is WWOOF: A traveller friendly guide to travelling for free
On the road I have learned that if you ask any traveller
"what does WWOOF stand for?"
You are bound to hear quite a few different answers.
WWOOF officially stands for World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms. It is a worldwide volunteer network that connects organic farmers and willing workers together. Most countries have their own WWOOF website and slight differences but generally run the same. The traveller, you, logs into the appropriate WWOOF website and pays a fee ranging from 10USD-50USD for a yearly subscription. Once you are a member you can browse the many different farms searching by keyword, diet, work type, language, etc. This part is very important, make sure you communicate exactly what you are looking for in terms of a host since no two hosts will be the same. I have had many different experiences and a first time WWOOF'er will not want any surprises. You are responsible for finding your own placement by personally contacting the farms and making arrangements for the dates you wish to come. If you are looking to WWOOF during the summer period especially in europe, make sure to plan ahead in order to get the farm you desire. If you do not plan ahead, dont worry! there will still be many options if you are a bit flexible on location, work, or accomodation.
Is it really free?
recently in travel there has been a massive increase in the amount of 'volunteer' positions around the world that require you to pay large amounts of money in order to do so. These organizations are just like any business and are turning a profit on your pure intentions. In exchange for your work on the farm usually 4-8 hours a day you receive accomodation, meals, and the most rewarding cultural exchange of your life. You will work with the host family, eat with them, live with them, and have fun with them.
My most memorable travel moments have all been during times I was WWOOF'ing
You get to travel the world and see parts of it you never would have seen otherwise; small towns, village events, and local life. Keep in mind you are responsible for paying for your own flights and transportation to and from the farm so although your time spent on the farms might not knock you into debt you will need enough money to eventually fly home... or not!
Please remember that 'organic farm' is not synonomous with a vegan farm so if you are vegan you will want to search only for vegan farms so you will not be around animal husbandry for consumption. Many non-vegan farmers do not raise animals for their own food and will accomodate your diet and often eat vegan with you as well. I personally have found that vegan farms are the first to fill up so please email the farmers earlier rather than later. I have learned how to grow my food from the ground up, many different techniques for setting up a garden, how to properly pick fruit, how to care for donkeys and many other rescued animals, how to grow wine, and cook countless differnet dishes.
When choosing a farm that is a good fit for you also consider if you would like other WWOOF'ers on the farm. Some farmers accept 10+ helpers while others will only accept 1. The people that WWOOF are some of the most genuine and passionate individuals I have ever had the chance to meet and I have learned so much from them. If you are interested in having the experience of your life, meeting great alternative people, and being surrounded by the peacefulness of nature while eating organic food then WWOOFing is for you! Please check out our blog posts and related videos for more information.