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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.