Ever wanted to experience an exotic, unconventional spring break, accommodation and meals completely covered in exchange for work? This spring break, you can– through WWOOF International, otherwise known as the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, an amazing organization that connects volunteers who want to work and live on an organic farms with opportunities to do so on organic farms across all 7 continents in over 50+ countries.
Ever thought about stomping grapes for a winery in Tuscany? What about harvesting quinoa in high altitude pastures in Peru? Or helping the local women in the rice paddy, all the while living in a homestay, sharing local cultures and traditions?
If that sounds like your cup of tea, here’s how you can get there.
1. Figure out where you want to go.
Location is important because WWOOF International has many national subsidiaries. If you want to WWOOF in Japan, you need to sign up on the WWOOF Japan site, and the same goes for any other country you may be interested in going. Figure out what region interests you and sign up with the national subsidiary. Most national subsidiaries require a small payment of usually no more than $50 to get access to the list of participating farms in their country. All in all, it’s a really small fee for the experience that you’re going to get.
2. Think about what skills you could offer to the farm and what type of work you would be willing to do.
Once you pay the fee and gain access to the national list, think about what type of work you would be willing to do. Do you want to farm fruit? Are you willing to lead horse riding lessons? Can you do manual labor? Have you ever milked a cow? Would you like to take care of chickens? All different farms offer all different types of occupations, and so it’s very important to read the fine print (the farms will all describe what type of job they’re looking to be filled, and you can always inquire further about the nature of the work) before signing on to anything you won’t be able to handle. Most places won’t require experience; as long as you’re willing to learn, they’re willing to teach you.
If you have experience that is applicable, for example, if you grew up on a farm, know how to garden vegetables, can ride horses, can rope cows, or any of the above (and more), think about how you could apply that to your WWOOFing experience as well. Sometimes it may be wiser to apply for something you have a background in and will be more comfortable in your WWOOFing setting.
3. Write up a list of eligible farms, and send out enquiries to them.
Pick some farms you think you’d like to work in, and send out enquiries however the national subsidiary lists the contact information. Most times it will be through e-mail. Do send out more than a couple e-mails, because most farms don’t reply, unfortunately. This is often due to tons of volunteers applying with not enough open spots, and it’s pretty competitive. Keep trying! Persistence is key. Often, they may not need help the certain time you’re going, or they’re already full.
Make sure to send out enquiries containing your full name, what you’re interested in doing, your experience, some background, and more. The more you write, the more they’ll know, and the more interested the farms may be in having you around! It’s also important to ask questions– you don’t want to sign onto anything before having the full story.
4. Pack up!
If you’re lucky and you’ve settled with your hosts an arrangement for your WWOOFing experience, congratulations! You’ll be experiencing life in a unique and amazing way, and you’ll be able to positively give back to the planet and to people who’ll definitely appreciate your help. Pack for your time wisely, and if you need any more assistance, check out this seriously helpful guide for first time WWOOFers.