WWOOF: Willing Workers on Organic Farms

Click here for a little tale of my time on a Japanese Wwoof establishment in the Summer of 2002

[ an alternative source of information can be found at www.organicfacts.net ]

What is WWOOF?

An International organisation that provides a form of cultural exchange in which WWOOFers live and work as family with host farms. Working 3 - 6 hours a day, you have the opportunity to learn the skills of organic growing and the area that you are visiting. In exchange for this you get full board and accommodation, usually in the family home.

What is Organic Farming?

"Organic and Bio-dynamic growing are agricultural systems based on the recycling of wastes, the rotating of crops in a mixed cropping situation, the addition of natural materials, much work, and much thought. They rely on natural, biological processes, and minimum energy requirements and decry the use of modern soluble chemicals either for fertilization or for pest and weed control, because these upset biological processes, and are energy intensive to produce and transport."* Click here for more information.

* -Lionel Pollard (Founder WWOOF Australia)

How can WWOOFing be of use to the working traveller?

When you arrive in a new country you will often feel lost, bewildered and confused. You may not understand a word of the language or the unusual customs of the local population. As a WWOOFer, you will be a part of a family or community who will not only teach you a little about organic farming, (whether it be how to milk a cow or the art of building a sheep-shed), but who will also give you an insiders view on the country that you are in. You will undoubtably learn at least a little of their language, and will come to feel not like a lost tourist, but more like a local with a foreign accent. It is a fantastic starting point for anyone upon arrival in almost any country in the whole world.

Do I need a work visa in order to Wwoof?

No. That's one of the great things about WWOOFing. As you are a volunteer, working in exchange for knowledge, food and a warm bed there is no need for a work permit. There are exceptions to this rule, check with the appropriate embassy first). As a WWOOFer you could remain in a foreign country for as long as your tourist visa lasted: your only expense being for postage stamps to tell all your friends what a great time you're having.

What kind of work will I be doing as a WWOOFer?

Being a WWOOFer you will find yourself doing the most unlikely of tasks. Personally, whilst on WWOOF farms I have experienced: chopping wood, milking cows, goats and sheep, stacking hay, chasing geese, driving numerous tractors, cars, and trucks, muck-spreading, teaching English in Japanese high school classes, clearing scrubland, shovelling poo of all kinds, sowing seeds, building a woodshed, weeding, harvesting various fruit and vegetables, drinking homemade wine, learning French, Japanese and Swiss-German, having days out to volcanoes and hot springs, chasing runaway cows and horses, driving a crane and eating copious amounts of delicious food.

How can I join Wwoof?

The easiest way to join WWOOF is via their websites. There are many WWOOF organisations throughout the world, but I would personally reccomend the Australian and United Kingdom branches. Both of these produce excellent Worldwide lists that cover all those countries that do not have their own WWOOF associations. Join now - you'll never regret it!

Joining WWOOF costs very little. In return for a small fee you will recieve a book listing hundreds of farms around the world. This is your key to learning about other cultures and customs, and escaping from that horrendous trap known as the Rat Race where money means more than life itself.

 

What are the WWOOFer guidelines?

The WWOOFer guidelines were devised to "help travellers reflect upon their reasons for travelling and to help them understand their impact on host communities, especially in the third world." Click here for more information.

Click here for the The International WWOOF Association Website

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