No, I am not talking about some new age travel trend that involves barking like a dog. I am talking about the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). Now I understand anything having to do with the word “farm” is not the first thing that usually comes to people’s minds when they are planning a trip. Stay with me for a minute, what if I asked you to imagine being in Tuscany and making wine on a beautiful vineyard? What about making French bread and cheese in France? Growing coffee in Ecuador? Sounds a little more appealing now doesn’t it? The great thing about WWOOFing is that you can have these fantastic experiences and accommodations and food are provided in exchange for about 4-5 hours of work a day.
The WWOOF concept began in England in the 1970’s with the intention of providing “city slickers” an opportunity to go to the countryside in order to support local farms and the organic movement. With farm-to-table demands growing in popularity, the WWOOFing idea spread from England and has now grown into a worldwide organization that has over 99 affiliated countries. The goal is multifaceted; promote cultural exchange and knowledge, and by helping local farmers further a global sustainable community, one farm at a time.
WWOOFing is a fantastic way to travel cheaply with the food and board taken care of, but it is not exclusively for budget backpackers. The richest part of the experience is really getting to know the local community and experience another country in a way few people ever get to do. In addition to working with the local community you will often meet other WWOOFers from all over the world. This is not an ordinary trip but a chance to personally grow and positively impact the local sustainable community. Global change happens one person at a time.
Each country has its own WWOOF organization and you have to buy membership for each country you are interested in WWOOFing in. For example if you want to WWOOF in New Zealand, you have to buy a membership to the New Zealand chapter. Once you become a member for that specific country you will scroll through dozens of pages from hosts looking for a variety of work. From basic wedding pulling, working as a barista at an organic coffee shop, training horses, to even computer and IT support – there is a niche for just about any talent. If you are up for adventure than WWOOFing might be for you. The minimum age is 19 and there is no age limit (as long as you are able to accomplish the work you sign up for). Duration of farm stays range for six days to six months or longer, all depending on what you want and what the needs of your hosts are.
I always try to remember that the best part about travelling is the experience. The experience starts from the moment you walk out your front door and head to the airport. Relax, let go, and do not let fear of unknown phase you; be of an open mind and heart and you just might find that WWOFing is for you!
For more information please the organizations website, http://wwoofinternational.org