First started by a London secretary, Sue Coppard in 1971, under the name “Working Weekends on Organic Farms”, WWOOF is an education and cultural exchange program that allows visitors, alternatively known as “WWOOFers” to spend half a day helping out on a host farm, performing a variety of farm tasks while learning about the organic movement and sustainable farm agriculture practices in exchange for room and board during the entirety of the duration of their visit. This type of educational program allows visitors to learn the ways of practical farming skills, be one with the organic agriculture movement as well as experience and live in the heart of the agrarian world without any value of money passing from WWOOFers to hosts.
WWOOF has expanded since its inception in London, having spread to now encompass more than 100 countries offering a wide range of farm stay opportunities with each respective WWOOF program operates independently in each country.
Currently there are about 2,003 organic farms listed within the WWOOF-USA host farm directory, which is a considerable pool to be able to choose from. These two thousand farms despite practicing using organic methods, are not all considered to be USDA certified organic. However, any farm, community or garden project that employs such organic methods can apply to be a participant in this cultural and educational program.
The directory currently lists farms in all fifty of the US states, as well as some in both the US Virgin Island and Puerto Rico territories. With such a wide variety of farms in different climates and areas, there is guaranteed to be a farm option available to cater to every WWOOF’s taste. Some of the educational opportunities that are currently available include working on farms that are growing vegetables, keeping bees, building straw bale houses, working with various animals and making wine.
Becoming a member of the WWOOF organization in any country is an easy one. Simply log onto their respective website, find the “Become a Member” tab and follow the directions there. There will be a small membership fee, depending on whether you want online or print and online access to the WWOOF Directories. There will then be a series of short survey questions in order to determine your eligibility for being a part of the WWOOF family.
People as young as 18 are free to travel and be part of the WWOOF program on their own, but those under 18 will need the company of a legal guardian to travel and live on a farm within the WWOOF programs. Children and pets are in some cases free to accompany you as well, just be sure to check this option when you are using the advanced search tools on the WWOOF directory to ensure this is okay with your host. The advanced search tool of the directory is the best way to find a farm that suits your learning and living needs. Each WWOOF membership is valid for one year from the exact date of registration.