Before asking if you should Wwoof when traveling, first what is Wwoofing? Wwoofing stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The simplest way to explain it is you work for room and board. Wwoof was created in 1971 in London and now over 50 countries have a Wwoofing organisation. Wwoofing is a great way to save money when travelling as well as a great way to really get to know the locals. But remember, it is not free lodging, you will be expected to work at least four hours a day in exchange. Treat your time on duty as you would treat a job at home, don’t slack off just because you’re not getting money!
Wwoofing can give a great insight to farming and local rural life. You’ll be hosted by friendly people that know the area and are happy to give you lodgings and food for a bit of work. Wwoof farms aren’t always farms, they include vineyards and back garden vegetable plots can also be included!
How To Wwoof – The Basics
The first thing to decide if you want to Wwoof, is where you want to Wwoof. This is very important as there is no international Wwoof organisation, so you have to sign up to the organisation in each country you want to Wwoof. To sign up, you also have to pay a membership fee. Don’t let the fee put you off though, you’ll make it back when you’re not paying for food or accommodation!
It’s a good idea to plan a little ahead and even get it sorted before you leave home. As once you’re on the road life can become quite hectic and you may not always be able to get decent WiFi! Make sure you do your research – you may need a visa, depending on which country you want to Wwoof in. Pick a country that isn’t too far into your trip, to give a break from travelling.
Once you’ve signed up to the correct countries Wwoof organisation, you will receive a list of farms. Go through the list, choose what work you want, look at the travel costs of getting to the farm and the minimum commit you have to give. Make sure you choose a place that suits you and the work is something you’re interested in. Although, be aware tasks may change, it’s farming so it all depends on what’s going on at the time!
Make sure your profile stands out. No farming experience is necessary to Wwoof, but there is a lot of competition! When you contact potential hosts, make sure you stand out and don’t be afraid to chase them! Ask them questions, what will the accommodation be like? What task are you likely to be doing? Be interested in what they do and why. But most importantly, make sure you get to know them and that the farm is what you are looking for!
What To Expect From Wwoofing
Because there are a number of farms and countries you can Wwoof in, there’s no ‘rule’ as to what you can expect. Accommodation may be a private room or a tent! You may be picking strawberries or mucking out a shed. It all depends on the farm.
Before you get there, make sure ground rules are established, so you and the farmer know what to expect of each other. Wwoofing generally involves at least four hours work a day, but this may be longer. Make sure you know what is expected and don’t slack off. It is a two way partnership, you are not getting free accommodation but they are not just getting free labour! Grounds rules and expectations are important so that way you have something to refer back to if you need to. Don’t be forced into a task that you cannot do or you really don’t think is fair. But also don’t expect to always be cuddling lambs in the sun!
You will generally need to bring your own work clothes – you will be getting dirty! And remember rain gear as you’ll probably be outside in all weathers! Your host should provide tools required for your tasks.
If something really does go wrong, talk to your host first, there may have been a misunderstanding. But if things don’t improve you have every right to leave. However your host also has the right to notice of you leaving (unless there is a genuine emergency). It does occasionally happen, you and your host just may not ‘click’ but don’t let that put you off forever.
What You Can Gain
Wwoofing is a great way to really discover where you are. You can get involved with local life, learn new skills and have a chance to absorb the language. You also save money on accommodation and food which really do add up! You’ll make some great friends and in most cases the hosts want to show you their world. There are many happy tales about the hosts taking volunteers out with them after work (and I don’t mean drinking, I mean for days out, maybe even on their boat)!
Wwoofing is a great way for backpackers to take a breather from travelling whilst still learning and becoming emerged in local life. Saving money, making friends and having great experiences, it’s what backpacking all about! So should you Wwoof? It all depends what you want. It’s a great way to see rural life and be involved. And everything’s worth a try!