The Art of WWOOF: World Wide Organic Farming Volunteers

Budget Travel, Working Abroad — By on December 1, 2011 at 11:34 pm

WWOOFING VINEYARD

By Katherine Logan
Special to Lost Girls
 
Voluntourism wears a new hat these days given the current economic climate, and programs like WWOOF have surfaced as popular options for budget travel. WWOOF stands for the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and connects travelers with environmentally conscious farmers around the globe. The idea is that in exchange for a days work, the volunteer receives room and board and the opportunity to experience sustainable life on an organic farm. In a young traveler’s mind this translates to free travel. Although this proves true in the broader sense, if you are considering WWOOF, here are a few things to keep in mind.

 WWOOFing is not for the faint of heart

It is easy to disregard the labor portion of the agreement when you are wide-eyed traveler daydreaming of all the places you could go. You must prepare yourself to be dirty 99% of the time, and wake up at the crack of dawn with the chickens. WWOOFing is hard work, and you will certainly earn your keep. But with that said…

Anyone can WWOOF

If two petite 20-something girls who have never set foot on a farm can do it, well, pretty much anyone can. WWOOFing hosts will find tasks that fit one’s abilities, and although you may be challenged at times, you will never be pushed beyond your limits.

No two WWOOFs are the same

TOMATOES

On one adventure, I WWOOFed in the wine country of France with a 28-year-old hippie musician looking to rebuild a sustainable sanctuary, on another danced and drank wine with my fellow Norwegian WWOOFers until the early hours of dawn, but your experience could be entirely different. Choose your WWOOF host wisely, and base your decision on what you hope to get out of the experience. The good news is that worse comes to worse, you can always leave.

Don’t forget to marvel

I may have gone into the experience a wide-eyed traveler thinking of all the places I could go in a more superficial sense, but WWOOF made me slow down and value each moment, each meal, and each person around me. I learned to live in a sustainable manner away from the city lights and sensory overload of every day life, and take part in the true French culture hidden behind the doors of its people. Keeping that in mind, if you are looking to see the world while learning the ropes of organic farm life, WWOOF might just be the program for you. Join the organization now at www.wwoof.org.