Help tackle invasive species at our home in the Redwood Forest, Ben Lomond, USA


United States

Favourited 68 times

  • rating

    Host rating

  • feedbacks



  • last activity

    Last activity


  • Last email replied

    Reply rate

    100.0 %

  • Last email replied

    Average reply time:

    within 1 day

  • Description


    Matt and Ariel live with our 3 cats and one small dog in a small home on an acre of redwood forest in Ben Lomond, CA. Our house is nestled on a steep hill among the redwood trees, and the land has been overrun by an invasive species - English Ivy - so the focus of our workaway is getting rid of the ivy! Ben Lomond is a lovely little mountain town, with typically great California weather. Wikipedia says that "August is the warmest month with a normal maximum of 85.5 °F (29.7 °C) and a normal minimum of 50.4 °F (10.2 °C)." Ariel works (usually from home) 40-hrs a week as a software engineer, teaches yoga, and is learning to speak Spanish and play Irish fiddle in her spare time. Matt works on projects around the house when he's not at work. Our grown kids visit from time to time (they are 24, 21 and 21) but otherwise it's pretty quite around our house.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Language practice
    DIY and building projects
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    General Maintenance

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    We are excited about sharing with workawayers the unique environment in which we live. While engaging in the work of clearing invasive species off our land, our guests will learn about the redwood forest ecosystem and learn to identify the many interesting native species that inhabit our forest. Our home is surrounded by redwoods (sequoia sempervirens) – trees which grow bigger than many people have ever seen in their lives. The trees around our house are less than 100 years old - just babies - so we will be sure to to take our visitors to Big Basin, where you can walk among trees that are thousands of years old. If they want to see more of the local flora and fauna, there are many opportunities for hiking in the woods near us, and we are not far from Santa Cruz, a beach city on the Monterey Bay, which is a National Marine Sanctuary with many opportunities for surfing, scuba diving, sea kayaking, and sailing. Santa Cruz also offers the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, museums, art galleries, musical venues, and many restaurants. We would also love to bring our workawayers to Elkhorn Slough to kayak (close encounters with egrets, harbor seals, sea lions, and sea otters!) Other travel opportunities exist since we're about 128km (80mi) from San Francisco and 128km (80mi) from Big Sur, a region that has numerous state parks, beautiful coastline, and lots of hiking trails. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Since we don't have opportunity to travel ourselves at this time, we hope hosting workawayers will bring the world to our doorstep! We look forward to learning about the cultures of our visitors. Ariel would love to exchange cooking techniques with any guest - she'd be happy to teach how to cook our regular foods and learn how to make their favorites! We'd be *especially* excited to have guests who speak Spanish, since Ariel is learning that language and would appreciate the opportunity to practice speaking with anyone with any level of Spanish!

  • Projects involving children

    Projects involving children

    This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.

  • Help


    We are looking for 1 to 2 helpers (maximum of two people!) to remove invasive species from our 1-acre property. The main plant to be eradicated is common English ivy, but on some parts of the land it is mixed in with poison oak. If you know you are allergic to poison oak (or its cousin poison ivy), or know you are sensitive to plant irritants, this is not the workaway for you! Also, the terrain is steep, and it can be hot and dirty task.

    Since pulling ivy 4 hours a day, 5 days a week is really hard work and can get tedious, when there are other tasks available, you will be welcome to substitute 5-10 hours a week pitching in in other ways such as cleaning the shared bathroom, general housekeeping, taking a turn cooking dinner for everyone, interior or exterior painting (if you have experience), gardening or landscaping, walking the dog, making improvements to the camping area, or trail-building if you have that skill. If you speak Spanish, I would gladly trade 30-minutes a day of practicing speaking Spanish! From time to time, you might also be invited to go up the mountain with Matt up to the source of our water to flush sediment out of the settling tank, shovel sand out of the creek pickup, or make improvements to our make-shift dam on the creek.

    We ask for 20 hours help per week in exchange for room and board. Generally we would like you to help from 10am-2pm weekdays, but there is a great deal of flexibility around the hours. You MUST be able to work completely independently based on general directions – you will be doing tasks alone most - if not all - of the time. Since we are looking primarily for outdoor help, rainy days will usually be free holidays!

    We are looking for volunteers with:
    - common sense
    - concern for the environment and interest in land stewardship
    - the ability to complete tasks alone with generalized directions
    - willingness to carry out tasks to the best of their ability
    - ability to correctly identify plants after instruction on the types of plants to be removed

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    Spanish: Beginner

    This host offers a language exchange
    I have a deep desire to become fluent in Spanish, so I would be delighted to host a Spanish speaker.

  • Accommodation


    We are offering two options for lodging, a small cabin or a tent platform. Both of these options will use the bathroom in the main house. You will have access two shared (all sexes) bathrooms in the house each of which has a shower, toilet, and sink. You will have access to a shared laundry facility (washer and dryer) which can be used between the hours of 9am – 9pm daily. There are also two outdoor bathtubs with varying degrees of privacy. Alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana use are allowed, but not encouraged, and are NOT allowed inside the house, NOT inside the cabin, and NOT on or around the camping platform (because of the risk of wildfire.) If you are discrete, you may choose to consume alcohol occasionally in your sleeping area, but only strictly outside working hours.

    THE CABIN: Able to accommodate 1-2 people and separate from our main house is our cute a little cabin in which there is a full-sized futon that can be used as a sofa or a bed, and a loft with a full-sized futon. The cabin also has a table, two chests of drawers, TV and internet access and a wee kitchenette with a tiny refrigerator, toaster oven, electric tea kettle, and a hotplate. The cabin is down one flight of stairs from the main house. There is **NO SMOKING** of any kind allowed inside the cabin. Our home is in an area with high danger of wildfires (over 85,000 acres burned here in our mountains in a wildfire summer of 2020 and the fire perimeter was just a few miles from our house) thus there is also **NO SMOKING** allowed on the porch of the cabin. There is an area near the main house or in the parking area designated for smoking.

    THE TENT PLATFORM: About 75 feet up the hill from our house, we have a platform on which you can pitch a tent. With advance arrangement, we can provide tent, pad and sleeping bag. The camping platform is visually private and has a view of trees all around, but you can hear cars on the two-lane highway that is a quarter mile below our property. There is electricity by the tent platform where you can charge your electronic devices or plug in some lighting (getting that all set up nice is one of the things on Ariel's wish-list of campsite improvements!) and there is limited WIFI signal. Our home is in an area with high danger of wildfires (over 85,000 acres burned here in our mountains in a wildfire summer of 2020 and the fire perimeter was just a few miles from our house) so there is **NO SMOKING** OF ANY KIND IN THE CAMPING AREA. NO candles, NO camping stoves, NO flames of any kind are allowed in the camping area. There is an area near the house or in the parking area designated for smoking.

    Food is provided, though often you will need to cook for yourself, as we don't currently have a regular schedule of organized family meals. Ariel is hoping the presence of workawayers will inspire the cooking of more family-style meals! We keep the kitchen stocked with staples of our diet - such as eggs, milk, cheese, homemade milk kefir, cereal, oatmeal, dried fruits and nuts, lunch meat, peanut and other nut butters, bread, beans, pasta, rice, ramen, corn chips, homemade salsa, homemade kombucha, frozen salmon, fresh greens, in-season fruits. If you want to help Ariel with the grocery shopping, then you can have a big influence on what is available to cook! You may also choose to bring your own food into the house, and we will set aside some shelf space and refrigerator space for you. You are expected to wash all of your own dishes on a daily basis, and clean up after yourself when you use the kitchen.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Due to Coronavirus, some of the things described below are not open. Due to the big fire in 2020, as of this writing Big Basin is closed. We hope part of it will open back up again soon.

    We are walking distance to a bakery, a grocery store, a coffee shop, an awesome yoga studio (where Ariel sometimes teaches), a community theater, a tiny library, three restaurants, and a bus stop, from which a 45 minute ride will get you to Santa Cruz. The bus stop is down hill from our house, about 3-minutes to walk there, 8 minutes to walk back up (depends on your fitness level!) Unfortunately as of this writing, there is no bus service to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, but we can help arrange a ride there, and if you decide to hike Big Basin to the Sea one weekend, Ariel will pick you up down at the beach (or she might want to come with you and let Matt pick us all up!) Some of the very-near-by attractions include Loch Lomond, a reservoir around which you can hike or rent boats to boat around in (no swimming) and a small island where you can have a picnic lunch; Fall Creek and Henry Cowell, two state parks with some nice hiking, picnic areas, big redwood trees, and some riverside beaches where you can take a dip in the San Lorenzo River; Roaring Camp Redwoods, a local park with narrow-gauge railroad (steam trains!) where you can hike, picnic, or even ride the train all the way down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (an amusement park with roller coasters and other rides as well as a big arcade); a lesser known attraction near by is the Bigfoot Discovery Museum, that's a fun place to visit to learn about Big Foot lore. In Felton there are several restaurants, including the Felton Music Hall which has performances (a mix of many generes including local bands and internationally renowned artists.) We are also a few hours drive away from other famous places in California such as San Francisco, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Mount Shasta, Napa Valley.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 945568716937