Are you looking to travel the world and promote sustainability at the same time? Or are you an organic farmer seeking an extra set of hands? You may want to get involved in WWOOF, the Willing Workers on Organic Farms program.
WWOOF is a worldwide initiative that connects volunteers to organic farmers and growers in an effort to promote cultural and educational experiences. These connections are not built upon monetary exchange, but instead they are built upon mutual trust which helps build and create a more sustainable and harmonious world.
The program, originally referred to as Working Weekends on Organic Farms, began in 1972 in England when the initial founders spent a weekend helping out on an organic farm in return for their stay. In 1982, the name was changed after people questioned why they should only pursue this awesome project on weekends.
There are now more than 55 independent groups globally from Austria to Canada to Cameroon and many places in between and while they may operate separately, they all have the same model where food and lodging is provided by farmers in return for their help, usually four to six hours per day. The hours may be flexible and some hosts may offer free days, but it varies and is negotiated with the host. The WWOOFers are responsible for travel costs between hosts and for any other things outside of meals and accommodations. The program is strictly volunteer driven usually with no money exchanging hands. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The minimum length of stay is two nights and the maximum can be negotiated with the host. The participating farms range from small hobby farms to large commercial enterprises to communal living groups.
One of the 55 countries that hosts this fantastic program is Australia. Want to learn about and see the real country, off the beaten tourist path? Then consider joining the WWOOF program in Australia
that began in 1981 and has grown quickly to now include more than 1,800 host farms. They even have a mobile app and a published Australian WWOOF book which provide contact information, property descriptions and pictures, details about work activities, accommodation and meal details and other information about participating host farms. The interested WWOOFer browses the listings, picks a suitable place and contacts the host to set up arrangements. Many different types of farms are represented, allowing WWOOFers to chose their hosts based on geography, philosophy (the types of practices that the farmer undertakes), culture or simply general interest in a particular area of the country.
The relationship between a host farm and a WWOOFer guest is mutually beneficial making the program wildly successful and sustainable. Here are only a few of the benefits to each party:
- A greater understanding of different farming practices like organic farming or biodynamic farming
- An appreciation of sustainability
- An improved understanding of where their food comes from and how it was produced
- New skills
- An improved understanding of living lightly upon the land
- An insight into different cultures
- An affordable way to travel and learn
Host Farmers gain:
- Help with labor intensive parts of farming
- Help with projects that require more hands
- The opportunity to express their passion and values as well as to teach others
- New ideas and techniques from the WWOOFers
- Interactions with different cultures
- The opportunity to learn
This enriching and interesting experience can be mutually beneficial to each party and can lead to a more sustainable, harmonious and healthier world. To get involved as a WWOOFer or as a host farmer, visit the WWOOF site
today, and contact WWOOF organization in the country you farm in, or are interested in WWOOFing to.
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