What is WWOOFing?

 

WWOOFing is the global term for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The concept of this organization is to give people the opportunity to work on farms across the globe learning new skills while in return you will get a roof over your head as well as food; for a host it is a chance to have an extra helping hand when it’s needed as well as meet new people.

 

Why WWOOF?

 

WWOOFing is something completely unique to add to your travels, you learn a considerable amount of new skills as each farm can be quite different and can offer a variety of specialist projects from building adobe housing to breeding trout! You also get a fun cultural exchange whereby you are immersed into someone's lifestyle as well as potentially learning and practicing a new language!

WWOOFing gives you a chance to be in one area for a longer period of time and see it through the eyes of a local; more often than not the hosts enjoy showing you the surrounding attractions and will often take you out exploring.

 

What jobs would I be doing on a farm?

 

You could be given any kind of task big or small, you may even be given a project or a daily routine, but remember you’re kind of the guest and you should remain flexible as each host has their own way of doing things.

Here’s a rough idea of what may be expected of you:

 

  • Feeding and watering animals

  • Releasing animals out to pasture, counting them too!

  • Herding animals

  • Watering greenhouses

  • Harvesting Fruits and vegetables

  • Cleaning animal carrels for fertilizer

  • Shearing animals

  • Digging, lots and lots and lots of it!!

  • Building and fixing fences

  • Building houses out of natural materials from adobe to logs to Earth ships

  • Clearing fields

  • Pruning trees

  • Digging vegetable patches

  • Transplanting

  • Preparing soil for planting

  • Odd maintenance jobs

  • Digging trenches

  • Cooking, sharing new recipes with your host, always fun

  • Offering your personal skills, from teaching an instrument to helping out with a language!

  • Chopping down trees

  • Raking leaves

  • Making bonfires

  • Grafting trees

  • Cleaning out streams

  • Creating mulch

 

What is expected of me?

 

As a guest respect the farms/host's routine, if you have any doubts or questions always ask and remember to always clean up after yourself whether it’s your pots and pans or the room you are staying in. And have fun, share your stories, experiences, knowledge etc. you may have a great idea so share it!

 

Do you need to be in good shape to work on a farm?

 

To an extent, yes! Digging can be very tiring and there could come a time when you’re asked to work up on a mountain, it’s happened! So bear that in mind, also after a couple of days work your muscles could be sore while your body adjusts.

 

How long is it for?

 

That can depend on you or the host.  Some hosts suggest a minimum or maximum number of days a WWOOFer should stay so read the profiles carefully. Also you may want to be involved in a project that could take longer than two weeks for example an adobe house, so you may have to talk to your host regarding their flexibility, but generally we recommend around 15 days that way you have experienced it but if you find it to be too much at least it’s not too long.

 

How do I go about contacting and joining a farm?

 

1. First things first you need to go to the website of the country you want to WWOOF in, e.g. WWOOF Argentina, you will then have to sign up and pay an annual fee to access the contact information for each farm. You will then receive a membership number as well as the contact list via email. WWOOF membership is per person and not per couple!

 

2. Read through the list of farm profiles, you can decide how you want to filter the list such as; do they speak English? Is it camping facilities or a WWOOF room? Do they accept single people or couples?

You must read the profiles very carefully, also don’t forget to check on the Internet for the location of the farm to make sure you can reach it!

 

3.  You should contact a farm at least 2 months in advance, this way you will have a better chance of being accepted on the farm you have chosen, there are a lot of applicants!

 

4. You need to create a personal email to each of the farms you would like to visit, here’s an idea of how to write your email:

 

  • In the subject line of the email put the WWOOF number of the farm e.g. WWOOF ARG314

  • Introduce yourself, your name, age, and country of origin.

  • Ask for availability, mention the date you would like to arrive and how long for.

  • Say a little something about your background, any skills you have that might be useful to your host, not exactly a CV but an outline of what your capable of.

  • Mention your interests, why you’re interested in WWOOFing

  • Explain why you have chosen this particular farm, is there something you would like to learn or a project you would like to be involved in?

  • End your email with your full name and well as your contact details, this includes your phone number.

  • Also include your WWOOF membership number on the end of an email so the host knows that you’re legit!

 

Tip: If a profile states that they can accommodate for more than one person and you are just one person then double check to see if anyone else will be staying with you while you’re there, we’ve had a surprise in the past and personally living on top of one another isn’t our cup of tea!

 

What should I pack for WWOOFing?

 

 If you plan to do several WWOOFs while you travel then your going to need a wardrobe for it, as this isn’t exactly a beach holiday! Even in a desert the temperatures can drop and the weather can be unpredictable from strong winds to dry heat! Here’s a list of items we swore by when WWOOFing:

 

  • X2 pairs of good hiking type trousers, try the ones that convert into shorts for those hotter days.

  • X2 shirts, this way you can role the sleeves up if necessary but also prevents any cuts to your arms

  • X2 vest tops for under your shirts, even when you sweat you can get a chill

  • Micro fleece

  • Waterproof wind breaker

  • Hat

  • Hiking boots or work boots, much better than trainers, they are supportive around your ankles as well as having good grip, try and get ones that are water proof or resistant; also a pair of flip flops or other comfy shoes to rest your feet at night

  • Warm socks

  • Thermal top and bottoms for cold nights (if it’s going to be cold!)

  • Sleeping bag and silk liner, this way you know you will have your own bedding wherever you go and anything provided is a bonus, not all WWOOFs have bedding.

  • Sun cream

  • Collapsible water bottle

  • Lip balm

  • Moisturizer

  • Small bag of washing powder

  • First aid kit with tweezers

  • Tiny sewing kit for any tears

  • Gloves, optional if the weather is seriously cold! You may want to take your own work gloves as some of the ones provided have holes in and don’t work!

  • Nail brush

  • Micro towel

  • Ear plugs

  • Small mirror

  • Extra toilet paper, you will blow your nose a lot!

  • Mobile phone for an alarm clock

  • Travel torch in case of power cuts

  • A good book or two

  • If you know you are heading into colder weather consider a jacket and a scarf

  • Cash, you could be in the middle of nowhere which means no ATM’s and you may need to get your own transport on your day off

  • Any foodstuffs you know you can’t live without!

 

What if I’m not happy?

 

This could happen, if you feel that you are unhappy at any moment regarding arrangements then express this to your host and you could also arrange to cut the experience short if necessary.

Another thing; one of our WWOOFs didn’t go so well, the second week there we had no food left and ended up going into town to purchase our own, we had on a couple of occasions told the host and we were informed that he would deliver some food. The only thing he delivered was cat food, so we packed our bags and left the next day, no one needs to put up with that when your working 9 hours a day, and we both lost weight!!

If something like this does occur it is important to contact the WWOOF group via their website and report it, that’s why there is a membership.

 

Final tips

  • Always stay in contact with your host closer to the time, sometimes things don’t go to plan and you may have to arrive later or completely reschedule so keep them in the loop. Ask if they would like anything bringing for themselves or if you need anything specific. Often we have found some hosts would be very grateful for a few special ingredients for their kitchen that they may not necessarily have access to like you would in a city.

  • Don’t forget your WWOOF membership number for when you’re there, often a host will ask you to write it in their guestbook before you leave.

  • Also a lot of the farms are partially if not totally off the grid, and will probably not have the Internet so bring a book and a pack of cards and enjoy a way of life that is so foreign to a lot of us these days.

 

Have fun and good luck!

 

        * Video footage from Volver A La Fuente, Las Flores.             https://iacopino.wixsite.com/lacomarca/activities