Most likely, if you are not steeped in the activities of organic gardening or growing your own food, you may not have heard the term ”WWOOFing”. It stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and others call it Willing Workers On Organic Farms. As described by Wikipedia, “ WWOOF is a loose network of national organizations that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms.”
I especially like the definition by Urban Dictionary: “When a young person throws caution to the wind, rejects their material possessions and travels the world working on organic farms for the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms organization. They pay for the plane ticket, but then have free room and board in exchange for back breaking labor on an organic farm.”
At wwoofusa.org, they describe their mission this way: “ Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, USA (WWOOF-USA®) is part of a worldwide effort to link visitors with organic farmers, promote an educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming practices. ” If you become a member, you will have access to over 2000 organic farms from which to choose where to WWOOF.
Lastly, wwoof.net simply explains, “ WWOOF is an exchange – In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.”
So the question remains: why become a WWOOFer?
In a world of fast-paced, high tech living, we humans have become ever more separated and disconnected from the world of nature as we spend our daily lives bound to incoming texts, sorting through an endless stream of emails, maintaining connections with friends around the world on Facebook and surfing the web for the latest trends, info and products. If we lost all satellite connections tomorrow, the global population would endure an immediate pandemic as to what to do with their time. In essence, WWOOFing is a return to the garden.
The Possibilities Of WWOOFing
Besides the opportunity for going back to the garden, volunteering to WWOOF opens the door to expand your horizons in infinite ways:
• Travel (inexpensively!) to new parts of the world
• Connect more deeply with the natural world
• Gain knowledge of nature’s wisdom
• Learn new skills, especially survival skills
• Broaden your experience of other cultures
• Fine tune your social skills
• Possibly learn to speak a new language
• Make new friends and contacts
• Share a sense of accomplishment
• Deepen your understanding of where all foods come from and what it takes to grow them
• Obtain a new satisfaction of working hard and volunteering your time for free
• Enrich your life on many levels
• and more
With summer approaching, I see WWOOFing as the ideal opportunity for just about anyone, but particularly college students and families with children. So many college students are graduating with ever increasing obsolete degrees and minimal job opportunities. While they will not get paid for their work, they will be stepping into what I believe is going to be the wave of the future for their generation: the global community conscious of ecological farming and sustainable living. All the possibilities above await them to stir their imagination and prepare them for the days to come. And what better place than an organic farm for a family to vacation together, work the land, acquire survival skills and encourage their children’s connection and appreciation for nature. While my children are grown, I can think of nothing more fun, as a gardening lover, than to spend time perhaps harvesting organic olives on the coast of Portugal or Greece while making new friends and being in nature.
WWOOFing is a wonderful concept whose time has come.
Did you know that from 2011 to 2017 that the number of organic farms in the U.S. increased by almost 75 percent? A WWOOFing experience can help you decide if organic farming is right for you as a viable career path. Here is a great guide to Organic Farming Degrees and Careers:
Enjoy the article below on WWOOFing for your next vacation.
And for more WWOOFing info, visit wwoofing.info.
5 Reasons to Go WWOOFing for Your Next Vacation
If you need a vacation and lack funds and resources for the traditional trip, consider becoming a WWOOFer. The WWOOF movement originally started in 1971 so workers in London could spend weekends in the country while learning about growing food. WWOOF refers to farms participating in the World Wide Organic Organization of Farming, a network of farms spread out across the U.S. and the globe that hosts visitors to their farms.
Visitors work at assigned tasks on the farm in exchange for meals and board. As many of the hosts have minimal restrictions around lengths of time for WWOOFers, vacationing or time off in between jobs can be an excellent opportunity to get your hands dirty and learn more about growing food. When planning your time as a WWOOFer, make sure to double check expectations for each farm and plan carefully.
Here are the top five reasons to WWOOF as a vacation:
1. Spending time outside can be an excellent way to combat stress. A study published by Landscape and Urban Planning found that adults living in areas with the largest amounts of green space reported less feelings of stress than of those who spent most of their time in urban settings. Just think of your stress levels dropping for each day spent in the sun and fresh air.
2. It is an affordable option for travel. With room, food and board covered, your only expense while volunteering as a WWOOFer can be for traveling. Many of the farms exist far from populous centers with little distractions for spending money.
3. Don’t worry if you don’t have any farming experience. If you are concerned about lack of experience while volunteering as a WWOOFer, most farms take volunteers of all levels of experience. They only expect you to show up at a farm armed with a positive attitude and flexibility to suit the daily needs at the farm. Keep in mind that you may have to assist with some mundane tasks like weeding, but plant care and upkeep at an organic farm can be labor intensive.
4. An important component of WWOOFing involves the educational aspect. If you want to know about growing your own food, hands on education is the best way to educate yourself about food growth. Even if you have no outdoor space, any knowledge about gardening can be employed for indoor and smaller spaces. Many farms provide more than just an opportunity to grow food. As a WWOOFer, you can also learn how to build structures, make food, and care for animals.
5. The community and networking potential is an amazing opportunity within itself. Many of the farms have a variety of volunteers coming in and out on a weekly basis. With more than 1,000 hosts in the U.S. and more spread out across the planet, becoming a WWOOFer can provide countless contacts for meeting other guests and volunteers.
With careful planning, WWOOFing can be an excellent time away from daily life to unwind and connect with nature. Rebecca D’Angelo, a past WWOOFer, decided to spend time on a farm after she graduated from college. “I didn’t have a job after college and I love working outdoors. Doing so has gotten me through some tough transitions,” said D’Angelo. She added that she WWOOFed at farms in Maine and Connecticut.
Make sure to research and communicate with your potential farming hosts while organizing your WWOOFing adventure. Ensuring that you and your hosts are on the same page before you arrive will definitely make your WOOFing experience a positive one.