BEFORE FURTHER READING:
Please check the calendar on our profile to see the hosting availability, before you send me a message or an email, thanks! We don’t host more than 8 volunteers at the same time. I want to spend enough time to get to know you better, to be able to answer your questions and to follow your work.
A minimum stay of 2 weeks is preferred. We believe that 2 weeks is the minimum amount of time for volunteers who wish to know the different aspects of the farm, the local society and the Chinese culture. And logically, this farm is not a hostel for a short stay.
On our Farm we follow a philosophy that we like to share with volunteers, the following quote describes this philosophy well, but of course, we would like to show you how we bring this into reality.
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” - Henry David Thoreau, Walden. -
Hi, my name is Lin, I am the volunteer manager of the farm. After graduating from university, I decided to live and work on my uncle's farm, since I have always enjoyed my summer and winter holidays here. Now I am the coordinator of the volunteer and internship project.
For hundreds of years, my family cultivated a small plot of land on top of a hill. Since 2005 my uncle became passionate to bring our small family farm to the next level. We have expanded the farm since then and more importantly, we did this by following more and more natural principles. In 2010 we expanded for the last time our pig facilities, and now we focus a lot on reforestation, improvement of infrastructure, education, eco-tourism and sharing our vision. We believe that harmony between humanity and nature is the key to realize sustainable development of both agriculture and the human society. We set a goal to recycle all resources from the farm and give back to the environment to create a healthy and happy ecosystem.
Our family farm is located in Jiuling town, half an hour drive from Mianyang city, Sichuan province, China. The farm includes more than 300 hectares; we raise more than 5000 pigs, 2000 chickens, and cultivate a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. In addition, we employ more than 100 local workers, who help us in the transformation from an industrial farm to an ecological farm. The farm is transforming very quickly at the moment. While some projects are developing on a daily basis, some other projects are still being designed. In 2018 we start with eco-tourism on the farm: we wish this farm to be a place where people from the city can get close to nature and realize how important it is to respect it. At the moment two buildings are under construction; but after these, we won’t build anything with concrete anymore, as we want to be more and more ecological. This is also another reason why we want volunteers from all around the world to exchange with us their way of living and working with ecological principles.
So what exactly do we wish this place to be?
We wish for the farm to be a place where me and my family try our best to improve the quality of farming, a place where everyone can learn from nature and respect it, a window through which people from other countries can come to know more about this country from a different perspective, a place where cultures, ideas and thoughts meet! In order to achieve these goals, we host volunteers. For volunteers, to share their thoughts about our farm and help us to improve it in their own way.
We are truly happy to host volunteers every year from different parts of the world. We want to show every volunteer the Chinese way of living and create an environment where they feel part of our family. we are looking forward to exchanging ideas and culture with each other and creating a long-term friendship :)
We believe the motivation should come from inside you. That’s why we won’t rush you or force you to do any work. We think that if you come to this farm in the countryside of Sichuan, it’s to learn Chinese traditions and farming methods, help us with your knowledge or imagination, and spend time with our family. That’s why this farm is also called “Freedom Farm” among volunteers, as you would be free to do anything you want.
We hope you’ll feel home in our family and that you’ll enjoy spending time here with us.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested in joining us!
Babysitting / child care
Cooking / shopping
Help with Eco project
Help in the house
Helping with Tourists
Help with Computers / internet
The farm offers a wide variety of infrastructure designed for sports. And next to that, we regularly organize trips in the neighborhood or a dinner in the city.
- Table tennis
- Pizza party
- Movie night
- Hotpot dinner
Over the years we built up a tradition for new volunteers to make a presentation about themselves. In this presentation you share your own background, your study, profession, your country etcetera. This is both for the family and other volunteers to learn about the culture.
There is a lot to do on our farm, and you can choose to try any kind of task. Just feel free to let me know what you want to try.
There are four types of volunteering you could do.
(1) Maintenance Tasks
Everyday maintenance jobs are needed to be done. For example:
- Cleaning the common areas
- Trash hunting (collect garbage which cannot be composted in the soils)
- Sometimes cooking dinner for all the volunteers and members of the family
- Gardening jobs: watering flowers and lawns, weeding…
- And a lot of other tasks!
(2) Creative projects
You have a special skill that can be useful for the farm. For example:
- website programming
- carpenters and wood workers, iron workers…
- permaculture building and design
- artists (painters, musicians, photographers...!)
If you think you have a special skill like these ones, you can tell me about it and we can organize a special project for you. For example, our website has been made by volunteers and several houses on the farm have been designed by volunteers as well.
You’re also very welcome to take your time in the farm to spot the things that can be improved, according to you, or things that you think you could make yourself. For example, volunteers built some furniture in the volunteer house because they wanted to have more space to put their belongings; another volunteer built a pizza oven made with clay…
You are also free to do anything you want to make the farm more beautiful: paintings, nice structures, re-use old stuffs to make them pretty…
(3) Volunteering with the workers
We have a lot of workers who work every day at the farm. Volunteers have the opportunity to learn about animal care and traditional farming methods and food producing. The kinds of things you can learn depend of the season. For example:
- Spring: Gardening work, taking care of the vineyard, vegetables and fruit trees planting…
- Summer: grapes harvesting, wine making…
- Autumn: sweet potatoes and pumpkins harvesting, sweet potato noodles making…
- Winter: sausages and beacon making…
You also can spend time with the pig keepers and learn how to take care of the pigs, take the goats into the mountains for a day, help the chefs in the canteen to learn how to cook Chinese food, or help with the builders to learn about construction…
If you want to volunteer with the workers, feel free to come to me and I will organize your help days with the local workers.
(4) Educational project
During the past years of trying to run this farm in a more and more ecological and organic way, we think this could be a place for children to get close to nature and to let them learn about both nature and farming. This brought us to the idea of starting an education project. We are in the first stage of this project and the influence of volunteers can make a big difference, so volunteers who have teaching skills or just simply like kids can choose to help with this project.
Either you come to the farm with a very accurate idea of what you want to do and learn, or you want to try several jobs and find what you like most. If you don’t have an accurate idea when you arrive, you can start with maintenance help, while thinking about what could be improved according to you, or something you could do yourself. If you don’t want to have your own project, it’s also okay, and you can carry on with maintenance help or help other volunteers who are working with their projects. From work in the office to practical work outside, the farm has a lot of space for you to apply your skills and to learn at the same time.
Next to volunteers, the farm also accepts interns from a wide variety of majors. The main internships we offer are in agriculture, ecology, floriculture, graphic design, marketing, hospitality and pedagogy. But feel free to contact us for any other major, as there are so many possibilities at our company.
Chinese Mandarin , Sichuan dialect, English
As a volunteer you will experience the old traditional way of living in our straw house. Although it sounds primitive, it is actually quite a comfortable and cozy place. Besides that, you are free to make it to your own comfort. You will find their drawings, photos and art work for example.
When you exit the straw house, you find an amazing view over a pond with on the other side a beautiful wooden hut and an impressive guest house. Next to the house, volunteers made an area to relax when the weather allows it.
A bigger volunteer house is being built at the moment and hopefully it will be finished at the end 2018. But until then, be ready to share the cozy straw house with the 2 bedrooms (4 beds/room) and a living room.
Furthermore, we have a computer, fax, a scanner, and a printer on the farm which can all be used by the volunteers.
You would primarily enjoy your meals in the canteen where volunteers, family members and workers enjoy their meals cooked by two Chinese chefs. When the opportunity arises, volunteers together with our family will eat together in the family kitchen. And of course, if you would like to learn some Chinese cooking skills, you are more than welcome to join my mum when she cooks for us - she is a very good cook!
What else ...
As your host, we will cover all the basic costs during your stay. Accommodation, food and the use of all the facilities on the farm. But also whenever we go out to visit something, we cover you financially. The only rule we apply is to have respect for the materials and other people. And also be aware that we are responsible for your safety in and around the farm.
I highly agree with the opinion on workaway.info's webpage, stating that "Workaway.info is NOT set up to provide cheap labor." No, we do not consider the relationship between the volunteers and my family as a regular employment with just accommodation/food in return. We see our volunteers as a part of our family, we work and live together on the farm, and we hope that the volunteers will feel like they are a part of the farm and our family.
The average volunteering hours are minimum 4h per day: if we all take a day off for a trip around or if you choose to take a day off, you will make it up the day before or after. Volunteers can choose any day off if you have some other plans like buying tickets, visa arrangements or going on your own trips, etc. We can arrange visa extensions with the local government if needed.
If you would like to come in winter, make sure you bring enough clothes with you. For summer we recommend you to bring thin clothes with you that cover most of the skin. If you are planning to do a lot of practical work, it might be good to bring working clothes along.
If you are planning to stay at the farm up to one month, a tourist (L) visa is enough. For longer stays we recommend you to apply for the exchange (F) visa.
THE TRAFFIC TO OUR FARM:
For an international flight, Chengdu international airport is the best choice since that is the nearest international airport to our place. You need to take a train from Chengdu to Mianyang city (18 yuan for normal; 54 yuan for fast train), then take number 60 city bus (2 yuan) and get off at its final stop, which is a big bus station in Mianyang called Ping Zhen. Then buy a ticket to Jiuling town (7 yuan) and call me/send me a message when you’re in Jiuling so that I can pick you up.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
No less than 20 hours per week