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WWOOF: World Wide Opportunites on Organic Farms

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15273
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
(right from the home page at www.wwoof.org ...)

What is WWOOF?

WWOOF is a world wide network - It started in the UK in 1971 and has since become an international movement that is helping people share more sustainable ways of living.

WWOOF is an exchange - In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.

WWOOF organisations link people who want to volunteer on organic farms or smallholdings with people who are looking for volunteer help.

How does it work?

WWOOF organisations publish lists of organic farms, smallholdings and gardeners that welcome volunteer help at certain times. The diversity of hosts available offers a large variety of tasks and experiences.

Volunteer helpers ("WWOOFers" choose the hosts that most interest them and make direct contact to arrange a stay. Volunteers usually live as part of the family.


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Joined: Jul 13, 2009
Posts: 29
unfortunate that you have to pay money both to list your farm and volunteer at WOOF
my answer- couch surfing!
http://www.couchsurfing.org/
a website that is free, just look for someone interested in permaculture in your area, or find a farm you are interested in and save some money!
                    


Joined: Aug 24, 2009
Posts: 106
it seems to be a really good thing for all involved.  I have a friend in Texas whose organic farmer brother has wwoofers helping on a regular basis.
However,  I have not been able to find a  way for a host to sign up or contact the organisation, nothing, zilch.  Since I am not as young as I used to be and could stand a little help here and there, also could teach some young folks a few things, I thought I give it a try. 
                    


Joined: Sep 22, 2009
Posts: 5
Elfriend B here is the link for host farms.
http://www.wwoofusa.org/hosts/hosting
Paul Alfrey


Joined: Sep 25, 2009
Posts: 65
    
    5
You do not have to pay any money for the wwoofing experience in certain countries .For example we are a host farm in Bulgaria and neither us or our visitors make payments. We have only just started being a host and have met some really great people. Long live the free concept but if it does need funding i would feel obliged to help out anyway i could. 

Totally agree with EcoHouse couchsurfing is also a wonderful alternative

Happy days
Paul
http://sites.google.com/site/permaship1/
                            


Joined: Oct 07, 2009
Posts: 3
Hi, Permies-
Just wanted to let you all know the facts about WWOOF-USA.  Please take a look at our website and email with any additional questions.
-There is a $20 fee to join.  You receive online access right away, and a printed directory comes in the mail.  We are a non-profit, and we need this money in order to maintain, produce, and mail an accurate and up-to-date directory.  Soon, we will offer $5 discount if you opt out of receiving the printed directory.
-We request a $5 to $50 donation from hosts when we post their profile.
-WWOOF exists in over 50 countries worldwide.  Each organization is run independently, although we often have conferences to support each other and the emergence of new WWOOF groups in countries.
-We currently have about 1,000 farms across the USA including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
-You can do a key word search, even if you are not a member, of our directory.  Try "permaculture", and you can limit it by state if you want.  There are HUNDREDS of permie farms!
Best to you All,
Leo
WWOOF-USA
                                    


Joined: Nov 28, 2009
Posts: 17
Location: Upper Peninsula, MI
I looked into WWOOF last year and decided we just weren't big enough or exerpienced enough, yet, to offer a good learning experience.

How big and experienced do you think a farm should be before participating in WWOOF?

We've reached the point where, if we're going to do much more, we'll either need help or we'll need to quit our jobs - and we're not yet to the point where we can give up our outside incomes (getting there - eventually).

This year the 2 (occasionally 3) of us grew and processed 60 meat chickens.  We'd like to raise more but we'd need help with the processing.

We have 10 angora rabbits and would like to breed more - they do take time to groom, so we can't have too many more without help.  If we breed, I will end up needing help spinning the yarn.

We'll be building a hoop house soon - right now we've got about an acre under cultivation.  That's about all we can handle, and we'd like to get bigger.

I'd like to get a loom and start weaving some alpaca rugs - I get the fiber from a local alpaca farm.  Once again, finding the time is  difficult.

We're tied to the farm and can't vacation or even go camping unless our college son volunteers to watch the farm for a couple of days.  We'd like to start some dairy animals but that would tie us down even more.

We produce just a little more than we consume.  So - we're right on the verge of needing help.

Also - our location is so isolated.  I'm wondering if most WWOOF volunteers have their own transportation so they can go out on the weekends and meet other young people, and if they generally come in pairs.  I imagine it would be a lot of fun for a couple here, but a single person would probably get pretty lonely.

Do people usually put the volunteers up in their homes, or campers, or what?

Our son will be building an alternative home here in the next 5 years, then hopefully settle down and produce some grandchildren for our dream of the "Beautiful Happy Hippy Organic Peace Family Farm" but until then we either need to find some help or stop getting bigger.


Raising meat chickens, egg chickens, and angora rabbits, striving to grow 80% of our own food, spinning our own yarn, wildcrafting, herbal medicining, and enjoying life on Rocky Acres (fondly AKA 'The Beautiful Happy Hippy Organic Peace Family Farm)
                          


Joined: Dec 01, 2009
Posts: 211
Location: Northern California
ffarmergirl, I'm new to WWOOFing and farm interning (i.e. I'm looking for my first situation this coming spring) but as someone looking, I would be happy to consider small farms and new farmers to WWOOF with. Whether a small, new farmer or a big, established operation, what I'm looking for are people who communicate well, have realistic expectations, and seem like people who are functionally clear thinkers and planners. While I'm looking to learn to farm and homestead for real, a lot of WWOOFers aren't--they're just looking for a cheap way to see the country, and they enjoy feeding people's rabbits and chickens but aren't in it for the long haul. (or at least not yet!)

I don't have a car, but I feel in the minority here, and I'm going it alone but it sounds like many WWOOFers do travel with people. I've seen situations where people offer a room in a house, a trailer, a remodeled shed, even a tent platform and an outdoor shower. I'd be happy with a room, shared cabin, or a trailer, or a yurt or a wall tent could work too. If you are going to offer your helper a tent, though, I imagine they might expect to have to do less work in exchange for it--and it's better for the tent and the tentdweller if it's up off the ground on a tent platform.

You might also try HelpX.net--they seem to have a wider range of people looking for different situations.
                                    


Joined: Nov 28, 2009
Posts: 17
Location: Upper Peninsula, MI
Thanks for the link, Kerrick.

We don't have lodgings available for a WWOOFER yet but your reply has me thinking.  Even in the summer, heat is necessary here.  I have seen hunters using those big wall tents with a woodstove inside . . . one of those on a platform may be an idea as long as it's airtight and dry.  We have a composting toilet for it already . . . .
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15273
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
My impressions is (and folks, please correct me if I'm wrong):

For wwoofers:  they expect the place to be PURELY and PASSIONATELY organic.  They will stay for a few days or maybe a few months.  The better the digs, the longer they want to stay.  More wwoofers there usually leads to longer stays.  Way, way, way out in the sticks is usually more fun than being really close to town.

For interns:  If you have a super permaculture situation, they might pay you to be there.  If you have a wimpy situation (just getting started, or not too many other interns) you might need to have a stipend.  The norm for most organic farms is 35 hours per week and in return you provide room, board and a $30 per week stipend.

I think that if you are getting more than 90% of your food from your land, you are doing better than most farms!  I think there will be lots of interns/woofers that would REALLY enjoy some time in a place that is REALLY living off the land.  Most places get less than 10% of the food they eat from their own land.



                                    


Joined: Nov 28, 2009
Posts: 17
Location: Upper Peninsula, MI
Thanks, Paul.

I can't honestly say that we are purely and passionately organic.  We are striving[i] for it but it will be years before we can truly be organic and sustainable. 

On the farming side of things: 
- we don't use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides, at all, ever
- we buy the feed that's locally available.  If organic feed was available, we'd buy it.  We supplement with food we've grown and that's organic, of course.
- we don't medicate our chickens or rabbits - but if the egg chickens or the rabbits got some sort of communicable illness, we'd medicate them and just not eat the eggs for a while.  We wouldn't medicate meat chickens - there's no way we'd eat them then.  I take that back - the chicks get that medicated water for the first few days, but that's because we're getting them from a big hatchery.  When/if we are able to raise all of our own chickens, from all of our own eggs, then we can avoid medicating altogether.

Inside the house:
- we eat what we grow as much as we can, and buy locally when we can, but when we have to buy groceries we don't spend $ on things that are certified organic.  Our pantry is stocked with stuff we've grown ourselves and loss leaders from the grocery store.  Our budget is such that we have to do a lot of things on the cheap if we want to continue making improvements on the farm.
- we make our own laundry detergent to avoid phosphates, but it's made from borax, washing soda, and fels naptha soap - not organic
- we avoid store-bought household cleaners for the most part, and do most of our cleaning with natural homemade products, but we do possess some store-bought things that are definitelly not organic.  One can of Endust may last us 2 years, but I can't claim that we never use it.

These are just a few examples - but I feel that the religion of "purely and passionately organic" is one we can not reasonably live up to at this point in our lives, and I don't feel guilty about it.  We're growing a large portion of our own food, we're growing almost all of our fuel, and we're even growing some of our own clothes.  We're serving as a good example in our community and if everybody put as much effort as we do into living ecologically-sound lifestyles, the world would be a much better place.

The organic perfectionism that some people possess is wonderful for them, and gives them fulfillment, but it's quite intimidating to most people.  The attitude of "do it perfectly or don't do it at all" does more harm than good, in my opinion, because it causes a lot  of people to just not try at all. 

Making the move toward being organic and sustainable is a lot of work and each little baby step moves you one step closer and deserves to be applauded.  If somebody I know has done all of their shopping at Walmart for all of their life and makes the decision to start an organic vegetable garden, I'm going to keep my mouth shut about the Walmart meat they're eating and applaud them for their gardening efforts. 

I can understand why a WWOOFER would want to find a place that was purely and passionately organic to volunteer, though.  Heck - if I was volunteering my services, I'd want to learn as much as I possibly could.  A place that has achieved 100% organic sustainability would be an awesome place to really learn a lot.
                                


Joined: Aug 13, 2009
Posts: 10
Paul, interesting observations on typical WWOOFers.

I'm considering getting into it for the first time pretty soon here, barring more productive financial opportunities, but I am not nearly so strict on my requirements of organic methods, etc or...eh, to use the old cliche "crunchy granola".

I don't necessarily want to be in a situation with a bunch of yoga-doing, dred-headed hippies that have aneurysms if you pull out a bottle of windex to clean the windows. (Oh, the profiling, I know. I'm only joking. Sort of!)

I just want to learn how to produce my own food in a sustainable and affordable manner that will insure my kids can do the same, on the same land, if they so choose.

Other than couch-surfing, are there other lists or sites that anyone knows of that offers work/trade situations on sustainable farming operations? I'm very interested in the business side of sustainable ag, too, and would like to find a financially sustaining farm to intern on.

Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2253
Location: FL
    
  61
MOFGA, Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association, maintains a list of internships available in Maine. 

In the menu at the top, click on PROGRAMS.  In the drop down menu, click on FARM APPRENTICESHIPS.


Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
                            


Joined: Oct 07, 2009
Posts: 3
Hey, All-
If anyone has questions about WWOOF-USA, I am the Program Manager and can be reached at the following email:
info@wwoofusa.org
I am happy to clear up any questions or confusion.  You can also preview our entire directory online at
www.wwoofusa.org
We are a non-profit that produces a directory of farms (any growing situation that does not include the use of synthetic or chemical inputs) across the US including AK, HI, USVI and PR.  There is no typical WWOOFer or WWOOF host- that is the beauty of having clear and open conversation about hopes and expectations between potential WWOOFer and Host.
Best,
Leo
Paul Alfrey


Joined: Sep 25, 2009
Posts: 65
    
    5
Here is a list of organizations  for people wanting to volunteer and for people who are looking for volunteers.


WWOOF - http://www.wwoof.org/
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms
...living, learning, sharing organic lifestyles

Help Exchange http://www.helpx.net/
Help Exchange (HelpX) is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.

European Voluntary Service http://ec.europa.eu/youth/evs/aod/hei_en.cfm
Free of charge - long term or short term volunteering in many different European Countries (for 18 to 30 years old)- funded by EU

Diggers and Dreamers - http://www.diggersanddreamers.org.uk/index.php?one=pnv&two=pnv
A very good community volunteering resource for England

Global Ecovillage Network http://gen.ecovillage.org/iservices/index.html
Options for volunteering in ecological communities

Intentional Communities Directory http://directory.ic.org/
Possibility to volunteer in Intentional Communities

Idealist http://www.idealist.org/ -
Common resource for worldwide opportunities (Jobs, Volunteering, etc) for creating a better world.

World Volunteer Web.http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/
Huge Volunteer Resource


hope you find it useful

paul

http://sites.google.com/site/permaship1/Home
Iliya Rashev


Joined: Feb 28, 2010
Posts: 4
http://www.workaway.info/ another site for help exchange - not strictly organic
                                              


Joined: May 13, 2010
Posts: 9
paul wheaton wrote:
My impressions is (and folks, please correct me if I'm wrong):

For wwoofers:  they expect the place to be PURELY and PASSIONATELY organic.  They will stay for a few days or maybe a few months.  The better the digs, the longer they want to stay.  More wwoofers there usually leads to longer stays.  Way, way, way out in the sticks is usually more fun than being really close to town.

For interns:  If you have a super permaculture situation, they might pay you to be there.  If you have a wimpy situation (just getting started, or not too many other interns) you might need to have a stipend.  The norm for most organic farms is 35 hours per week and in return you provide room, board and a $30 per week stipend.

I think that if you are getting more than 90% of your food from your land, you are doing better than most farms!  I think there will be lots of interns/woofers that would REALLY enjoy some time in a place that is REALLY living off the land.  Most places get less than 10% of the food they eat from their own land.




Totally agree with you on this...
                              


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 1
Would you tell me if I'm eligible for wwoof?  I have hesitated joining, thinking that it might be another computer scam, with just some outdated listings.  I'm thinking of taking an early retirement at 62.  I was a member of MOFGA for years, before spending the last 15 years on the road supervising the construction of hospitals, hotels, and jails.
                            


Joined: Oct 07, 2009
Posts: 3
We are not a scam with out dated listings.  You are certainly eligible to WWOOF.  Please see our website for more information and contact me there- info@wwoofusa.org if you have any more questions!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15273
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
The wwoof stuff is not only legit, but it strikes me as bizarre that there is an abundance of wwoofers and a shortage of farms!

                                              


Joined: May 13, 2010
Posts: 9
paul wheaton wrote:
The wwoof stuff is not only legit, but it strikes me as bizarre that there is an abundance of wwoofers and a shortage of farms!




Your comment is something interesting to a conversation i had when wwoofing in kuching, sarawak on malaysian side of borneo with the owner/farmer of the place i was with.

On average he said there were an average of 3-6 enquiries a month. Most had long and detailed personal information as in their resumes. Many had questions in relation mostly to accomodation and the type of food that was served. Most also asked about working hours. Some had the oddest questions as far as asking if the toilet was 'modern', off because this was asked even though he gave them his website as a kink for them to see themself's.

Of these enquiries he has only got a total of a dozen wwoof'ers and of these there were also 'horror' stories one of which i was a witness of. The majority fall silent after the first email and some even confirm and give flight details weeks ahead and then they are a no show when he waits at the airport.

There are the wwoof'ers who work very hard and there is still one on his property for 2 months now and will be there until november. This wwoof'er also mentioned of the 'quality' of wwoof'ers that he has seen pass through the farm. There are those who wake up way pass the hour and only put in a very few hours. There are those who seem very spoilt even just standing around waiting for the meal to be served not lifting a finger even if it is laying the table or helping to clear later after meals. He laughed when telling me where some wwoof'er found it difficult to even help hold the wheel barrow while goat droppings were loaded to fertilise the garden. Let's not mention he said of a couple whose wife held on to the nail cup while her husband nailed the wire fence for the garden. This went on for 3 days! You do not need help to have someone hold the nail cup for you!

I think many wwoof'ers think think that wwoof'ing is perhaps a romantic notion but many come from backgrounds that do not mean they have come from an enviroment that suits them to a farm where manual labour is the norm and long hours is the usual not to forget farms in the tropics have a climate that might be too much for them.

The owner/farmer was asked how was he going to tackle wwoof'ers and these problems from no shows and 'softies' as he put it from then on? He said no one is perfect and he did not expect much from wwoof'ers in term of the quality of their contributions as they all come from different backgrounds and upbringings. His door is open to anyone who is respectful but beware. He tells all new incoming wwoof'ers that they are welcomed for as long as they don't see him digging a hole big enough to bury them, which had me a good laugh!

Interestingly enough the long term wwoof'er i was mentioning about was given a weekly allowance. Bit surprising but the owner/farmer said the bloke deserved it as he put in as many hours and worked as hard as anyone on the farm.

                                              


Joined: May 13, 2010
Posts: 9
pzokes wrote:
Would you tell me if I'm eligible for wwoof?  I have hesitated joining, thinking that it might be another computer scam, with just some outdated listings.  I'm thinking of taking an early retirement at 62.  I was a member of MOFGA for years, before spending the last 15 years on the road supervising the construction of hospitals, hotels, and jails.


I don't see any reason why anyone with your age and extensive experience should not be able to wwoof? Going wwoof'ing does not all the time mean hard manual work. It can also include a lot of other things from seed sowing, vegetable transplanting, grafting, fertilising and so forth. With your case there is always many thing that need fixing around a farm from sticky doors, loose planks, extra shelves in the work shed or even building simple sheds. Always lots to do!

I encourage you to become a wwoof'er and put the word out that you have all that experience to share with us.

Happy wwoof'ing!
Kathy McGowan


Joined: Dec 05, 2010
Posts: 37
Hi - I've just joined this conversation - I've had a steady stream of volunteers at my place in Bulgaria for the last 4 years. I've never noticed any difference at all between people who come via WWOOF or via Helpx (most of my volunteers) or direct from my website.  I'm really clear on my website what I expect, what they can expect and what the very basic facilities are and I've found that reading it, sifts out the people who aren't into work or who are high maintenance.

My volunteers have ranged in age from 69 to 5years - its mostly been good - certainly challenging but I couldn't have done what I have with out them.

But while I support the concept, I do not support the structure of WWOOF. Where a national WWOOF organisation is running independently, it is unaccountable to anyone. If that organisation decides to act undemocratically or embark on other activities, there is nothing to be done. Its not like a franchise where you have to stick to set of rules and guidelines - you can use the name and run it as you wish.

I also think that the word 'farm' is too limiting. I manage my land biodynamically and ethically and I need volunteers to help me but I'm not a farmer and I dont have a farm.

Kathy
www.stjamespark.biz
                      


Joined: Dec 26, 2010
Posts: 1
We're just starting a wwoofing farm on an organic farm and permaculture technology. Wwoof in Bulgaria, just north of Plovdiv, the second largest city in the country's centre. Quaint village with lots of things to do. Easy launch point to discover the rest of this beautiful country.
http://001yourtranslationservice.com/travel-Europe/wwoofers-wwoofing-in-bulgaria.htm

We're also going to offer rooms for tourists who want to eat healthy and enjoy the experience without doing any work. Interesting concept!

Eco tourism has been increasing by 10-15% annually, reflecting the interest by consumers to help save our planet. One good way to do this is to stay at organic farms, where the food you eat is grown. You can stay out in nature and enjoy the fresh air. Additionally, people in rural areas tend to be more genuine, honest and giving than city folk. Not only will you enjoy clean air, living and healthy food, but you can experience the real culture of the country you are visiting. If you come to Bulgaria we would love to host you.

[url=http://001yourtranslationservice.com/travel-Europe/country-links/Bulgaria/Eco- Travel-as-a-Tourist-to-Organic-Farm-in-Bulgaria_Healthy-Holiday-Tourism-for-Vegans-Vegetarians-and-Green-Minded-Travelers-and-Tourists.html]http://001yourtranslationservice.com/travel-Europe/country-links/Bulgaria/Eco- Travel-as-a-Tourist-to-Organic-Farm-in-Bulgaria_Healthy-Holiday-Tourism-for-Vegans-Vegetarians-and-Green-Minded-Travelers-and-Tourists.html
Haru Yasumi


Joined: Apr 29, 2010
Posts: 102
Permaship - thank you for your listing of other resources asides from WWOOF.  I am currently looking for WWOOF or some other similar community arrangement for myself for sometime in the next year or two.  Looking for a job in the meantime too which is always a major head and heart ache.

I am definitely from a privileged background but hope I don't fall into the undesirable WWOOFer category like some stories I've heard - I managed to work landscaping for a couple years so I figure I can work my body a bit extra for something I actually believe in.  Hoping I can find somewhere that's a good fit eventually


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