Want to live and learn on organic farms worldwide? Want to share your life with other like-minded people?
WWOOF is a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange, thereby helping to build a sustainable, global community.
As a volunteer (or WWOOFer as we call them) you will live alongside your host helping with daily tasks and experiencing life as a farmer.
As a host farm, you will open your home to receive visitors from your own country or abroad who want to connect with the land and support the organic movement.
We talked with one of the coordinators at WWOOF to learn more about the project.
Who started the project?
WWOOF came to life in the early 1970s when a woman named Sue Coppard began the first WWOOF group. In 1973, Sue took a year off, and in the meantime WWOOF continued to expand under the team which had taken over from her. In the following years, new WWOOF organizations began to spring up worldwide. Autonomous WWOOF groups started to operate in different countries, with their own ways of organization.
WWOOF originally stood for Working Weekends On Organic Farms, and that’s how it started. WWOOF now stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and it is a worldwide movement linking visitors with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange thereby helping to build a sustainable global community.
What was the inspiration and creative mind behind this?
The following is a quote from Sue Coppard: “When I first dreamed up WWOOF, back in 1971, I hadn’t the remotest notion it would one day become a thriving, worldwide network with members from so many countries criss-crossing the globe! But WWOOF answers the needs of so many people it had to happen; contact with nature is the psychological equivalent of vitamin C. I feel that WWOOF chose me as its channel – a London secretary with no rural friends or family but pining for the countryside as I watched the autumn leaves blowing along the pavement.”
Tell us a little bit about your road to joining the project.
My name is Basil Black and I am only one of the many people who are dedicating their lives to coordinating the WWOOF movement.
I grew up on a small farm in central Italy where I learnt much of what I know about farming.
Back then I felt isolated and kind of in the middle of nowhere. But since our farm joined the WWOOF network about 15 years ago, that isolation was broken and we have since hosted hundreds of incredible people from all over the world.
At the age of 18 I set off on my own WWOOFing adventure and I’ll never forget my very first WWOOFing experience that consisted of herding goats in the great wilderness of the Yukon Territories.
Since then, I WWOOFed all over the world and still today I cannot imagine traveling to a new land without WWOOFing at a few places. It is by far the best way to immerse oneself in a new culture and learn about where food comes from.
Before working as a coordinator for WWOOF Independents, I was fortunate to be involved in the formation of FoWO (Federation of WWOOF Organisations).
At a local level, I have always been involved in the coordination of WWOOF Italy, which is a truly inspiring network of people.
How will it transform in the future?
It is hard to say, but since the formation of FoWO, WWOOF organizations globally are now coming together and cooperating more and more in order to protect the values and mission of this movement.
It is possible that one day in the near future, WWOOF will be an ever more unified international charity, yet still preserving the precious diversity within each national organization.
Have you made any conscious consideration about the project?
Considering the amount of new farmers who engage in this noble lifestyle as a result of WWOOF experiences...Yes! This fact gives me hope for a better world.
Learn more about the project on http://wwoof.net/#wwoof