You're full of energy. You've got energy to burn. You want to burn it in the fields, give it away to all the lovely people you meet the world over. Do adventure the organic way.
Or you're lonely, you're far from home. All you want to do is a bit of weeding, fork the compost and get your hands in the soil. What you really want is to be loved with some yummy nurturing organic food, to be tucked up in a nice homely bed, to commune with some like minded souls.
Dreams are free!
But hold on, there just might be a way...
Allover the world there are organic farms looking for willing workers in exchange for food and bed. Imagine staying in a hand-crafted loghouse while enjoying the company of a community of artists, musicians and gardeners, or relaxing after hours in a wood fired sauna with the soon to be fulfilled promise of a large library of books and music...
In New Zealand, there are over 550 WWOOF farms where workers find themselves doing anything from herding sheep, planting, weeding or harvesting fruit, flowers or vegetables, making bread, jam and preserves, planting trees, milking the cow, making cheese and yoghurt, maybe even painting the farm house, entertaining the host's children or cooking the evening meal.
New Zealand's Wwoofing website has a page of photos and also a forum which among other posts, lists a car for sale, people looking for both Wwoofers and hosts, drivers' licencing queries and anything else on the NZ topic. This website also has members only areas which include an on-line Wwoof book and a host Hotlist.
What's a WWoofer?
Wwoofing is a way to combine organics with travel - or if you've got organic land, staying at home while the travellers come to you.
WWOOF is short for Willing Workers on Organic Farms - and also the name of the organisation which matches up the organic farms with the willing workers.
Intending Wwoofers register with the organisation and select the places they want to visit from a list of host properties - those growers which have put their names down.
The International Wwoof Association website has a list of FAQs and general background info for the intending Wwoofer. The organisation says the aims of Wwoofing are:
- To give you first hand experience of organic or other ecologically-sound growing methods - you don't have to have previous experience.
- To give you experience of life in the countryside
- To help the organic movement which is labour intensive and does not rely on artificial fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides.
- To give people a chance to meet, talk, learn and exchange views with others in the organic movement
- To provide you with an opportunity to learn about life in the host country by living, and working together
The organisation says that WWOOF hosts are mainly pursuing a simple, sustainable, lifestyle. Many are practising Permaculture or Bio-dynamic growing methods. Some farms are commercial producers, whether full or part time; others are alternative co-operatives or communities.
Wwoof Australia has 1200 organic farms and a forum.
Wwoof Canada has a list of farms in each region with a description of each place to tempt the Wwoofer. For instance, you could stay at a destination which offers a "Hand-crafted loghouse and various woodcraft cottages on 168 river front acres, near headwaters of Fraser River in beautiful Robson Valley. Purpose: to create a harmonious community of independent artists, musicians, gardeners, etc. working together for freedom and self-sufficiency." or find yourself tempted by the following: "Two rooms are available in a heritage farm house, with a large library of books and music. A wood fired sauna is also available on the property. We eat organic, primarily vegetarian food and welcome your culinary input." Or for the horse lover - "A typical workday involves morning and evening feedings, cleaning paddocks and assisting in grooming, exercising and training. Workdays vary in length but always time to relax and play. You will have your own private camper for sleeping."
The listings are presented without contact details because you have to register to get those, and also you generally need to contact the farms in advance, at which point you might like to ask what the conditions are - ie what are the expected hours of work. Generally, the organisation suggests six hours a day, six days a week, or it may be 4-5 hours a day.
To get WWoof sites for individual countries, see the international site or use a search engine.