WTH is WWOOFing?

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Illustration by Georgia Hatchett

From the time I was a small kid, I’ve always wanted to travel. I’ve wanted to see the world in cool ways. I’ve wanted to be a part of something that I never thought I could. Thanks to the crushing financial realities of a college education (and just living in general), travel seems like a Herculean feat nowadays. But, thanks to a trend that started in 1971 and is now making a comeback, the dog days of not being able to travel are back, and you could start WWOOFing.

WWOOF, like all cool organization names, is an acronym. Its meaning has changed over time: It’s been World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, Willing Workers on Organic Farms, We’re Welcome on Organic Farms. The phrase that is paramount in understanding the art of WWOOFing is “organic farms.”

WWOOFing is a combination of hardcore farming and Airbnb travel. WWOOFing allows mere mortals like you and me to travel the world; in exchange, we help a host on their organic farm do a plethora of tasks, from sowing seeds, to cutting wood, to making bread, etc. The exchange in most countries (according to the WWOOF International website) is 4–6 hours of help for a full day’s food and accommodation.

WWOOFing is an international activity, with over 100 countries worldwide to volunteer in. The first step in your WWOOFing adventure is to decide where you’re going. If you find a farm in a country where you are interested in helping out, you enroll in the WWOOF program as a volunteer and then directly talk to the host farm of your choice and arrange your visit. How easy is that?

Now comes the favorite part of planning an international (or domestic) excursion: payment. Money. Moolah. That elusive thing that very few college students can come by easily. In order to successfully WWOOF your way around the world, you’ve got to be able to pay for it out of pocket. I know. Woof. But, there is hope. The subscription fee in the countries you want to visit can range from $0–72, which isn’t too bad.

I think the coolest thing about WWOOFing is that you and your host decide on how long you will be WWOOFing. You could WWOOF for a few days or a few months. There is no age limit on whether or not WWOOFing is right for you. So, for us folk who are lifelong wanderlusts with a desire to travel, as long as we’re physically able to work 4–6 hours on a farm, we can go when we’re in our 20s or in our 60s.

WWOOFing sounds like a really interesting option for travelers, experienced or not. What a cool way to see the world and also help the environment. Lord knows we need intrepid people to help make a change in the world. For 4–6 hours of farming, I get to stay in a country I’ve never visited before? Sign me up. Eat your heart out, Rick Steves!

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