(2 minute read)
Finding a way to meet locals and explore new places away from the tour books can be tricky. In answer to this, a huge part of our travels have revolved around WWOOFing. Kylie and I can’t recommend it enough. It is an incredible organisation for travellers of all ages and budgets. Its not just for those with an interest in organic farming but also those happy to simply get involved. WWOOF is a global network of independent farms founded on the principles of mutual exchange and learning. Each farm provides an opportunity for a unique insight into local methods of organic, sustainable agricultural practice in that country. It’s a great way to get to know the local personalities, ways of life and see some beautiful countryside too. So, we thought we’d write an introduction to WWOOFing for those travellers who want to get involved too.
How It Works
The first step is to make contact with a farm via a national WWOOFing website. They all work a little differently, for example the USA website works more like a hotel booking website where you view the farm profile and availability dates. However, the Australian website works more like a forum with both host (farmer) and WWOOFers posting about their availability.
From here you have direct access to chat with the hosts to arrange dates, length of stay, and discuss any questions you might have. We’d advise to ask lots of questions no matter how silly you might feel. Our hosts described having WWOOFers from 16 – 60 stay with varying levels of farming experience. Note; we had absolutely none when booking. Generally speaking as well, the farmers were happy to pick you up from local bus / train stops, but of course make sure everything is clear before you make any plans!
Our Experiences So Far
Our WWOOFing journey started in the USA where we spent a month and a half across three farms. The first stop was in Pennsylvania (1 week), then Kentucky (12 days) and finally California (1 month). In our experience, a week is too short to really get into the routine of the farm and to offer or gain value from the experience. A month was perfect for us.
Each location we stayed at was incredible for the variation in environment, approach and set-up. These ranged from an historic farm worked by generations of the same family to a relatively new farm. It was started by the family who were our hosts who were continually trying new crops and techniques and more than happy to share stories of their successes and failures. Finally, we also stayed with a couple and their farm manager who’s hobby garden had grown to be an incredibly diverse small scale farm, now running a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
We’re continuing our WWOOFing journey in Australia now, staying so far on one farm just outside of Brisbane. We intended for three weeks but ended up staying for six as it was a great location and the host were wonderful people, happy to explain all manner of things – Mount Cotton Organic Fruit and Veg.
What To Expect
In terms of work, WWOOFers give approximately 4-6 hours per day in return for free food and accommodation. Some places you simply cook up your own meals as you wish, at others you’ll share with the hosts. You’ll then typically get 1-2 days off per week. Overall we found this to be a good balance allowing us to learn, relax and do our own exploring. We felt at ease to ask all types of questions about organic and sustainable farming as well as local life as we went. Day trips are sometimes on the agenda too which is a real bonus!
As a little glimpse of our daily life on a farm, our stays included preparing soil for the new season, planting, transplanting, herding sheep, beekeeping and harvesting. A couple of favourites include being involved in a farm to fork kitchen evening and whizzing around on a golf buggy – the simple things!
If you’d like to become a WWOOFer too, use this link to sign up!
NOTE: By using our WWOOFer referral link, you’ll be supporting our journey on the road to sustainable living.
Thanks from us and happy WWOOFing!