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Why not WWOOF?

Posted Dec 08 2010 10:06am

Need a Post-Grad Plan? Consider WWOOFing As a reader of Organic on the Green, you’re more than likely interested in all things organic, from cooking to eating to exploring local farmer’s markets and more. The organic lifestyle is a wonderful world that celebrates pure, healthy, sustainably grown food. Maybe you’ve even tried your hand at organic gardening. If you want to take your passion for organic food one step further, you may want to look into the global volunteer network called Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). WWOOF was originally called Weekend Workers on Organic Farms, and it started in England back in 1971 by Sue Coppard. Coppard was a secretary working in London at the time, and was interested in forming an organization that would give city-dwellers an opportunity to experience the English country side and help with the organic movement. The first WWOOF site was a biodynamic farm at Emerson College in Sussex, and it began with four volunteers. A 2006 Guardian news article features Coppard, who explains how her childhood spent in the countryside motivated her to begin the organization, which now spans 99 countries. So what, exactly, is WWOOF? It’s not your typical organization per se; it’s more of a network of organic farms across the world that puts farmers in touch with volunteers who are interested in learning, through first-hand experience, all the ins and outs of running an organic farm.

Each country has its own WWOOF site, and those countries that don’t have enough of a domestic following are featured on the WWOOF Independents site. Interested volunteers can visit the site of the country they’re interested in, and, typically after paying a small membership fee, they can look through a database of farms. Each farm’s advertisement describes what’s expected of volunteers and what living conditions will be like. Once you’ve found a farm that appeals to you, get in touch with the farmer and go from there. In exchange for a few hours of work a day, you get room, board, and a chance to learn about organic farming, as well as an opportunity to engage with a different culture. In this sense, WWOOF is as much a cultural exchange as it is a way to learn about sustainable living and help others in the process. The time commitment for each farm varies, so you can make your WWOOF experience last as long as you want it to from a week-long getaway before exploring career or grad school options to a full-time venture. As long as you have the means and physical and emotional wherewithal to travel from place to place, you can experience organic farming virtually anywhere around the globe. For a couple of personal accounts of the WWOOFing experience, check out a Knox student’s article here, or read about a newlywed couple’s WWOOF impressions published recently in the Huffington Post.

This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of nursing schools. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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