WWOOFing is a great program, but each person’s experience is a little different because WWOOFing is conducted by individuals who make their own decisions about who they want to work with and what they expect in return. The organization puts farms and volunteers together. But it doesn’t decide who does what.
There are a couple different categories of WWOOFers:
The casual one-time WWOOFer who WWOOFs for a week or two for the experience, and never again.
The vacation WWOOFer, often a student or a family, who wants to experience WWOOFing but can only do so when they have free time from work or school.
Some WWOOFers use the program to travel. Working a few hours every week leaves you plenty of time for sight-seeing and having a free place to stay really sucts down on your expenses.
Then there are the full-time “professional” WWOOFers like us who have made wwoofing their way of life and often their personal cause. We started WWOOFing as just a way to get free rent, but it has become so much mre important as we have made friends and seen the benefits of organic food and small farmers.
So how do you get the posh positions, with your own separate housing, long-term stability and possibly a bit of income? Again, WWOOFing is a casy-by-case arrangement and I can’t guarantee anything, but these tips should help you:
Read the WWOOF book entries for your selected country carefully. Some WWOOF hosts say right off the bat that they prefer long-term candidates. If you’re set on a several- months to a year situation, don’t bother with people who only need help for a few weeks.
Choose a type of work that you would be good at. If you’re not wild about animals, don’t choose a host whose main enterprise is cows and chickens.
Write a good intduction. Most WWOOF hosts get an over-abundance of requests. It’s hard to choose and they can’t take everyone. Make yourself irresistible, but be honest. Don’t make up skills you don’t have. just sell what you do have.
Be a good student. Most WWOOF hosts aren’t going to sign you up for a 3-year position right off the bat. Most places i’ve been to gave me a week or two trial period, where we both got to see how we would get along. While in your trial period, make an extra effort to follow directions and do your best work. This is your chance to shine. Remember that you don’t know the only “right” way to do something. Your hosts have probably been doing this a lot longer than you have. So try it their way. Don’t criticize.
Be flexible. In most farm work, there is a season. You can’t harvest apples all year long. Be reday to do other chores in the off-season: chop, stack, or gather firewood, canning and preserving food, repair and maintenance of buildings, greenhouse work, pruning, house-sitting and cleaning are common tasks. Being flexible helps you fill out your time and keeps you useful when you would otherwise be excess baggage.
Have a supplemental income: this is a whole other blog post, but if you can manage to have some extra money from odd jobs, an Internet business on the side, extra work for your hosts, or just personal savings, you will seem like much less of a risk to take on. If you have an emergency, you’ll be less likely to get in a tough situation, and you can buy your own toothpaste. When you have insurance or back-up income it makes more sense to commit to taking you on full-time.
Be agreeable: smoking, partying, pets, children, rude behaviour and overly vocal political or religious beliefs can make you annoying and even the most patient WWOOF hosts may soon ask you to leave. Depending on the situation, you may get along just fine, but don’t expect every host to adore your young children or be excited about smoke in their WWOOFer cabin. Check the WWOOF listing, and let them know about any of these factors before you go to their farm.
Have you WWOOFed? How long was your longest stay? What did you like, and what would you do differently? any tips? Let me know in the comments below.