Author: Lea Linin
WWOOF, the emphatic cry you let out, the point when you realize you have found the animal within, suffering from the overexposure to copious amounts of fresh air after spending some time on a remote farm you can pick and choose from the wide range of the most remote and unimaginable places dispersed around the globe. At least, I imagine, as this article will be devoid of a first-hand- experience writer’s perspective, but hopefully will motivate you hard enough to plunge into a first-hand experience of your own.
WWOOF is not the sharply uttered exclamation of soothing delight; it’s the acronym for the World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms initiative. In short, World – Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is a global volunteering initiative that helps link organic farmers with organic farm enthusiasts, avid travelers and wanderers, and urban escapists.
How It All Began
First it was ‘Working Weekends on Organic Farms’, a local initiative that was established in 1971 in the UK by a woman called Sue Coppard. Her idea was to make the countryside accessible to people living in the cities, while at the same time giving support to the organic movement. It comes as no surprise that an initiative such as this one was introduced in the UK, as the English have always had a deep fascination with the countryside.
As time went by the working weekends on organic farms were not just weekends anymore. People stayed there for longer periods, their enthusiasm never on the wane, probably the ones that inspired the renaming of the initiative – Willing Workers on Organic Farms. Today’s WWOOF stands for the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and is operating on a global level.
Pick and Choose Your Destination
Just close your eyes and imagine a place where you want to go. Or close your eyes, have a globe in front of you and point somewhere on it; the place you have chosen by chance is probably included on the WWOOF map. The WWOOF initiative is decentralized; each country has a national WWOOF organization that coordinates the WWOOF activities, but there is no central coordinating organization. However, there is also a list of independents, as they are dubbed, a list of countries that do not have a national WWOOF organization, but are active within the initiative. The list of WWOOF countries is almost never-ending. Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Hawaii, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, The Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Uganda, the UK, the USA. You should also check out the list of independents! A comprehensive list of all WWOOF countries can be found on the official WWOOF web page.
How to Arrange Your Stay
A list of vacancies is published by the national WWOOF organization. A different number and range of vacancies are available. Depending on your interest and affinities you should choose a farm that would be most suitable for you. Potential volunteers are advised to contact the host directly, arrange the length of their stay and all details pertaining to their WWOOFing. Volunteers are provided with bed and board in exchange for a 4-5 hour work at the farm. Note that in order to obtain a list of available WWOOF farms, you would have to pay a small fee to the national WWOOF organization. Make this small investment and start exploring your possibilities!
Go for It
Ever felt like city life is too stifling, routinely exciting, not as primordially exciting as the term ‘urban jungle’ would imply. The drone of traffic, the humming of people’s stomps walking down the street in a river-like pattern, the swiveling of your chair at work, the squinting after having spent too many hours in front of your computer. Bored out of your wits, looking for an adventure, ready to defy conventionality, in desperate need of fresh air and outdoor activities, interested in an unusual learning experience, want an alternative to a regular vacation, want to explore an alternative lifestyle, longing for some peace and quiet, want to make a brave move and surprise yourself, looking to gather some storytelling material? Then, let’s WWOOF! Sounds overwhelming even daydreaming about it.