WWOOFing: An Alternative Green Vacation

on May 25 2011 2:43 PM

Instead of holing up in an office on the weekdays and sunning yourself to a crisp on the weekends, this summer you could be WWOOFing it.

In the past year, organic farming revenue has increased almost 15%, producing a global income of $430 million. Increasing awareness of environmental sustainability and a continued interest in a green economy has spured cleaner ways of farming, eating and living. Across the world, countries have taken up the organic initiative, offering more oppertunities for consumers to choose where their food comes from and take a hands-on approach to farming and harvesting.

WWOOF, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, allow people to work on organic farms throughout the world in over 50 countries from Kenya to India to Italy to Iceland. WWOOF volunteers, or 'WWOOFers', do not pay for their stay and WWOOF hosts do not pay volunteers for their help, creating an ideal mutual aid and family environment.

Started in 1971 in England, WWOOFing has long been populated with diverse groups of people including college students and backpackers, but also businessmen and women looking for a way out of the city and into the countryside- if only for a short while. It can give you an opportunity to flex those muscles that may be neglected during a regular work week by chopping wood, weeding plants, grooming horses and baling hay.

WWOOFers can harvest coffee beans in Thailand, make wine in Australia, raise chickens in Mexico or grow organic vegetables in France.

The workers help families for a set number of hours a day, usually between five and six hours, and in exchange, receive free room and board. Volunteers can choose from a list of sites and farming techniques that appeal to them. The organization only supports organic farmers that employ ecologically sound methods on their land, teaching volunteers about organic growing techniques, rural living and environmentally sound lifestyles. A WWOOF working vacation can range in length from a week or less to an entire season or more.

Thanks to the ever rising popularity of organic and locally grown food, WWOOFing creates accessibility for people who want to learn more about organic farming and its benefits. Volunteers receive hands-on experience and training that can be carried over into the supermarket at home.

WWOOFing is a cheap way to experience countries away from the hordes of other tourists and allows visitors, through total immersion, to get a full understanding of the land, the people and the culture.

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