WWOOF is a UK registered charity that holds a list of organic farms, gardens and smallholdings, all offering food and accommodation in exchange for practical help on their land.These hosts range from a low impact woodland settlement to a 600 hectare mixed holding with on-site farm shop, cafe and education centre.
Hosts do not expect their visitors to know a lot about farming when they arrive, but they hope their guests will be willing to learn and able to fit in with their daily running. It forms a friendly symbiosis allowing people to stop on a real organic farm free of charge so they can learn the techniques and enjoy the hard working and down-to-earth lifestyle. For people who love activity holidays and need a get-away on a tight budget, this could be just the option to provide a refreshing break from the office or factory floor.
The host farms benefit from willing volunteers who have a genuine interest in their organic practices and standards. “WWOOFing” is a great way to spread the word that organic produce and production are both good for people and the land. It gives rise to healthy working, healthy food and can set up lasting friendships.
WWOOF UK works by providing a list of hosts is which you can get by joining for a very reasonable membership fee.Once members have the list, it is up to them to contact hosts and arrange a stay. Members and hosts can then arrange what kinds of activities “WWOOFers” can take part in, what type of accommodation is on offer and the length of their stay.
The charity clearly points out that after the membership is paid WWOOFers do not pay to stay with hosts and hosts do not pay WWOOFers for their help, all activities are for mutual and not monetary benefit. For more details about how it all works visit the website.
WWOOF (Working Weekends on Organic Farms, as it stood for then)was born in 1971, when Sue Coppard organised a trial weekendfor herself and three other Londoners on an organic farm in East Sussex.Sue arranged a deal with the farmer: they would help out with work that needed doing on the land in exchange for food and accommodation. The weekend was so successful that it became a regular trip, every third weekend.
News gradually spread of ‘Sue Coppard’s Land Army’, and other organic farms got in touch, all keen to offer their hospitality in exchange for help from willing volunteers.
Today, WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms: a truly global phenomenon with over 6,000 hosts in 88 countries.
WWOOF UK became a charity in 2008. Withnearly 400hosts in the UK and membership rising sharply year on year, it can’t be long before the verb ‘to wwoof’ makes it into the Oxford English Dictionary.