World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF, //), or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, is a loose network of national organisations that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms. While there are WWOOF hosts in 99 countries around the world, no central list or organisation encompasses all WWOOF hosts. As there is no single international WWOOF membership, all recognised WWOOF country organisations strive to maintain similar standards, and work together to promote the aims of WWOOF.
WWOOF aims to provide volunteers with first-hand experience in organic and ecologically sound growing methods, to help the organic movement, and to let volunteers experience life in a rural setting or a different country. WWOOF volunteers ('WWOOFers') generally do not receive financial payment. The host provides food, accommodation, and opportunities to learn, in exchange for assistance with farming or gardening activities.
The duration of the visit can range from a few days to years. Workdays average five to six hours, and participants interact with WWOOFers from other countries. WWOOF farms include private gardens through smallholdings, allotments, and commercial farms. Farms become WWOOF hosts by enlisting with their national organisation. In countries with no WWOOF organisation, farms enlist with WWOOF Independents:
Examples of WWOOF experiences include harvesting cup gum honey from Ligurian bees at Island Beehive in Kangaroo Island, harvesting Syrah grapes for Knappstein Vineyard in the Clare Valley, and harvesting coffee beans from arabicas in Northern Thailand.
WWOOF originally stood for "Working Weekends on Organic Farms" and began in England in 1971. Sue Coppard, a woman working as a secretary in London, wanted to provide urban dwellers with access to the countryside, while supporting the organic movement. Her idea started with trial working weekends for four people at the biodynamic farm at Emerson College in Sussex.
People soon started volunteering for longer periods than just weekends, so the name was changed to Willing Workers on Organic Farms, but then the word "work" caused problems with some countries' labour laws and immigration authorities, who tended to confuse WWOOFers with migrant workers and oppose foreigners competing for local jobs. Both to eliminate that problem and also in recognition of WWOOFing's worldwide scope, the name was changed again in 2000 to World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Some WWOOF groups choose to retain the older name, however.
In the year 2000 the first International WWOOF conference was held with representatives from 15 countries.
It was agreed to:
- Develop guidelines as to what is meant by being a WWOOFer, a WWOOF host and to go WWOOFing.
- Encourage and support emerging WWOOF organisations in developing countries.
WWOOF is a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange, thereby helping to building a sustainable global community.
- WWOOF - Around the World
- Simmons, Krista, Work a little, get back a lot, May 27, 2009, page 8, Brand X (Los Angeles Times)
- WWOOF Independents
- WWOOF Independents Africa
- WWOOF Independents Asia-Pacific
- WWOOF Independents Europe
- WWOOF Independents Latin America
- WWOOF history
- "Many Hands Make Light Work". Emerson College. Mar 9, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- "History of WWOOF". Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- "Mission statement". WWOOF. Federation of WWOOF Organisations.
- National WWOOF Organisations