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What about WWOOF?
February 27, 2007 1:11 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone WWOOFed? I'm thinking seriously about volunteering on an organic farm through WWOOF and would like to hear experiences and prepare myself.

I am still in the early stages of planning, but right now I'm aiming for the olive harvest in the south of Spain, so Nov/Dec/Jan of 2007-08. But the location is not set in stone so if anyone has experience with a specific WWOOF site, I would love to hear about it, especially if it's in a Spanish-speaking country.

Yes, I've seen this question. And of course there is the WWOOF site itself.
posted by veggieboy to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
My boyfriend WWOOFed in Hawaii and ended up being disappointed because there wasn't really any farm work for him to do. Instead his farm ended up being a cheap place to stay. Other than this, however, it was a positive experience. Just be aware that the amount of work will vary greatly depending on the particular farm you visit.
posted by puffin at 3:16 AM on February 27, 2007


I haven't done it, but I met someone in New Zealand who had been doing it for six months all over the country. She loved it. She mainly assisted with stone fruit picking, barn repair and various other tasks.
posted by necessitas at 7:28 AM on February 27, 2007


I did it in Hawaii and had a blast. In fact, I'm the asker of the question you reference. So here's my answer: One of the top 5 things I have ever done. Here's my (now) wife's blog about our experiences. I think that we lucked out in a huge way by being a) together - else I think it might have been more lonely b) in Hawaii - amazing place and c) at our farm, which was very low key and had great variety of things to do.

I think you should do some research before you head out and answer the following questions:

- How much would it cost me to live backpacker style in the area / country I want to. For this reason, I think WWOOFing works best in countries and places that are expensive. Spain is pretty expensive after the euro, but I would check to see what it would cost to get a cheap place for a month or two in one of the rural places you'd be. You might find that the economics don't work out. Boy do they ever in some first world places (U.S., Vancouver Canada, Europe) -- My 25 hours / week work trade was for a $100 / night room (easy) and 1 (big, hearty, fun, comnunal) meal per day. So I think that we made out like bandits.

- What kind of community do you want? I mean community in the broadest sense here. The community on the farm could be very small (the farm couple and you) or it could be 10-20 people. Having more people can mean less learning about farming (big farms have lots of rote work, smaller farms have more variety), and all the drama that comes with human-beings, but hey, drama is fun. Esp. if it's only for a few months. We picked a farm that had other wwoofers on it. That was a great decision in retrospect. Our farm was also small 2-3 acres (more like a huge yard). This meant that there were lots of things to do, not just row after row of the same vegetable / fruit for months at a time.

- Related: Do you want to learn about running a farm? If you're wwoofing just to have an experience that's great. Other wwoofers are thinking about starting their own farms and want to see the inside of an organic farm operation. Be clear about what you want to get out of it. My wife and I, along with our cohorts, were not so much interested in running farms of our own, but instead communing with nature, doing something awesome, and becoming better people, and, for us, seeing lots of Hawaii. Our schedule afforded us time to travel. One of the other wwoofers had a car. And the farm owner and managers both had cars too. So we got into town a lot.

We spent about $500 / person at our farm, which included everything that we did (surf board rental, food at the grocery store, gas for the car sometimes, a concert here and a shopping trip there). In Hawaii, one can hitch-hike freely so that saved a ton of money. But you have to budget for your own travel, your own food (weekly supply trips!), and necessities. Make sure you come to an understanding quickly about what is expected for the "on" times and how much "off" time you'll get. We got to travel around quite a bit, and if you're in southern spain, you should get around too(!). It's beautiful there, and the people of southern spain are very nice.

Good luck!
posted by zpousman at 9:01 AM on February 27, 2007 [7 favorites]


My brother did in California. He picked it mostly because of the location, but it was a weird situation. He was the only person there aside from the owner, and the owner was a bit of a jerk. It was a beautiful, quiet and peaceful location.

I would just suggest you research the place you go thoroughly and try to talk to people who have been at that farm.
posted by hazyspring at 11:56 AM on February 27, 2007


I did it in italy and it was wonderful. zpousman has some good advice. all i would add is, have some contact with the people on the farm you're going to before you go so you can make sure that, at least on the surface, they aren't crazy.

also, don't go in with expectations about the kind of work you're going to be doing. farms have all sorts of things that need to get done, many not directly associated with the primary output of the farm (i worked on vineyard, but i didn't do much with grapes, for example).
posted by christy at 1:45 PM on February 27, 2007


I WWOOFed in the southwest of England for three weeks last summer, and had an amazing time. I was a little worried about the physical aspect of it (and my overall lack of knowledge with anything not urban), so chose a fairly low-key organic B&B with a large garden. I spent part of my time shoveling compost, and part of my time making beds, and the rest of the time exploring the beautiful English countryside. I have heard that WWOOF experiences vary drastically, so it might be helpful to pick a farm that has other WWOOF-participating farms in close proximity. That way, if you're not happy where you end up, you have some other options near by. Best of luck!
posted by saratravels at 2:07 PM on February 27, 2007


Thank you all very much for the advice, and for giving me some things to think about (including some things to avoid).
posted by veggieboy at 3:59 PM on February 27, 2007


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