The sun slowly creeps through a layer of clouds below me as I walk out of my caravan settled on the side of a mountain. I feel it warm my back as it follows me to the top of the mountain where I’ll salute it during a one-hour yoga session.
Stretching is a great way to start the day, especially one that includes weeding lantana, a tree-like weed, on an incline for four to five hours.
It’s hard work, but worth it for a free place to sleep and eat, but more importantly an experience I would never have found if it weren’t for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF).
While traveling Australia last year I had the the opportunity to WWOOF at a vineyard in Victoria, yoga center in Brisbane and yoga retreat in the mountains of Dungog mentioned above.
After a thorough read of the entire WWOOF Australia book, I was amazed at the variety of hosts the volunteer organization offers. Amongst the organization’s many benefits to travelers, its most important is the unique learning experiences it offers across the globe.
Through WWOOF travelers get the chance to not just visit a dream destination, but live out the dream of that destination.
WWOOF Italia - Grape picking in Tuscany
Beth Salvon and Randy Kalp of Beans and Beer spent about a month in Autumn 2010 volunteering at the vineyard Fattoria Cerreto Libri in Pontassieve, Italy. The 30-something couple spent their days picking grapes, afternoons sampling delicious local food and nights drinking the fruit of their crops with other WWOOFers in a 200 year old Tuscan kitchen.
Randy says they looked into WWOOF Italia originally to help extend their travels and “contribute to the regional organic movement.” He says the experience made a strong mark on their trip.
“Of the two months Beth and I spent exploring Europe last Autumn, we never laughed as hard as we did when we were on the farm,” says Randy.
Visit WWOOF Italia to learn more.
“I shared the house with two horses, three donkeys, two cats, three dogs, five kangaroos, two wombats and loads of birds,” says Laura Cervera about her stay at Rocky Creek Wildlife Refuge in Sandy Hollow, Australia.
The 23-year-old Spaniard planned to WWOOF in Australia during a round the world trip her parents gave her as a present for earning her biology degree. She says the experience taught her a lot and she got to work closely with indigenous animals.
“During my time in the refuge I had to take care of baby kangaroos and wombats and all kind of animals that were injured,” Laura says. “After taking care of them we put them back into the wild.”
Visit WWOOF Australia to learn more.
WWOOF USA – Riding Horses at a Ranch
California girl Samantha Smith WWOOFed across the USA for six months. During her trip the pre-veterinary student raised livestock and more in Billings, Montana, helped rehabilitate abused and neglected horses in Hohenwald, Tennessee and trained horses in Macon, Georgia.
While she had to deal with a mixture of harsh weather conditions, constant snow in Montana and extreme heat in Tennessee, Samantha says, “the experience of WWOOFing as a whole was the most rewarding of [her] life.”
“I was able to see places in this country that I would never have had the opportunity to see had I not taken this trip,” she says. “I also had the experience of driving across the country and back by myself, which feels very empowering as a young woman.”
Visit WWOOF USA for more information.
WWOOF Japan - Baking Bread in Japan
Proving that WWOOF is more than just organic farming, Dasha Vaughn Gariepy of the USA spent some of her time WWOOFing in a bakery. While WWOOFing with her teenage daughter at Yaedake Farm in Okinawa, Japan, Dasha spent two days a week making bread at the farm’s bakery.
“On bakery days we learned to mix, shape, cook, package, distribute and sell a wide variety of baked goods,” says Dasha.
During the Cherry Blossom Festival, Dasha said she got to work at the bakery an extra day. She says the workers were friendly and the bread was delicious.
Visit WWOOF Japan to learn more.
Share Your WWOOF Experience
WWOOFing offers a wide array of opportunities on organic farms and more. Have you had an interesting WWOOFing experience? Share it below.
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