WWOOF is an acronym for two commonly used terms: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and Willing Workers on Organic Farms. Whichever you choose to use, the meaning is philosophically the same. Though joining WWOOF isn’t free (costs range from $0 to $72), it connects members with hundreds and thousands of organic growers and farmers who will provide room and board in exchange for work. Accommodations and food are provided by the host, but expect to pitch in.
As of 2016, 61 countries have their own national WWOOF organization, while 53 others are listed under WWOOF Independents. Australia, New Zealand, and the United States have the most WWOOF hosts, totaling over 2,000 each. WWOOFers (those volunteering to do the work) are typically expected to work between 20 and 25 hours per week. Different hosts will have different terms, so be sure to clarify what is expected before embarking. Work can range from gardening to shearing sheep, milking goats, or harvesting coffee beans. Many hosts are willing to teach WWOOFers the skills of their trade, so don’t be shy.
It’s advisable to pick a host site that grants access to something off-site, even if you’re working on a vineyard in France or Australia. Most sites are rural, so picking a place with bicycle access also makes a big difference. Similar to Couchsurfing, WWOOFing provides travelers with an immersive cultural exchange that would be quite difficult to come across otherwise. Plus, it’s an excellent way to extend your travel budget in expensive destinations like New Zealand, Hawaii, or Italy, while still enjoying the spot’s culture and natural beauty.