Spend time in an organic farm? Let's go WWOOFing!

Published 2022-04-20 14:31:59
Wwoofing activities - Credit:  Pierre-Philippe, Flickr

WWOOF is an organisation called WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Its global popularity has skyrocketed recently as more people joined the programme, in connection with growing interest for environment and ecology. The organisation's main goals are to give people the opportunity to experience a rural agricultural lifestyle to promote an ethical economy, sustainable farming with some cultural exchange thrown in for good measure.

What is WWOOFing?

Increasingly, people have become jaded with the “modern” lifestyle. The Covid-19 pandemic and climate change are two of the most recent events that have highlighted that how we live and impact the planet has to change now.

Therefore, organisations like WWOOF have succeeded in attracting people from all walks of life to sample a lifestyle that is sustainable and friendly to the planet and all of its inhabitants. 

WWOOF organisation was founded in 1971 in the UK and nowadays its network extends worldwide, with around 130 countries. Volunteers sign up and choose a location where they would like to experience an alternative, agricultural lifestyle.

Membership validity extends to one year and you must be an adult to sign up. During that year you can take an unlimited number of WWOOFing trips.

You require no previous farming experience. Once you are allocated your WWOOF host "family", you will spend your time experiencing practical and sustainable farming/gardening methods. Some typical daily tasks you may find yourself doing include:taking care of farm animals, harvesting, cooking, making cheese, wine making, baking bread, gardening, pruning, etc.

You will not get paid for this work and neither will you have to pay to work on the farm. The host provides room and board for the duration of your stay. WWOOFing offers you an opportunity to experience another culture and make new friends.

The duration of your WWOOFing experience all depends on your plans and the needs of your host(s). They usually list when and how long they require placements.

Serres de culture pendant le WWOOFing - Credit: Pierre-Philippe, Flickr

What are the hidden costs?

The cost of WWOOF membership varies from country to country (they are organised on a national basis, therefore you need to select your destination first). In the US for instance, there are different options to choose from. You can pay for a once off membership for $40 for a single person or you may choose to share this experience with a partner. In which case, the membership cost is $65. 

The correct gear for WWOOFing includes wearing the correct clothes and footwear to make your experience comfortable and enjoyable. Your host could provide for some of your needs but you should ensure you have adequate protection especially if you're going to be working outdoors in uncertain weather conditions.

Sylvain et le montage de protection des oignons - Credit: Pierre-Philippe, Flickr

With many hosts providing board and lodging you can expect to be offered anything from comfortable beds with luxury linen or just a patch of grass to pitch your tent. Be sure to speak with your host before you embark on your WWOOFing adventure to ensure you are prepared for the living conditions on the farm.

You will be entirely responsible for getting to your host farm. Your travel plans may include a short train ride or an international plane trip with necessary tourist visas. Be sure to do your homework and get all the required documentation necessary for your trip. If you plan in advance you could probably score cheaper travel tickets.

Some countries may require work visas so ensure you find out the exact visa requirements, if any. Certain work visas also have a strict list of activities you can engage in. In some locations you may even require a special permit to volunteer (for instance, even unpaid volunteering is considered employment in Germany and if you are not European Union citizen, you will need a visa or residence permit authorising volunteer work; in the US, you will need a B-1/B-2 visa). Be sure to do thorough visa research.

Beside your activities in the farm, you will enjoy a lot of downtime. It could mean curling up with a good book or some local sightseeing. Budget for your entertainment when you're not working, after all you're there to experience the local culture as well.

Some popular destinations

According to gogreentravelgreen.com the most attractive destinations for WWOOFing are:

  1. New Zealand: the beautiful and diverse locations make this country a very popular destination.
  2. Australia.
  3. Costa Rica: Farming and nature conservation are very important in this country and Costa Rica is highly rated in organic farming with diverse crops. The tropical rainforests are a big attraction for volunteers.
  4. North America: there are numerous farming opportunities in the US and Canada.
  5. Europe: Portugal, Italy, France are popular because of vineyards and various organic farming techniques employed on these farms.
WWOOFing au Clos-Masure - Credit: Pierre-Philippe, Flickr
To know more about WWOOFing, read the interview of two WWOOFers who shared their experience.

Share your experience, participate in the discussion and leave comments in our forum HERE.

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Author: KashGo
Expat Mum in the Desert and content writer for EasyExpat.com

For other discussions, advice, question, point of view, get together, etc...: please use the forum.

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