale farming, much of the hard physical work has to be done regardless of the weather. You need to be up to that, so please don't volunteer with us unless you are ready to get wet, cold, muddy, windswept and hot all in the same morning.
We are not going to raise any geese in 2017 so this will be a ‘stockless’ year, without animals. We grow as much of our own food, mainly vegetables and fruit, as we are able to; and a large number of cereal varieties. Some of the farm work is in the cereal growing that is part of a programme of research for Scotland The Bread, which can mean taking extra care and paying attention to detail.
Please read the list of dates and the work we are likely to need help with before you complete the enquiry form.
You can get in touch by email or ‘phone 01968 660449 if you have any questions.
3 April to 5 May
15 May to 12 June
1 July to 9 July
24 July to 1 September
11 September to 30 September
9 October to 30 October
Likely tasks in April and May
planting out trees
weeding and mulching (with starw/hay or black plastic)
clearing vegetable plot and rotavating with our BCS 740 2-wheel tractor
planting seed potatoes and vegetables, clover-rich grass leys and green manures (e.g. buckwheat & lupins)
cleaning of last year’s Scotland The Bread cereal seeds, and re-sowing
Likely tasks in June, July and August
grass cutting with a flail mower on the BCS or with the reciprocating scythe and hay turner attachments
weeding fruit, vegetables and winter & spring Scotland The Bread cereals
turning compost and building compost heaps
Likely tasks in September and October
harvesting soft fruit
harvesting Scotland The Bread cereals (threshing if the weather is dry)
ground preparation and seed preparation
sowing winter cereals
What's it like volunteering at Bread Matters?‘
‘I could hardly have imagined a better Host for my first HelpX experience. Andrew and Veronica are a very warm couple who absolutely welcomed me into their home. From the beginning, we had stimulating conversations about life, reading, religion, Radio 4, bread vs not-bread, organic, Fair Trade, family… community business models, and the delights and challenges of the small holding, to name a few.
‘I slept in a very comfortable bedroom...I enjoyed the combination of independence and being together. The delicious food was organic, mostly grown on the smallholding, and prepared with care. It was easy to get involved...I felt comfortable from the start.
‘My jobs were varied… I spent most time in the polytunnel: weeding, thinning carrots, removing side shoots from the tomatoes, pinching out the tops of beans, weeding walkways and filling them with bark to help manage the weeds. I was in heaven, listening to Radio 4, and stopping from time to time to chat with three ducklings snuggling at one end of the tunnel.
‘With so much rain, there were weeds everywhere and I wish I could have stayed longer to clear around the hundreds of young trees and agroforestry area. Andrew and Veronica were always ready to talk to me about any aspect of the smallholding, and I only wish I'd had longer to learn about everything.‘I enjoyed a few country walks in the immediate environment, which is quiet and beautiful.‘Thank you so much for having me, Andrew and Veronica.’
[Alison, Summer 2012, via HelpX, from Australia]
The view from the caravan at dusk, February 2017
Emma joined us as a WWOOFer in November 2013 and returned in January 2014. She said:
‘Volunteering at Bread Matters revolves around the small holding and not bread baking, but you will have the opportunity to eat a variety of delicious breads, which is really the best bit. If you are interested in learning about organic growing and smallholding and willing to put in some hard graft, then this is the place for you. Veronica and Andrew are both very knowledgeable and passionate about good, nutritious, local food and in return for all your hard work you will be treated to exactly that with the added bonus of (as we say in Scotland) 'quality chat'.
‘Andrew and Veronica are great hosts - welcoming, friendly and good company. I have loved volunteering here - I've learned so much, eaten very well, enjoyed the outdoors and the physical work - and felt that my efforts were very much appreciated.’
Sunset and swans on the pond February 2017
Samia was here at one of the very toughest times of year, in December 2013, in time to help with plucking and preparing geese. It’s not a job for the delicate or squeamish and Samia described it as ‘full time and very labour intensive, but definitely enjoyable thanks to the good company’. Samia just about summed us up here:
‘Although it was just a short stay, I had a very good experience with Andrew and Veronica. The food was some of the best I’ve ever had from a host! …Things are very organised with them, so it works well if you like a lot of structure, but if not, you might find it hard. They are very kind though, and it was easy to get along with them.’Nearly decided? Now please tell us about yourself by replying to this enquiry form.