Volunteering at Macalla Farm

Volunteers have played an important role in the evolution of the farm almost from the beginning. Since 2004, they’ve come from all over the world, becoming part of our extended family, helping us with the workings of Macalla farm while in turn gaining hands-on experience and useful skills.

Working alongside us in the garden and polytunnels, on the farm with the sheep and horses, in the kitchen and cafe, in the management of the centre, you can learn a multitude of skills and gain rich experience in what it means to live in close relationship to natural systems. While it’s possible to focus on a particular area such as the garden, it’s also good to be flexible and willing to help out wherever is needed.

COVID has disrupted our normal rhythm of a volunteer season (early March until October) resulting in a start date of May. We prefer people to stay a minimum of a month and great if you can stay longer. We do have a two week trial period, just to make sure that the place is the right fit for you. Volunteers at Macalla Farm work with us in exchange for food and accommodation. And exchange like this requires good communication and attention from all parties so that it works to the benefit of all.  It’s quite a special thing, existing within a world where nearly everything is monetized.

From the feedback we have received from past volunteers, their time on Clare Island has been a really positive and unique experience, with some people returning again and again. We have made many friends including some longlasting and special connections.

FARM MANAGER 2020/21 – Vera

I came to Macalla Farm from the Netherlands in March 2020 as a volunteer to learn more about horticulture and farming with animals, in particular sheep. Before coming here I had completed a masters in Cultural Anthropology in which I researched human-animal relations. While my topic was really interesting, my time was mostly spent indoors behind the computer, making it difficult to engage in any meaningful way with nature.

COVID happened and changed my plans! It proved impossible to continue my travels, so I stayed. A year on, I am happy to say that my life at Macalla Farm has enabled me to really find the engagement with the natural world that I was looking for. My knowledge and awareness has grown so much of the non-human life that we’re in touch with – from the organisms that live within the soil to the bacteria that ferment our food. My relationship with the animals on the farm, especially the milking sheep has developed into something special.

LONG-term stayS

For those who can commit for a longer period of time (6 months or more), we offer an apprenticeship scheme. Being part of the entire growing season from March through September is a wonderful opportunity to gain hands-on experience. Contact Ciara directly with your details about yourself, your experience and why you’d like to apprentice with us.

If you’re thinking that Macalla farm and Clare Island is a place you’d be interested in staying for a while – perhaps working on your own project while giving us a hand part-time, get in touch and tell us more.


We are currently taking expressions of interest from those who would like to help us for the 2022 season. Long term stays begin early March until the end of the season, usually the middle of September. We’re keen to meet people who are enthusiastic and curious – great if you already have skills in the garden and with animals and are vegetarian and love good food – We’re very happy to provide more details, so please get in touch!