WWOOF is a worldwide organization that can place volunteers with organic farmers where volunteers work for 4 to 6 hours a day for room and board on their hosts organic farm.
In 2014 Charlene and I worked as volunteers in Thailand for about a month. I have to say it was one of the best travel experiences we have had. The housing was poor at best, the food was good but usually very simple, and the transportation was difficult at best. That being said, we would go back in a heart beat. We made friends with our fellow volunteers and our Thai hosts that will last a life time. We grew more as a couple and as caring people in that month then probably any other time in our lives. In short, it was a fantastic experience that accomplished what travel should accomplish it made us better, happier people.
Seniors are welcome and often preferred by the farmers who host WWOOF volunteers.
I usually try not to blog on experiences that Charlene and I have not tried but I’m going to jump out on a limb with this experience. WWOOF started in London in 1971 and has spread into a world-wide organization. You can find WWOOF hosts in almost every county in the world. Each country has its own WWOOF organization and the umbrella non-profit is FoWO the Federation of WWOOF Organizations.
As a Geezer my first question is, “Whats this cost?” and the answer is simple, unlike many volunteer organizations no money changes hands, just labor and room and board. There is a cost in each country to sign up with that country’s WWOOF organization. As an example Charlene and I are looking at volunteering in France hopefully at a vineyard or cheese dairy. In France the WWOOF organization charged us 30 Euro to sign up and that fee allowed us to communicate with their 1544 independent hosts across France.
Being a member of WWOOF France, allows Charlene and I to look at the host list and see important information like: when the hosts are looking for volunteers; what the work will be; what the lodging is like; where the hosts are and if the host speaks english. One of the advantages the site offers is reviews but I looked at a lot of the hosts sites and didn’t find any reviews that had been done.
As a traveler trying to travel on a budget two difficulties that come up are costs and entertainment and the cost of lodging. Volunteering with WWOOF offers a chance to work with local farmers and live in a local environment, which is great entertainment, and get free room and board. Charlene and jumped into our volunteer work in Thailand with both feet signing up for a month of volunteering. I think that I would probably want to try WWOOF for maybe a couple of weeks. The nice thing I see with this program on the dollars and cents end is that we could take the money we would normally spend on room and board for the time we are volunteers and apply that to something extravagant on our next French trip like a cooking school!
You can check out WWOOF at their primary international site at http://wwoof.net/#wwoof.
We will be looking closely at this travel option for the next year and if we do go volunteer with WWOOF we will make sure to write lots of blogs about the experience.