Working on an organic farm as a volunteer - WWOOF
Are you interested in alternative ways of living? Are you passionate about organic food and/or sustainable agriculture? Are you keen on working for a time in exchange for food and accommodation? Would you like to meet interesting people and learn new skills?
If you have answered some of the above questions with YES, then WWOOFing may be for you!
What is WWOOF?
WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is an exchange where volunteers receive food, accommodation and can learn about organic lifestyles in return for their help at an organic farm or small dwelling.
How does it work?
As a WWOOFer, you will be expected to join in and participate in the day-to-day activities, four to six hours per day, five days per week.
Your host will organise your accommodation, either in his/her house, in a wooden cabin, tent or purpose-built accommodation. Often volunteers on a farm will share accommodation and prepare their meals together.
What kind of work will you be doing?
You may be asked to help with tasks such as sowing seed, making compost, gardening, planting, cutting wood, weeding, harvesting, packing, milking, feeding, fencing, making mud-bricks, wine making, cheese making and bread making.
On some farms you may be also asked to look after children or to help with cooking or cleaning.
How long can you stay at the farm?
The length of your stay at the farm is negotiated directly between you and your host.
Some hosts will be happy for you to stay even for one week or two whereas other may require a minimum stay of one month or longer.
Is it free?
You may have to pay a subscription fee – depending on the country it may be anything between 0 and € 50.00 - to have access to the database of hosting farms.
You will also have to pay for your own travel costs and insurance during your stay.
Do I need a visa?
As an Irish citizen you do not need a visa for the EU countries. The non-EU countries may have different visa requirements, so you need to check with the relevant WWOOF organisation.
In general it is up to the volunteer to research and arrange any visas required for their WWOOFing stay.
What is the minimum age required to become a WWOOFer?
Most WWOOF groups require you to be 18 years old, but some WWOOF groups also take younger people. Currently WWOOF Canada, WWOOF Portugal, WWOOF Italy and WWOOF Ireland take people at 17 years old, though sometimes a letter of consent from your parent or guardian is required. Other WWOOF groups like WWOOF Switzerland say it is up to each individual farmer.
WWOOF Turkey requires you to be 20 years old.
How to start?
The first step of your WWOOFing experience is to choose your destination and join the relevant WWOOF organization. Many countries will have their own WWOOF branch. As a member you will be able to access a database of farms in your chosen country and start making plans.
It is then your responsibility to make direct contact with a host farm of your choice to arrange a mutually convenient time for your visit.