Why and where do you want to WWOOF this year?
Wait, what do you mean, you don’t know what WWOOFing is?
The term WWOOF comes from WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which is and I quote “Part of a worldwide movement linking visitors with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange thereby helping to build a sustainable global community”. In others words, you can go work/volunteer your time on Organics Farms, in exchange for free room-and-board. Now, not all farms work the same way, some will provide full shelter and all meals while other farms will provide only one of these two and again, other farms will provide anything in between. Each farm is different, they’ll vary between an adults only farm, all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum, of encouraging families to join their farm, in a fully-functioning educational system for the parents and kids.
How do you find the proper WWOOF host?
http://wwoof.net is the worldwide, international version and https://wwoofusa.org is, you guessed it, the United States version. You create a profile, not like a Tinder or eHarmony profile, but more of a profile of who you are and what you’re looking for in a host… wait, that’s exactly like a Tinder profile! Moving along, you then search (swipe right) the type of host/farmers who would best, suit you and contact them, until you find a match. Make sure, you’re very clear of what is expected of you and what you expect from them, what you want to learn, accomplish and what works best for you.
Why not??? WWOOFing gives you a chance to learn new skills, to become part of a community, to be selfish, to be selfless, to bring value to the organization, to educate yourself, to educate your kids, to travel VERY affordably, to escape something, to discover something, to be part of something special, to feel like you’ve made the world a better place, even if it’s only, ever so slightly better. Everything you do on the farm, no matter how minute it may feel, helps the host/farmer put food on their table and put a roof over their head. Sometimes, you just need to stop your everyday life, take a big deep breathe and smell the Texas Legend Onions...
Personally, why do we WWOOF?
We like the feeling of having accomplished something. We like to contribute to society by getting involved and knowing that we helped. Personally, I used to work in construction and if I didn’t finish my day, having spilt a little blood and sweat along the way, then I didn’t work hard enough that day. If I walked into an empty room early in the morning and left it, after a full day’s work and see the kitchen cabinets, sink and flooring installed, I did that! I built something, I accomplished something that will help someone along the way. I also worked in corporate sales for over 13 years. You know what I did? I put a number on the wall! That was my accomplishment... I put a number on the wall that needed to be higher than my company’s number on the wall. I had to reach a quota. Sure, you could say, what I sold that day, helped the buyer’s company become more efficient, save money, save time and save jobs but lets be completely honest here, NOBODY CARES! IT’S A NUMBER ON A WALL, NOBODY REALLY CARES!!!
Here, our host and the farm managers, are very appreciative of everything that the WWOOFers (aka volunteers) do. It’s amazing how much a simple group text, saying “Thank you everyone, for your hard work today” can put a smile on someone’s face. The corporate world has completely forgotten that or simply doesn’t see the ROI (Return On Investment) of a simple compliment. WWOOFing is not a job, it is not checks and balances, it is not stressful and it has nothing to do with hierarchy. WWOOFing is rewarding in so many different ways that an Excel spreadsheet can’t explain. I love piecharts as much as the next guy or gal but here, having dirty hands, watering my new plants or pruning the tomatoes is my reward, my accomplishment and my contribution, as an individual and as a community.
Will we WWOOF more?
Our 1st WWOOFing experience in Baltimore, ON, Canada was not as successful as we’d hoped. For our family dynamic, we need structure and a clear understanding of what’s expected of us and what we need, to have the perfect trade-off with our hosts. It’s important to us, to feel like we are holding up our end of the bargain. We want to know that, we provide more than we take. We simply need to do better research and ask more questions before accepting or applying on a WWOOFing farm, which is exactly what we did for our 2nd WWOOFing opportunity. We set sail (FINE, we pinned the trailer to the truck) towards the 12 Seasons Farm, in Fort Myers, FL and as much as I still had a sour taste in my mouth from our 1st WWOFing experience, I agreed to trust my wife and come to Florida, to this farm.
12 Seasons Farm is located slightly East of Fort Myers, FL off Hwy 80 and they specialize in strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, Kale, lettuce, a slew of citrus varieties, celery, eggplant, zucchini, gourdes and bamboo! Our host, Danny Blank is incredibly knowledgeable and loves to teach. Every morning, there is an 8:30 meeting to discuss, who does what that day, where the priorities are and what needs to be accomplished, for him to have a successful market day. We were supposed to be here from, early December till mid-Jan (2018-19) but it’s been such an amazing experience with the host and the other WWOOFers (from Pennsylvania, Germany, Texas, Canada and Indiana) that we want to extend our stay till… I’m not sure! Stay tuned…
If you want to travel, discover, learn, spend time as a group/community, want to spend some time alone to reflect on what is important to you or what you wanna do when you grow up, seriously consider WWOOFing! The Oily Traveler’s slogan is “Inspired to keep the wheels spinning”. Somedays, we want to inspire others and somedays, that slogan only applies to inspire ourselves. We believe that we can teach our kids more by leading by example, than by telling them what to study. We want them to think outside the box, find new ways to live, to think and to discover whatever makes them happy in life. We want happy, little humans roaming this planet and we’ll do our part for our two!