If you’ve ever imagined setting up camp in wine country, California, or on a gorgeous sprawling ranch just outside of Yellowstone National Park, but couldn’t front the costs at the time, you may be interested in the Worldwide Organization of Organic Farming (WWOOF).
Where Does WWOOF Happen?
Many WWOOF opportunities exist just outside of highly-desirable, and often cost-prohibitive locations, placing them within an average (or frugal) camper’s reach. WWOOF sites exist around popular skiing locations, amusement parks, world-acclaimed museums, major cities, and beyond.
WWOOFing offers a unique opportunity for campers to have access to such sites at dramatically-reduced costs. If you have an interest in sustainability, travel, and learning more about the culture and community of whatever locale you’re visiting, joining WWOOF is an excellent option for you.
What Is WWOOF Exactly?
The WWOOF movement links volunteers with organic farmers all around the world, offering unique opportunities for full-timers, part-timers, and workampers alike. Full-time RVers might be especially interested in this organization, as it allows for travel without additional expenses. Many WWOOF farms will even feed you three square meals a day in exchange for a few hours’ work.
Every WWOOF site is different. As a WWOOFer and RVer, you’d have an endless amount of places to go, set up camp, and gain firsthand experience of the land and culture of the place you chose to visit. WWOOF USA offers over 2,100 sites to choose from. Simply choose your destination, choose a timeline (open now; immediate availability; or open next season) and length of stay, and select a farm type. Vineyards, homesteads, ranches, orchards, communities, and more are offered as farm type options.
WWOOF farms often have full hook-up for rigs, making long-term stays a breeze. Workampers and short-term campers will find plenty of opportunities through the WWOOF organization. A free site to boondock temporarily outside of national parks or other vacation destinations would be worth a few hours of volunteering, particularly if you’re trying to preserve your cash flow.
How Does It Work?
A single WWOOF membership costs $40 annually, and $65 annually for couples, which gives you access to all of the hosts’ contact information, details about their farms, reviews, ratings, and an automatic insurance policy that covers most accidents that might occur while volunteering. Volunteering can be easily tailored to individual needs: from a single-day visit to long-term stay, for an individual or the whole family.
Typically, a day would consist of four to six hours of volunteering: the details of which you can work out beforehand, with the host farm. Hosts are expected to provide basic accommodations and meals. Some WWOOF sites offer a small wage, in addition to accommodations and meals.
Be sure to ask about what projects are available before going, as hosts may require more hours during certain harvests and seasons. Before discussing the details of your stay, you’re encouraged to inquire about how your host will accommodate your RV or camper.
You’ll also want to ask about the sites available for your stay. Is this a full-hookup site, complete with water, electric, and sewage? Is the site a pull-through, with easy drive-thru access? Does it have hose bibs for water access, a sani-dump or dump station for your wastewater, and hook-ups for electricity? If not, ask your host to provide and confirm details about where you can access these utilities for longer-term stays. Boondocking is definitely worth your consideration for short-term stays in desirable locations.
Additional Things to Know about WWOOF
After your stay at the WWOOF site, you can leave a review and rating about your experiences. The host will, in turn, leave a review and rating for you. As a member, you’ll have access to all of the reviews left by previous volunteers, which you can access before even contacting the host.
These two-way reviews include clear, factual accounts intended to help future volunteers find the right community for them, and to help hosts improve the experiences they provide for volunteers. Personal opinions and impolite accounts are discouraged, and third party information is never shared. Disputed accounts of WWOOF experiences are reviewed by their board.
In addition to the review and rating system for members and hosts, WWOOF offers a Verification Program for hosts, which ensures that the host is following these five requirements:
- Practicing organic or sustainable growing methods.
- Providing an educational experience and sharing knowledge with WWOOFers.
- Providing adequate food for three meals per day.
- Providing suitable and sanitary living accommodations.
- Asking WWOOFers to help for a maximum of half a day (between four to six hours), five and a half days per week.
These requirements are verified by a representative who has visited the site and confirms that the host is providing a safe, educational, and comfortable environment for volunteers. You’ll see the searchable, “WWOOF-verified” badge on the farm’s website.
Whatever site you choose, an adventure surely awaits! Explore the North American continent and beyond from the comfort of your home-on-wheels. Conserve your savings while visiting popular vacation destinations. Learn about, and foster a real connection to nature and the ways of the land while volunteering at the WWOOF site of your choosing.
Have you ever volunteered with WWOOF or a similar organization? What was your experience? Leave a comment below!