Volunteering: what’s a Wwoofer?

Article published on Aug. 5, 2009
Article published on Aug. 5, 2009
They can repair a tractor in Poland, make goats cheese in Chile, pick brussel sprouts in Belgium or olives in Spain, build a wooden shelter and dry-pit toilets in Finland or herd cows on horseback in Bolivia. And plenty more besides for the 'worldwide opportunities on organic farms' moniker

The Wwoof acronym stands for 'willing worker on organic farms', or in other words, a voluntary worker on organic farms. The term ‘worker’ can pose problems depending on each country’s legislation, therefore is sometimes changed to 'world wide opportunities on organic farms.' There’s something for everyone, even if the volunteers are generally of a Wwoofing nature. Woofing is defined, for example, by an interest in organic farming and alternative ways of living that respect the environment. In fact all the farms that are part of the network adhere to organic farming standards. A certain affinity for community living and for intercultural encounters can help you get the most out of the experience, even though the situations are so diverse that you are just as likely to find yourself alone in a cabin at the bottom of a garden, like a bear buried away in its den. Anything else? Oh yes; not being afraid of ants and being able to live a week without a nightclub. In short, even the smallest inclination for country living is an essential prerequisite.

Even the smallest inclination for country living is an essential prerequisite

The most important thing is to have a taste for voluntary work; the 'operators' generally offer room and board in exchange for a few hours work a day, other payment is not common. With regard to the intensity of work, this varies a lot; although I lazed around a lake in Chile, with ten minutes of work here and there, in the north of Argentina it was gruelling eight-hour days of weeding in full sun.

To each their farm

The settings are very mixed, each person can go and read the summaries of the posts on the internet, after handing over their thirty dollars (21 euros or £18) beforehand. Certain countries have put together a national list, which shows the farms taking part in the scheme, others have been put together onto an independent list. In any case, take on the adventure and you’ll come back tanned, toned, mutilingual, and perhaps sick of country life and keen to rent a flat in the city, or maybe even ready to set up your own organic farm to open to Wwoofers!