Have you heard about WWOOF? If not, you’re missing out! WWOOF is a website dedicated to connecting volunteers to organic farms in their area. You can visit their website at www.wwoofusa.org.
When I first heard about this quirky idea, I had to try it for myself! When you sign up, WWOOF requires a small annual fee (mine was about $50), and you are given a profile and instant access to thousands of organic farms. I immediately found several in my local area, and contacted the owners to volunteer for a day.
Why volunteer this way, you may ask?
What better way to connect to the source of our food production than to gain the knowledge and experience of organic farming and help out a farmer! I love to see the many different permaculture, aquaponics, alternative energy, and other off-grid projects that people are working on their own land. It’s exciting to learn about how it all works and to be a part of it.
Many people use WWOOF as a “voluntourism” opportunity, which it is perfect for. If you haven’t heard of voluntourism, it’s when people that want to travel and have a place to stay use volunteer opportunities to provide such. Keep in mind many WWOOF hosts are opening their home to you, and it’s important to uphold a good work ethic and mannerisms when you are a guest there. When it comes to helping, often it’s better for everyone involved if you stay for more than just a single day. Some of the hosts offer an extra bed to sleep in, or simply some land to camp on while you’re volunteering for them. If you set everything up right, you could travel the country by organizing your stays with several WWOOF hosts along your travel path.
What was my experience WWOOFing?
My experience was fantastic. My host and I coordinated the weekend that I would volunteer on their ranch. The ranch was located near Santa Fe, NM. When I arrived they were still awaiting their materials to arrive, but this allowed me to get a tour of the property and learn everything about the family that owned this ranch and their goal to create a permaculture environment. They showed me the windmill, grey water system, solar panels, and soil reclamation projects. I got to see first-hand what these projects actually look like. I also learned some valuable masonry skills helping them to build the aquaponics water cistern that would one day provide a source of fresh fish and produce.
Here are a few pictures I took of this Aquaponics system early-stages project:
Apart from the common volunteering platforms, WWOOF is a fantastic way to volunteer through travel, build foundational skills, and give back to local organic farmers. I couldn’t recommend it more as a way to serve your community.
Try it out and share your experience with us!