I’ve been working hard to try to find affordable volunteer programs for young folks. Somewhat surprisingly, most coordinated programs involve a hefty fee for the volunteer to participate. This is usually because the program organization fields year-round staff and support personnel. They also need to pay to advertise their programs, and they sustain a lot of related costs such as transportation and office overhead. Other than the Peace Corps and its ilk, inexpensive volunteer opportunities have been few and far between. Until I heard of WWOOF, that is.
What is WWOOF?
“WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) 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 build a sustainable, global community. As a volunteer (or WWOOFer as we call them) you will live alongside your host helping with daily tasks and experiencing life as a farmer.” – wwoof.net
Although you will not be paid, you do receive free room and board as well as the opportunity to get to know fellow participants from all over the world!
The program was founded in 1971 by a London secretary looking to take an active break from smoggy city living. WWOOF farms, located all throughout the globe, seek help with a variety of sustainable living tasks. You can choose to collect honey, feed farm animals, harvest crops, bake bread, build yurts, or so much more. There’s really no limit as to what you can do as long as an organic farm has a need for it!