Posted by: ecodestination | December 1, 2009

Volunteer at organic farms across the globe

Peter and Amanda are WWOOF hosts in the UK

Do you enjoy organic farming and other activities that further sustainability?

There are organic farms all over the globe that you can volunteer at in exchange for free lodging and free meals, plus learning about organic farming and related lifestyles. Some farms have just a couple of hosts while others have entire families or small communities you would stay and hang out with.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) was founded in 1971 in the UK. The organizations involved with this project connect people who wish to volunteer, aka “WWOOFers” (awesome), with those who wish to receive help and impart their knowledge and skills to others. You can usually even do it if you don’t speak the local language! These hosts are cool folk, apparently.

WWOOFing in Australia with alpacas

Volunteers: What you need to know

On the WWOOF website you can find lists of organic farms, smallholdings, and gardeners. Some of them only request/accept help during certain months or seasons, while others are open all year long. Additionally, tasks vary per farm and, of course, geographical location.

You can visit the list of farms/hosts, choose the ones you’d like to visit, and contact them directly to make arrangements. WWOOFers usually live as part of the family, so the environment tends to be cozy and friendly (I assume, as I’ve never volunteered for WWOOF).

If you volunteer, you will not have to pay (and you won’t get paid) except for a “small fee” to WWOOF, which hosts must pay also. The fee helps maintain and grow the project.

The hosts

All hosts grow their food organically, are in conversion, or use environmentally friendly techniques on their farms and so on. Volunteers get hands-on experience growing organic crops and, where possible, by performing other tasks, such as feeding cattle.

There are WWOOF farms you can volunteer at in all five continents. The countries include the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, the European Union, Turkey, Israel, Cameroon, Uganda, South Africa, Australia, India, Japan, and others (keep checking the website).

Conclusion, so to speak

This sounds like a totally sweet deal for the adventurous, outdoorsy types who also want to make our world a better place (corny but true, huh? That’s okay.). Also, those of you free enough to get around, of course (the especially lucky among us!).

If you have experience with WWOOF, please share your thoughts and impressions! It sounds great, but there are always two sides to every story (at least).



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