WWOOF formally stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is often referred to by it's old name, Willing Workers on Organic Farms. The organization maintains an active list of organic farmers in many different countries who are willing to host travelers in exchange for work. Volunteers who sign up with a WWOOF organization get access to this list and may arrange visits with a host farm. It's an experience enjoyed by thousands of people each year, from students to travelers to those hungry for knowledge about organic farming.
History of World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
WWOOF first came into being in the fall of 1971 in England. A London secretary named Sue Coppard recognized the need for city-dwellers to experience the countryside. She organized a trial weekend and sent the first four WWOOF volunteers to a farm in Sussex. The weekend was a great success. Soon, more organic farmers heard of the idea and expressed their willingness to host travelers and teach them the ins and outs of green farming.
The demand gradually increased and farmers wanted workers to stay for longer periods of time. More volunteers appeared and eventually independent WWOOF organizations were formed in many different countries. Each group runs itself in a slightly different manner, but all maintain lists of farms open to travelers and publish the host list and newsletters. They also play the part of mediator if any problems arise.
WWOOFing is a great way to learn about a new culture, meet new people and get a taste of country life. Many farms offer language lessons in addition to the usual farm work. It's a wonderful experience for both the host and the volunteer and gives you first-hand experience of sustainable agriculture and organic farming, a practice becoming increasingly difficult with the rise of cheaper chemical farming methods. Organic farming is often an intensive job that requires more work than farming with artificial pesticides and fertilizers. Volunteering for these farms also helps feed the world good food.
One of the best advantages of WWOOFing is getting a taste of another culture. Living with a host family you cook and eat meals together, share stories and maybe even learn a new language. Both traveler and host are expected to offer friendship and respect to each other, and WWOOFers should be willing to learn and work for their experience. The cost is practically nothing, but the benefits are enormous for everyone.
Beginning to World-wide Opportunites on Organic Farms
Choose which country you would like to WWOOF and join their organization. Pay a small fee for access to the World-wide Opportunities on Organic Farms host list and your membership card. Afterwards, you are responsible for arranging your visit. The duration of your stay on the farm can range from a few days to a few months or even years, depending on the hosts' needs.
You can find more information on WWOOF FAQs at the organization's official website.
What Work Will I Do?
WWOOFers learn to do all sorts of chores while visiting the organic farms. Depending on the type of farm and season, work can vary greatly from farm to farm. Sowing and planting seeds, tending gardens and crops, harvesting vegetables or fruits, caring for livestock, milking animals, building barns, fences or other farm structures, and so on are just a few possible tasks.
Volunteers are only expected to work as hard and their host does, which could mean 7 day weeks from sunrise to sunset or a less intensive schedule. The WWOOF organization wants WWOOFers to have at least one day off a week and work no more than 7 hours a day.
The official WWOOF page for the entire organization offers addresses and more information for each of the below listed sites.
- WWOOF Austria
- WWOOF Australia
- WWOOF Czech Republic
- WWOOF Denmark
- WWOOF Germany
- WWOOF Hawai
- WWOOF Italy
- WWOOF Korea
- WWOOF Mexico
- WWOOF New Zealand
- WWOOF Nepal
- WWOOF Turkey
- WWOOF UK