I’ve heard WWOOFing horror stories from both hosts and volunteers, and I’ve seen some incredibly bad behavior. Most of these things (as with all things in life) could be avoided if people would just communicate and do their jobs. Here are a few pointers:
1. Not communicating – if there’s a problem, most WWOOF hosts will want to fix it. But they can’t ihey don’t know you have a problem! Remember that they have a whole farm to run, and their thoughts are probably elsewhere. write things down and make lists so neither of you forget what need to be addressed. Don’t ever just walk away from a farm. The problem could have been fixed, and you’re ruining your reputation in the WWOOFing community.
2. Taking on too much- farming is demanding work. That’s why organic farmers need WWOOFing to make it work. But make sure you know your limits. Most hosts ask for 4-6 hours of help 5 days a week, which may vary with the season. Keep in mind what you’re trying to accomplish and the benefits you receive in return. If you’re wanting to do a lot of sight-seeing or exploring, choose a lighter workload that gives you the time and energy you need.
3. Being stubborn – if you refuse to try something a different way you’re not going to make anyone happy. Remember that your hosts have likely been doing htis for years before you. They have reasons for the methods they use. Just try it. If this method just doesn’t work at all, refer to #1. Talk it out.
4. Choosing the wrong farm – read your host descriptions carefully, and talk to the farm host before making a commitment or traveling. Know what you’re expected to do, and learn about your hosts. Allergic to horses or hay? Don’t sign up for horse-related jobs. Vegetarian? Go with a host who can relate to and accommodate your choice without a lot of hassle. I have seen farms that grow everything from flowers and herbs to corn and blackberries, and produce things from tofu to hand-woven baskets and homemade jam. There are people collecting medicinal herbs and wild food, and huge co-operative farms that have hundreds of employees and WWOOFers. The people range from ultra-conservative Christians to “smoking and SMOKING ok, nudism encouraged” polygamist pagan families. And everything in between. There is a WWOOF host for you.
5. Sloppy work – showing up late, not listening to instructions, rushing through a job. All of these are bad habits that you cannot afford to keep. Build trust and commit yourself to the WWOOFing relationship. It’s all about give and take.
Intrigued? Read this article for more information about WWOOFing.
Are you WWOOFing, or did you in the past? Just thinking about it? I’d love to hear your stories, whether good or bad. Leave a comment below.