WWOOFers Weigh In

linneafarm.jpgI wrote a while ago about WWOOF, World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which offers a range of programs to independent travellers, from volunteer/work stays, to training programs, to just-drop-by visits. The post links to the story of Chris Smaje, who spent some time volunteering at organic farms in the Pacific Northwest, and wrote about his experiences — which ranged from educational to annoying to bewildering to inspirational.

BootsnAll’s Vagabonding Travel Forum has been hosting an ongoing chat about these programs for a while now. SurfingDan weighs in: “I wwoofed in Italy and LOVED the experience. It was backbreaking work to be sure, but I went to bed every night stuffed on pasta and veggies and endless amounts of wine. If you really want to work and not treat it as a holiday or free room and board situation, you’ll love it. Otherwise, you stand to be disappointed I think.”

Others share stories of experiences that range from dreary to (mostly) amazingly great. Ratguy worked on a horse farm about an hour outside of Auckland. “My hosts are from the UK, and treated me very well… an amazing room and very tasty food,” he says. “They also taught me how to train horses, and I went on a few rides during the evening. I absolutely loved my experience and still stay in contact with my hosts.”

And some sage advice from go-girl: “Be sure to ask about toilet facilies before you go! We just left one where the guy just had a hole in the ground to use for a toilet. He sort of neglected to say anything about it until well after we got there.”

These seasoned travellers have a lot more to say … check out the Forum, and if you have questions to ask, it’s easy to sign up for free and join the conversation.

Also, they point out that WWOOF is not the only organization offering such arrangments. Some have used a program called Help Exchange, others tried organicvolunteers.com, they all seem to work about the same.

If you decide to give this a try, be sure to share your own experience on our Forum boards, there are lots of interested fellow travellers out there.