Vrede Rust Volunteering Guide
The fact that you’re reading this means you are planning (or may have already decided) to Workaway or WWOOF with us. This page highlights some of the history of the house, the surroundings and some of the ways we go about things at Vrede Rust.
Muiden and its Surroundings
Muiden is a town situated about 10 kilometers East of Amsterdam. It was granted city rights in the Middle Ages but really, it’s only a town and has about 6.000 inhabitants. It’s a historic town though, dating to before the existence of Amsterdam. In the Dutch Golden Age (17th century) many towns dotting the shore of what’s now the Markermeer competed for the title of Holland’s trading capital. Amsterdam won and that’s why neighbouring towns, such as Muiden always remained small.
The surroundings are characterised by grassland, polders and a lake called the Markermeer. Towns such as Weesp and Muiderberg are close by and Amsterdam is also within reach, either by bike (45 – 60 minutes) or bus (approx. 30 minutes).
The Polder and the Castle
You may or may not know that more than a quarter of The Netherlands is situated below sea level and that 59% of the country is at risk when flooding occurs. Don’t let this scare you away; we’re pretty good at building dikes and keeping out the water. The 26% of land below sea level were in fact reclaimed over the course of the past 5 or 6 centuries. People started building dikes (masses of land slightly elevated about the sea) and put windmills on them. These wind-propelled pumps helped get the water out of the newly created lake and the land that had been reclaimed was left to dry for a few years. We call a piece of reclaimed land a polder.
We live in such a polder and this means in Winter and Spring the soil can (and will) be rather soggy. We will provide for rubber boots, but if you have sturdy shoes that can stand a bit of moist in the soil, please do bring them!
The specific polder we’re in is called the Noordpolder (North Polder) and it’s very close to the Muiderslot (or Amsterdam Castle as some call it). This means we are not allowed to plant any trees majority of our land (we wouldn’t want an enemy approaching to hide behind a tree and start shooting the castle, would we?). This No trees means plenty of wind. So take some wind-resistant gear as well!
The other consequence of being so close to a castle is that our farm house is mae out of wood for the larger part. This way, in case an enemy approaches the house can be torn down (or set on fire) and no stone structure would be left to hide in. The wooden materials give the house a nice and cozy feel and we like it a lot.
Structure of the Day and Week
Although we have a fair amount of experience working with teams, setting up companies and what not, running a household with two kids a dog and few volunteers is a different beast. We use a blackboard in our kitchen to plan and keep track of work that needs to be done and we try to stick to a regular structure during the day and the week.
The day starts at about 8am when breakfast is served. We take our time to do breakfast and after having cleaned up we start our working day at 9am or a bit later. Coffee or tea along with a snack is ready at around 11am. We have lunch at about 1pm, another afternoon snack at 4pm and dinner is served between 6 and 7pm.
Although we normally ask you do to 4 to 5 hours of work per day for 5 days a week, weather conditions or specific tasks at hand occasionally require us to ask you for a bit of flexibility on this front. As soon as you arrive we will discuss days off as well.
Food and Diets
Although at times we forget, I think it’s safe to say we have a pretty healthy diet here at Vrede Rust. We don’t eat a lot of processed food and always cook from scratch. In our normal diet we do not eat a lot of meat (usually about 1 to 2 times a week max), so catering for and adjusting a vegetarian diet is not a problem at all. Other than the fact that our diet is 100% organic, there are a few additional things to note.
Breakfast is simple, it’s prepared by us at a set time (depending on the season that’s 8.00 or 8.30am) and we usually have porridge, coffee, tea and some fruit. If you prefer yoghurt, that’s also available and if you would like anything else for breakfast, just shout and we’ll see if we can accommodate for it. On Sundays we usually have fluffy pancakes.
Lunch we usually enjoy around 12.30 or 1pm. Depending on what we feel like, we cook a warm lunch (a risotto or a pasta usually) or we have bread and cheese. Our diet is heavy on dairy products (cheese, milk, yoghurt) and as such it’s difficult for us to cater for vegans. On Fridays we usually buy some fresh fish to go with our bread to get some healthy fatty acids in our diet.
On Saturday morning we bake all our bread for the week in our big indoor bread oven. It’s all sourdough and usually has been left to rise for at least 12 to 24 hours. We source our flour from a wind-powered mill located in the small town of Weesp, about 5 minutes by car. Whenever we need more flour, we will take you to it, it’s a great experience.
Dinner is usually served between 6 and 7, depending on how the day progresses and the dishes vary from stir fries to homemade lasagnes and from chili and beans to couscous with vegetables.
In the morning and in the afternoon we have a snack (usually some fruit) and some coffee or tea at around 11am and 3pm or 4pm.
- We order groceries once a week and these are delivered on Saturdays. If you have any requests, just let us know and we’ll try and cater for it
- Because we do not go the supermarket very often, we have to take care not to eat all our groceries on the first day of the week. So whenever you want to grab a snack or a piece of fruit you’re not sure about, please ask
- As said before we can cater for vegetarians, but a vegan diet is hard for us to stick to; we eat a lot of cheese and yoghurt and drink a lot of milk
- This is not a gluten-free household. Although we bake sourdough bread (and sourdough supposedly reduces the effects of gluten in bread) and we usually try to include one form of rye bread in our weekly baking schedule (rye flour doesn’t contain gluten), it is difficult for us to cater for people with a severe gluten intolerance or allergy
- If you’re up for a bit of cooking, you’re more than welcome. Usually Alef does the majority of the cooking in the house, but having people over from other cultures and countries means new recipes and we always like that! We’ll discuss when you arrive.
- Aside from the work we do in our regular schedule, we expect you to help out in the daily chores as well. Doing the dishes, cleaning up a bit here and there, it’s all part of the deal.
Kids & Animals
As you probably have noticed by know, we have two kids called Indi and Jona. We also have a lovely but sometimes rather grumpy 8 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback called Floris. Last but not least there are two cats (but we don’t see them very often) and a bunch of chickens (for now taken care of by a neighbouring farmer).
The kids are at home pretty much full time and this means that Lin is spending a lot of time with them. Work for you will occasionally also include watching the kids. A friend recently gave us a rather accurate definition of a toddler and I can safely say that 2 to 3 year old kids are sometimes pretty intense :-). No don’t worry, they’re wonderful 90% of the time, but we don’t want you to come in thinking that kids will never cry…
The dog needs to be walked occasionally (he’s old, and has grown up as a city dog so doesn’t go out on his own). This one of the nicer treats of living here, there are a few nice walks to be made in the area).
Muiden is located about 10 kilometers East of Amsterdam and public transport is readily available. The bus connection is very frequent and runs from the bus stop on the other side of town (10 minutes walking distance). Bus 320, 322 and 327 all call here and run to Amstel Station. Although this is already in Amsterdam, from Amstel Station the metro takes you in 5 minutes to the centre of the city.
Another option is biking to Amsterdam. You’re more than welcome to use our bikes, although if you’re taking them to Amsterdam you should take care in locking them, bikes change hands quickly in the city.
Muiden itself ia 5 minute walk and has several good amenities such as a bakery, several bars and restaurants, a post office, small supermarket and a pharmacy.
Getting to Schiphol and back, or to any of the bus stations that cater for international buses, is a bit more complicated, so if that’s your way into Amsterdam and you need a pick up just let us know, we’re more than happy to pick you up.
Public transport chip cards are available. There might or might not be enough credit on them to get to Amsterdam, so always make sure you have some cash money on you if you’re going to Amsterdam for the first time. The cards have a minimum of €4 if you’re traveling by bus and €20 if you’re traveling by train. Keep this in mind when using them. Getting from Muiden to Amsterdam will set you back about €2.50 using the chip card.
Laundry, Showers and Energy Use
We have a laundry machine and a dryer on site. In Spring, Summer and Autumn we dry all our clothes (mostly outside, occasionally inside) and in Winter, when it’s dry we do this as well. Lin is usually taking care of the laundry and you can tag along with her laundry schedule for your own gear as well.
We have two bathrooms in the house. The upstairs bathroom is dedicated for you while the downstairs bathroom is for us. There is also a toilet downstairs that is also available to you. The bathroom upstairs has a hot shower, a toilet and a sink. Although for us it’s common sense, we ask you to limit your showering to once per day max.
We try to be conscious about our electricity use, have LED lighting pretty much throughout the whole house and try to cut back on heating whenever we can. This doesn’t mean it’ll be freezing cold in the house, it’s just that we close doors as much as possible and usually put on a jumper first before turning the heating up or lighting the stove.
Frequently Asked Questions
What languages are spoken?
We both speak Dutch, English and Italian pretty much fluently. Indi and Jona speak Dutch, although with people from all corners of the world joining in, her English vocabulary is growing on a daily basis.
Can you pick me up from ...?
Just let us know when and where you will be arriving and we’ll see if we can accommodate for a pickup. Usually that’s the case. Schiphol is a 30-minute drive, Amsterdam Central Station is 20 minutes away and the international bus stations are also both not very far away.
Can I bring a musical instrument?
Yes please!! Alef plays the guitar but currently does not own one and we always welcome more music in the house, so yes, please bring it along!
What type of accommodation is available?
At this point we are still discussing whether or not we’re keeping our camper van in the mix. At the very minimum there is a very spacious bed room available in the house. It’s downstairs and since we sleep upstairs you have a bit of privacy as a result. The room is light, big and has a little bit of a seating area.
Can I bring my kids?
Yes, I believe you can. We haven’t had any people over with kids before however, so let’s discuss to see how we can cater for it. More is usually definitely good!
What if things don't work out?
There’s always the possibility things for some reason don’t work out between us. We believe that it doesn’t make sense as adult people to stay put in a situation that makes us miserable. First we will discuss the situation with you (or you with us of course) and we’ll see if things improve. If not, we’ll sit down and work out a way to end our cooperation. Of course this doesn’t mean we will put you out on the street right away. We’ll find a good way to end things. Having said that: it has never happened to us and we think it probably never will.
What to do in case of an emergency?
We ask all volunteers to leave a copy of their ID or passport. We do this for several reasons, but mostly for your safety. If for some reason you get lost or something happens to you, we want to know who we’re dealing with. That’s also why we note down emergency numbers and people to contact in case of an emergency.
The copy of your passport is returned upon your leaving and don’t bother about making one before you arrive: we have a printer :-).