source - Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel Online
Daily Newsletter
Wednesday, June 30, 1999
 Article 3 of 6  

"WWOOFing It": Volunteer on an Organic Farm and Pay Nothing For Room and Board Almost Anywhere in the World
If you have ever entertained the idea of living with a family abroad or spending your vacation doing volunteer work, you may want to investigate WWOOF, an organization that arranges volunteer opportunities working on organic farms all over the world. As a WWOOFer, you farm with your host family for 3 to 6 hours per day, and in return, receive free room and board. Although the type of work varies according to each individual farm, possible responsibilities include picking fruit, herding sheep, milking cows, baking bread and painting the farmhouse. Most WWOOFers spend around a week on one farm (before either heading home or heading off to a different farm), but the minimum stay is only 2 nights (while the maximum stay could be six months or more depending on the individual arrangement between the host family and the volunteer). WWOOF was founded in England in 1972 as "Working Weekends On Organic Farms," a program designed principally for city dwellers, offering short volunteer opportunities at BioDynamic Emerson College Farm in Sussex. The WWOOFing experience became so popular, however, that the length of time spent on the farm grew longer. Concurrently, national WWOOF organizations were created in New Zealand, the United States and Australia, using the same acronym, but now signifying "Willing Workers on Organic Farms." At present, the worldwide list of WWOOFing nations includes 50 countries (and over 600 farms) in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. To become a WWOOFer, you must join the WWOOF organization in the country where you want to work. For between $10 and $20 (it varies by country), you become a member, and in doing so, receive the membership book which lists all the farms accepting volunteers. You are responsible for making your own bookings with the farm of your interest; you arrange the starting and ending dates of your stay. Most farms treat WWOOFers as guests; the volunteers have active roles in determining the amount and type of work they are assigned. WWOOF's primary aim is to encourage people to learn the art of organic growing. WWOOF also recognizes and firmly advocates the cultural exchange aspects of their program. By living and working with a family in Australia, Ireland, Ghana or Japan, they say, you are granted an intimate understanding of life in a foreign country, without having to pay large sums of money. The only costs of a WWOOF experience are the initial membership fee and the travel expenses involved in getting to your farm of choice. To learn more about WWOOF, see WWOOF International's Web site at, which lists all of the countries carrying a national WWOOF organization. You can also write to WWOOF International, PO Box 2675, Lewes BN7 1RB, England, UK.

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