WWOOF aims to provide volunteers (often called “WWOOFers” or “woofers”, /ˈwʊfər/) with first-hand experience in organic and ecologically sound growing methods, to help the organic movement; and to let volunteers experience life in a rural setting or a different country. WWOOF volunteers generally do not receive financial payment. The host provides food, accommodation, and opportunities to learn, in exchange for assistance with farming or gardening activities.

— Wikipedia

WWOOF is an exchange

Volunteer help in exchange for food, accommodation and learning opportunities in organic farming/growing and sustainable life practices. There is no hierarchy between host and volunteer, no productivity expectations, no financial transactions, and as such WWOOFing encourages a partnership based on mutual trust and respect.

WWOOF.ca

I first came to WWOOF because I struggled getting a paid job and because I didn’t want to spend to much money/ be able to stay in Canada for the period of time I intended to stay. That was in May of 2014. 

But before I was able to search for a host AND get their contact data, I had to sign up for a WWOOF Canada account. At first I struggled with with paying their $CA50 admission fee, but I figured that it was a one time buy, and that it would probably save me a lot of money in the future. So I signed up. 

I then started searching out farms, and contacted several. In the end, I had to possible hosts, both for the same period of time. I decided for the one closer to Lake Huron. And I never regretted my decision. 

The people I ended up with where more of free time farmers back then, and I was one of the first two WWOOFers that ever worked on that farm. They were deeply into permaculture (growing nut trees and berries) and had a deep bond with nature. They were also native Canadians. During the times I spent with these people I learned a new form of respect for life and nature. I also learned that respect is not a one way road, and that it has to be earned. 

I even came to play in a community theatre. I was a roman soldier in ‘The Promise’ in a small town called Forest, Ontario. (A.k.a. The Passion of the Christ)

I loved that farm so much, that I returned there after I volunteered for TIFF (> website), even though it was just for 14 days/ to bridge the time until I was able to go back to my payed job in Algonquin Park. (> link (farm))

But in between I had to leave and work on another farm (the other farm that accepted my first request) for a period of time. It wasn’t going that well. (They also had very high expectations, which I wasn’t able to meet due to a bad case of hay fever.) But luckily I got my first payed job during the time I was there. 

Don’t get me wrong: I still enjoyed my time there and it was a great farm with great people. They just had to much hay for my liking. But here’s their website.

UPDATE: They mostly sell their products on there. 

I don’t know if that farms still accept WWOOFers, so check out the official WWOOF Canada website

Pro/Contra WWOOFing:

Pro:

  • You can get to know a whole new culture. 
  • You learn a lot about responsibility and respect. 
  • You learn a lot of new skills.  
  • You’ll meet interesting people. 
  • You’ll probably change your view on food/ nature/ genetically modified food. 
  • You’ll save money, because you get food and accommodation as ‘payment’ from your hosts. 

Contra:

  • It costs money to get into WWOOFing: only if you want hosts that have agreed to certain terms and conditions. 
  • You can end up with a bad host: my hosts weren’t bad people, but the second farm just didn’t work out for me. You can always get a different host if you don’t like yours. 
  • You don’t get payed: but you’ll get food and accommodation. 

That’s my WWOOF story. What’s yours? Tell me in the comments down below. 


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