My mind, my thoughts, my words

WWOOFing

I reckon most people have heard of WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) before. Basically, it’s a network of organisations that links volunteers with organic farms – in return for your work, hosts offer food and accommodation as well as the opportunity to learn about their lifestyle.

When you register with a national WWOOF organisation (of the country you wish to go to) you have to pay a small fee of around 15-20 Pounds to gain access to the list of hosts. Some countries don’t have national WWOOF organisations and are listed by WWOOF Independents, a membership gives you access to the list of hosts of any of these countries. Some national WWOOF organisations give you access to WWOOF Independents in addition to their country’s list.
You’ll find all different sorts of farms on the lists – mixed animal farms, farms focusing on one sort of animal, farms only doing agriculture…
All you need to do then is email the farm you’d like to go to! Some hosts reply straight away, others never do. Some have last-minute places, others are “wwoofed-out” for months. Some are happy for you to stay only a couple of days, others prefer volunteers to stay for at least a few weeks.
Even though you will probably see something like “5 working hours/day” on the farm’s profiles, it’s likely to end up rather different (cont.).

I made my first WWOOF-experience in France last summer. The farm I had planned on going to first cancelled last minute, but luckily I could find another one within two days. Unfortunately, my stay on that (horse) farm ended after only a week instead of a month due to an accident. These farmers didn’t really make me “work”, rather stay with them and give them a hand now and then – they were more interested in cultural exchange.

This summer I wwoofed in Morocco, on a farm close to Essaouira, for two weeks. I had more or less “fixed” working hours; I collected Argan from about 7.30 till 10.30 and sometimes in the evenings for 1 ½ hours, too, if the weather allowed it (it was usually extremely hot from noon till the evening).

Next, I wwoofed in Spain(Extremadura) for three weeks – on a “proper” farm as you imagine it with lots of land (=agriculture) and animals (=cats, dogs, sheep, donkeys, a horse, chicken, sheep, goats and cows). My work included gardening, looking after the animals, milking goats and cows, and (optional) looking after the farmer´s kids and guests if we had any. So even though it might have said “5 hours a day” on the farm´s profile, on a farm farm you can expect to be working more, since there’s always something to do. The family was wonderful, welcoming me like a daughter of their own: thank you for such a wonderful experience, I will never forget you!

I find wwoofing a great way to get around (for little money), see new places, meet new people, discover different cultures and improve my language skills (and do something useful in my holidays). Et bien sur, learn something about organic farming🙂

Links

Other non-organic organisations:

5 comments on “WWOOFing

  1. Sarah
    18/08/2012

    Hi there, I’d love to hear more about your wwoofing experience in Morocco as I’m thinking of going this year (end Oct/Nov), any chance I could drop you a line? Thanks! Sarah

  2. Amelia
    09/01/2015

    Hi! Can you tell me more about your time wwoofing in morocco? I’d love to learn more about your experience there. You can email me at ameliaw22@gmail.com. Thanks!!!

    • G
      09/01/2015

      Hey Amelia, thanks for your interest. Gosh it’s so long ago now… I basically got the membership to WWOOF Spain which comes with a list of farms in independent countries, including Morocco – might have changed now. There were, at the time, only a few farms listed for Morocco so I just contacted them all. I got a positive reply from an Italian woman, owner of an Argan farm, and went there in the summer for two weeks. Workaway is similar to WWOOF but, as far as I know, you pay a 20 Euro fee or so and get access to ANY country (unless it’s changed, you have to purchase membership for a particular country with wwoof)… hope that helps!

      • aaw1985
        09/01/2015

        Thanks Gina! Was it a positive experience overall and what language was most helpful? Thanks!

      • G
        09/01/2015

        Every life experience is a good/positive one, even if at the point you think it sucks😉 It was hottttt, which is why I got up early, had a snack, worked for a few hours, had breakfast around 11 as far as I remember, then a long siesta, and worked again for a few hours in the evening when it started to cool down a bit. It was challenging but also very interesting. My ‘boss’ and I communicated mainly in English but most other people speak French and/or Moroccan Arabic. We had a Berber family live and work on the farm and they only spoke Berber and a bit of Arabic. I learnt Arabic for a year before I went there but it was by far not good enough to communicate in😉 Having learnt French and speaking it quite well was definitely advantageous as, once I traveled by myself, I was surrounded by Moroccans who I could at least talk to in French. Speaking of traveling alone in Morocco… you might feel more comfortable having a companion. I got in a number of situations where I felt uncomfortable. A guy once followed me for at least 15 minutes through a market, another one who I had had a nice chat with and thought was genuine suddenly tried to make advances, guys on horses at a beach tried to get me to jump on their horse, … I suppose most of them mean it well and it’s just what they do. If you look like a tourist and if you are a girl, you can expect to have some stories to tell after your trip (hopefully good ones!).

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This entry was posted on 12/07/2011 by in Miscellaneous, Places and tagged , .
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