If you, like I, head straight for Urban Dictionary when confronted with an unknown term, you will find the definition of Wwoofing to be as follows;
When a young person throws caution to the wind, rejects their material possessions and travels the world working on organic farms for the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms organization. They pay for the plane ticket, but then have free room and board in exchange for back breaking labour on an organic farm.
“Have you heard from Elisha lately?”
“No, I heard she was Wwoofing on a Costa Rican Pineapple plantation.”
For those who are familiar with the term, it is likely that the first thing that springs to mind is ‘FREE HOLIDAY!’. Whilst in some respects, Wwoofing does allow you to live in a different country for a period of time whilst being provided with free food and accommodation, the real meaning of the name (or at least one of the meanings) implies the reality of the scheme; ‘Willing Workers on Organic Farms’. Essentially, Wwoofing involves working for 1 week, 2 weeks or even up to a few years on an organic farm. There are currently hosts in around 99 countries around the world, ranging from honey harvesting for Island Beehive on Kangaroo Island, coffee farms in Northern Thailand, and making cheese in the Alps. The opportunities are almost infinite, and the choice of countries and activities are equally diverse.
Why become a Wwoofer?
WWOOF aims to provide willing volunteers with first-hand experience within an organic environment, in order to allow volunteers to experience life in either a rural setting or a new country. Whilst many people try Wwoofing in order to experience a new country and its culture, it can also be an invaluable opportunity for those wanting to improve a language, or even to begin the process of learning a new language completely. After all, immersion is crucial for efficient language learning. The host will often offer language assistance, or even free lessons, of course in return for assistance on their farm, or sometimes even around the house and with their children. The duration of the visit is negotiable, and whilst some people opt to stay for a few days or weeks, some chose to stay for anything up to a number of years. Work days average five or six hours, and the Wwoofers tend to mix with people from a range of different countries. Whilst there is a range of different schemes available for anyone wanting to travel inexpensively, such as Au Pairing, Wwoofing seems to be becoming more and more popular due to its complete flexibility with regards to the period of time you are expected to stay, and the wealth of opportunity available when deciding where to go and what to do.
For those interested in embarking on the exciting journey, I have included some websites to get you started. For those wanting to visit France, visit http://www.wwoof.fr/eng/. I would recommend the South during the summer months, Provence in particular, to benefit from the beautiful weather. Equally charming is the Bordeaux region, particularly Aquitaine, for its beautiful Vineyards. The best time for grape-picking is, however, around May/June time. For those interested in Germany visit http://www.wwoof.de/, and similarly for Greece head to http://wwoofgreece.org/. And for those feeling a little more adventurous, the opportunities available in Australia are, quite literally, endless. Producing Olive Leaf tea in Queensland, working at a Butterfly Retreat in the Northern Territory or working with Alpacas in New South Wales. For more information on Wwoofing in Australia visit http://www.wwoof.com.au/. If you would simply like to try out Wwoofing in England before committing to anything abroad (which is deemed a good idea by those with experience of Wwoofing) then have a look at http://www.wwoof.net/welcome-to-wwoof/, which explains the process fully and has answers to almost every Wwoofing-related query.
I can’t promise, however, that if you do decide to go Wwoofing and tell every one about your plans, that they won’t assume that you’re mad and are about to spend your summer making strange barking noises.