Author Topic: WWOOF'ing?  (Read 5237 times)

DagobertDuck

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WWOOF'ing?
« on: June 28, 2016, 04:20:37 AM »
Maybe slightly offtopic, but does anyone have any experience with wwoofing? (http://wwoofinternational.org)

Seems like a nice, cheap and pretty risk-free to live in a nice place for a while and hone my badass skills (gardening, carpentry, fencing etc etc)

Experience? Ideas? Opinions?
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 04:30:45 AM by DagobertDuck »

Mongoose

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2016, 05:51:15 AM »
I don't but Scrubbyfish does. She's got a a journal where you might catch up with her.

jawisco

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2016, 07:08:06 AM »
I did it for (6) months in France with (4) different placements.  It is a great way to get to know a country or language or learn new skills. 

Every placement is different and best to communicate  what you are looking for and what you can contribute before signing on.  It requires flexibility and a good attitude, but is really a great way to see new things and have new experiences in a frugal fashion. 

For me, who was interested in learning the language and experiencing home -cooked food, it was amazing.

mozar

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2016, 09:19:35 AM »
I woofed for 2 months in new Zealand. I was miserable, it felt like slave labor. As far as I know, there isn't a way to get reviews for different places. Hosts can vary wildly. There is agrotourism which is only living on a farm. Woofing can be anything. One place I sold fruit by the side of the road, another was just weeding

NextTime

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2016, 09:24:40 AM »
Sounds very cool.

Looks like there are a few local farms within 50 miles of me. Might be fun and interesting to try it for a day.

Trudie

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2016, 12:44:02 PM »
I had thought about doing this, but would take seriously the input of anyone who says they had a miserable experience or that it was like slave labor.  I've heard others mention going such places and feeling "unsafe."  I'm not saying this is the experience of everyone, nor that you can't go and have a wonderful experience.... But since you can't review the hosts, red flags really go up for me.

I asked myself what it was I was really looking for out of the experience and the truth is that if I want to learn about organic gardening I have the resources to pursue that closer to home.  If I want to study languages and cultures, I'd rather do that at either a language camp or through a structured volunteer program with a reputable organization.

I have also considered (as part of a bona fide spiritual retreat) helping out in the gardens and kitchens of a monastery or Quaker retreat center while on site.  But I would set this up carefully before arriving so that I could be helpful and also get something out of it.

scrubbyfish

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2016, 01:15:57 PM »
...Scrubbyfish does.

Yep :)    I've WWOOFed in Europe, Latin America, across Canada, etc. Some host sites and activities I prefer more than others, but I would easily stay at one of my favourites long term (as I sort of do now). Here's my recent blog post on it: https://financialtipsforthebroke.com/2016/05/27/free-vacation-highlights/

DagobertDuck

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2016, 02:23:40 PM »
Thanks for the info, any input is welcome!

Inspiring blog post scrubby, thank you!

I've been saving for a while, steadily pairing down my possession, so I guess I'm ready to take the leap pretty soon and quit my daytime job (man I feel miserable there) and go 'somewhere' to see pretty places, meet new people, and do something different than staring at screens, filling in forms and attending useless meetings.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 03:57:44 PM by DagobertDuck »

senorpanqueque

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2016, 02:29:21 PM »
Yeah, I'd heed the warnings from those who have had bad experiences - seems to be no real reliable way to know if you'll have a good/bad, or safe/unsafe experience. My wife and a friend did one 5 or so years ago while in university in Panama. They had a blast, but hearing some of their stories, seemed very unsafe. For example, arriving in Panama City, the instructions they received were basically "2 guys will pick you up at this cafe" with no additional information. Worked out okay at the end of the day, but let's just say I wouldn't let my daughters do it without quite a bit more info.

DagobertDuck

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2016, 02:56:27 PM »
Thanks. I'm a guy in my early 30's, and the country I'm considering (Norway) is among the safest and most civilised countries in the world, so I'm not concerned at all about safety :-)

Alf91

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2016, 03:33:43 PM »
I WWOOF-ed quite a while ago, would have been around 2002-ish. Here in Canada, at a few different places. It was a wonderful experience for me - met some great people (and animals!), learned a lot about gardening, animal care, etc. I generally worked an 8 hour day doing various things depending on which place I was at - planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, feeding animals, cooking, animal care, selling at the local market, etc. Always had evenings free to do whatever. My hosts were great, very accommodating, and great cooks too!

neophyte

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2016, 10:20:45 PM »
I find the idea fascinating, but I've heard some first hand accounts of bad experiences and feeling like they were essentially treated as slaves (oddly enough also in New Zealand, or maybe it was Australia?) that are scaring me off.   Why is it that there are no reviews? It seems like that would naturally be something WWOOFers would want to create.

scrubbyfish

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2016, 11:28:14 PM »
Why is it that there are no reviews? It seems like that would naturally be something WWOOFers would want to create.

That's an awesome idea! I agree this should be in place, as with AirBnB, etc.

In Canada at least, some hosts are removed from the listings if there are certain kinds of complaints, so there's at least one level of that.

I've definitely never been treated like a slave at any, in any of the countries I've WWOOFed in. At several, the hosts were the opposite, insisting that they do all cleaning-type work (chick hutches, etc). Then the host and I debate the appropriateness of WWOOFers doing this, as I am very happy to do it and they can hardly believe their ears :)

SimplyMarvie

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2016, 09:29:06 AM »
We're considering it, but in the US and as a family. Basically, we have a legally mandated period we have to be in the states between jobs, and nowhere to go since none of our families can house all five of us. I was considering finding a WWOOF placement that allows kids and would take us for that amount of time. It's probably silly and romantic, but I don't really care if we're crashing in a yurt or a tent or what, so long as I don't have to organize anything, and it's not going to be opening a siphon in our bank account, like the last time we did it.

Shane

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2016, 11:29:01 AM »
20+ years ago my wife and I volunteered as WWOOFers on several farms in New England and had great experiences. Sometimes it was hard work and long hours, but we were always fed well and ended up learning interesting things and having good experiences everywhere we went. I highly recommend the program as a way of inexpensively seeing the world and learning new skills.

For the past ~20 years my wife and I have hosted WWOOFers on our own farm in Hawaii, and we've had mostly good experiences. We've met WWOOFers from all over the world who have made our lives more interesting and helped out a lot with farm work.

The WWOOFHawaii.org website used to have a forum where potential volunteers could post reviews of farms they'd WWOOFed at, but I just checked and the forum seems to have disappeared. Not sure why...

Comments in the thread above about possible safety concerns potential volunteers should consider are valid, but in my experience those types of concerns go both ways. Hosts are inviting strangers to live with them, many times in their homes, and they also need to use good judgement and vet potential volunteers. Of all the dozens of volunteers my wife and I hosted over the years, most of them were fine, a few of them were incredible and a couple were kinda sketchy.

Luckily, now with the internet it's easier than ever for potential hosts and volunteers to communicate fully ahead of time to make sure their expectations are in line. Communication is key. Write to any hosts you're thinking of visiting and tell them what your expectations are. If you're a strict vegan, maybe you shouldn't ought to volunteer on a farm that raises livestock for meat...

Anyone thinking of becoming a volunteer through the WWOOF program should take the time to read over the recommendations on the WWOOF website and think long and hard about what your goals and expectations are. In my experience, if you communicate fully with potential hosts you're thinking of visiting ahead of time, there's a higher probability of success.

Above, someone posted a link to the wwoofinternational.org website. Be aware that this is not the only website you can use to find participating host farms. Each country, and sometimes even regions within countries, may have it's own, sometimes competing, WWOOF type volunteer program website. So, for example, if you're thinking of going to Norway, try googling WWOOF Norway, and the first result will be wwoofnorway.org. So, before you pay the fee to register as a volunteer it's best to check out the different options for the country(ies) you're planning on visiting and make sure to join the organization that seems like it has the best selection of host farms available and maybe even options like others have suggested above where previous volunteers have a way of posting reviews of farms they've been to.

Other options, similar to WWOOF, for anyone interested in traveling and volunteering overseas or even close to home, are Helpx.net and Workaway.com. There's some overlap, but those two aren't exclusively farm stays. Some of them are in cities and towns, and the work can be anything from helping with editing English language documents to painting or waiting tables in a cafe.

My wife, 7 year old daughter and I are preparing to take off on a year long, around the world trip, and we're hoping to find some interesting farms and maybe other volunteer opportunities where we can help out, meet new people and experience parts of other cultures that most tourists never get to see.

Good luck in Norway, OP! One of my brothers lives and works way up in the north in Kirkenes. We're planning on visiting him for sure. Although we hadn't really considered WWOOFing in Norway, it seems like it would be a great place to volunteer. Unless you have a free place to stay, Norway is crazy expensive!

DagobertDuck

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Re: WWOOF'ing?
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2016, 01:29:03 PM »
Thanks!

I wasn't planning to go that far north by the way. The endless daylight would drive me nuts!

I've been in Norway several times and I loved it. I even speak  the language (a bit). Some things are expensive indeed (booze!!!) but not everything is crazy expensive. Gas is expensive by US standards but it's even more expensive in The Netherlands. (+ I don't own a car anyway) :-)

 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!