What comes to mind when you think ‘holiday’? Sun kissed beaches, cocktails around the pool, exploring a new city? Whatever the answer is, ‘farming’ is probably not one of them. Yet ‘WWOOFING’, as the practice of spending a week, a month, or in some cases even longer, volunteering on an organic farm is known, is becoming increasingly popular both in Australia and overseas.
Working on a ‘host farm’ system, WWOOF was originally set up to allow London based workers a brief taste of country life on the weekends. These days, the organisation is active in over 40 countries, and members range from gap year students to pensioners.
Wwoof doesn’t actually organise programs on farms. They simply act as a service which connects people who would like to try volunteering with farms which need helpers. In order to sign up, members need to pay a membership fee of around $50 per person. The most common arrangement is generally around 4-6 hours of work per day in exchange for free food and board, but this is negotiable depending on the needs of the farm and the wishes of the guests. Similarly, the type of tasks you will be carrying out will vary greatly depending on where you end up staying-this is definitely something to be discussed with your hosts. Australia alone has a wide variety of farms to choose from, but you can decide to WWOOF anywhere from Taiwan to Tanzania. Many farms will also accept children, provided they are contacted in advance.
However, beyond the benefits of travel and experiencing life in the country, perhaps for the first time, there is another benefit to WWOOF life. As the name suggests, part of the idea behind the organisation is to encourage people to learn about organic and environmentally sustainable farming. If you’ve ever wondered why some products are more sustainable than others, or how organic goods are produced, WWOOFING offers the perfect opportunity to find out.
Bamboo is one of Ettitude’s chosen materials thanks in part to its sustainability (see this week’s previous post) and now the curious can experience how it is grown for themselves. Bamboo Land in Queensland and Bonza Bamboo in New South Wales both specialise in farming the plant. Whichever one of the many farms on offer you attend, you’re sure to have a fantastic opportunity to get closer to nature and come away with a true appreciation for organic farming.