Do you enjoy communing with nature? Does the organic food movement interest you? Are you looking for a way to learn new skills, meet people from all over the world and receive free room and board during your stay in Europe? Then WWOOFing may be a perfect fit.
What is WWOOFing?
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) was started in 1971 in the UK as a way to provide opportunities for individuals to work for short periods of time (a few days to a few months) on organic farms. The organization quickly spread to other European countries and now there are over 6,000 host farms in 88 countries worldwide.
In exchange for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts (farm owners) offer food, accommodations and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles and farming processes. Opportunities vary from working on an organic vineyard to learning how to make artisanal breads and cheeses to raising sheep (and many other types of farm-related activities). Volunteers work for a certain number of hours per day, as agreed upon by the farm owner and the WWOOFer in advance.
In addition to offering free room and board and the opportunity to learn myriad new skills, WWOOFing is also a great way to meet people from all over the world (which could lead to more travel opportunities). Given the international nature of the organization, WWOOFers on a single farm can welcome individuals from many different countries. Most WWOOFers remember their experiences fondly and often keep in touch with farm owners or fellow WWOOFers. Many WWOOFers work for a few weeks on one farm, travel for a while, go to another farm, etc. It is a fantastic way to organize a trip and make it more affordable.
How do I get started?
Visit the WWOOF site of the country or countries you’re interested in visiting. You will find information on how to become a WWOOF member for that country (membership dues are small, typically between 15-30 Euros). Then you will be able to access that country’s WWOOF database or the organization will send you a directory of participating farms. You can then read the descriptions of the farms and get in touch with the ones that sound most interesting to you. After communicating with the farm owners about the specifics (dates, hours, etc.), be sure to check out the passport and visa requirements for the country/countries in which you’ll be working. These rules have gotten quite confusing due to recent changes in immigration laws throughout the European Union. However, most countries’ WWOOF sites have information on required visas or links to helpful government pages.
After you’ve secured your WWOOF assignments and squared away your visa and passport, book your ticket and start packing your bags!
Written by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard for EuropeUpClose.com