This week we focus on farming in Ireland. We had the pleasure of interviewing one of HelpStay’s most highly recognized hosts John Grisewood!
About the interview…
In this interview John shares a bit about his hosting style, farming in Ireland and anecdotes for aspiring Helpers. Interested in volunteering abroad in Ireland? John is your guy.
Tell us a bit about your Stay. (Where is it located? What is the organization called? Why does it exist?)
Our stay is at Crokers Farm in Limerick, Ireland. We are a husband and wife team with our son developing an alternative use of our farm. We are now both retired teachers and our son has returned home from abroad and plans to take over the family farm soon. We are trying to help him continue leading and grow what we have started here.
Farming in Ireland and a love of teaching…
We have a small farm, but because of our love for teaching, have developed an English Language school with residence on the farm where we teach English to foreign students during the summer months. We also have an Airsoft site on the farm which we have fun on every Saturday.
Along with this, we have also developed a market, garden, bee farm, food forest, sauna business and events hall for celebrations and parties. We also work with local homeless charities offering gardening projects, lessons and a friendly cup of tea every week to the less fortunate.
What duties are expected of the Helpers when Farming in Ireland? Do you think these are challenging tasks?
Our helpers are from all over the world and are fantastic! We work with our Helpers from 9:30 in the morning until 430 in the evening 5 days a week with breaks for coffee, lunch and chats in between. We look for native English speakers, cooks, and athletic people in the summer months to support our team.
During the rest of the year, we offer positions to people with interest in outdoor work such as gardening, planting, weeding, sowing crops and many other building and maintenance jobs around the farm.
We look for happy, “willing to give it a go” people who are ready to learn new skills and practice to improve on them and their English if needed.
We work side by side with people showing and explaining skills, and having great discussions as we complete our projects.
What do you think makes a great Host? A great Helper?
A great HelpStay host is someone who is genuinely interested in all those who come to work with him. He is someone who gives time to listen and tell stories, has jokes, teaches new skills, and speaks slowly for Helpers to understand.
A good Host doesn’t ask someone to do something too difficult for them. They should offer to show local traditions or view local cultural experiences such as sports, music, dance, or local scenery.
And a great Helper…
A great Helper is a good match for the host. They’re expected to have some of the skills that the Host requires or would like.
Hosts are delighted when a volunteer actually reads what the host is looking for and tries to help in that area. Otherwise, someone with a positive attitude with a can-do attitude is great!
What would you say is your Hosting style? Do you interact with the Helpers much?
My style is to make every task easy, enjoyable, and short. We try to do different tasks each day. We like to show people what we will do by demonstration then let the volunteer try it and then offer assistance if needed.
We work like a team and try and give lots of positive encouragement throughout the day.
Can you tell us a funny story or a good memory with your Helpers?
Too many to count. We have been invited to 2 weddings from volunteers who met at the farm. We have volunteers who have come back several times and are like part of the family. We have helped get jobs for people who did not want to leave Ireland.
We have been so inspired by the people who work with us and gave us great ideas for the farm.
What is your favorite part thing about being a HelpStay host?
My favorite part of being a Host is the conversations we have with our Helpers from all over the world. Meeting new people who are willing to help you and have never met you before is absolutely amazing.
About John Grisewood
John Grisewood runs a farm and an English Language School in Limerick, on the West of Ireland. He and his wife are retired school teachers. He spends his days having fun and working on the farm with Helpers from all over the world. John is a hard worker, yet easy going and a true vision of Irish hospitality.
John’s farm is located approx. 30 miles from Shannon International Airport which has direct daily flights from the US and most major European cities. If interested in this Stay and prior arranged – John will meet, greet and pick you up at Shannon airport.
Before you go…
We always recommend that you have adequate travel insurance in place before you travel overseas. For more details on living and staying in Ireland, check out the Ireland’s’ Citizens Information resource.