In addition to being an excellent way to learn, WWOOFing is an incredible opportunity to discover new lands and different cultures. The question you might be asking yourself now is: Where to WWOOF, in my own country or elsewhere? With a network present on all 5 continents, you will be spoiled for choice!
Choosing the country for your next WWOOFing
Before selecting the perfect place for you to volunteer, it is important to prepare your stay:
- First, administrative procedures for each country are different, depending on your nationality. WWOOFing is a unique approach that is neither work nor volunteering. In general, a tourist visa is usually enough, with the ideal being a “Working Holiday Visa” (WHV). Important: WWOOF associations do not intervene to facilitate the entry of volunteers onto their territory. The issue is explained well on the international organization’s website.
- It is also essential to look into what the country the geopolitical context of the country you wish to visit in order to ensure your safety. For this, there is nothing better than visiting government websites such as the US Department of State, UK travel advisories, France Diplomacy, the Swiss DFAE, Australia’s Smart Traveller site or the website of the Canadian government.
- Finally, it is important to identify which languages are spoken in the host location. WWOOFing is certainly one of the best ways to learn or improve your level in a foreign language. However, it is ultimately quite important to be able to communicate at least on a basic level with your future hosts.
Where to do WWOOFing: the destinations
Within the WWOOF network, it is possible to volunteer in nearly 130 countries worldwide. The international association lists them here.
WWOOFing in France
In France, the movement is overseen by WWOOF France association. Since WWOOFing does not have a legal status, the national branch has collaborated with a local insurance entity Mutualité Sociale Agricole (MSA) to define an initial level of recognition. Precise guidelines are defined to organize stays. The objective is to protect the system from abuse such as concealed labor laws and tax avoidance.
In mainland France, many farms practice permaculture and market gardening. Thanks to the diversity of regions and the richness of the French terroir, you will certainly discover unique ancestral techniques. For example, it is possible to try your hand at organic hops production in the north of France, how to process chestnut in Ardèche, or the secrets of cheese making in Corsica.
Volunteering in Europe or the Middle East
WWOOFing is very prevalent in Europe, with around 20 local organizations, especially in Western Europe. Luckily, Greece, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Serbia also have great networks. Working together as independant WWOOF hosts, it is possible to find welcoming places in all other countries on the continent.
The birthplace of WWOOF, the United Kingdom, has over 400 farms that are typically focused on market gardening. Spain, on the other hand, has around 300 farms, Germany has nearly 500, and Ireland has almost 200. In Eastern Europe, the network is growing rapidly with new local branches in Baltic countries and Hungary. In the Middle East, WWOOFing is present in Turkey, Israel, Oman, Jordan, and Lebanon.
Discovering American Farms
Although the continent has only three national associations (United States, Canada, and Chile), the movement is well-established in all the Americas. Again, through the WWOOF Independents website, it is possible to connect with farms in all of Central and South America (except Venezuela).
The great appeal of America lies in offering welcoming places in various latitudes with highly diverse climates. The agricultural practices of the cold plains in Canada will be quite different from those in the Mexican desert, tropical jungles of Costa Rica, or the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.
WWOOFing in Asia and Oceania
Asia is well represented in terms of WWOOFing with around ten national associations, including China, India, Japan, and South Korea. In these countries, a change of scenery is guaranteed! Oceania is also not far behind and includes two of the most active countries in the world. Australia and New Zealand, with English as the national language, attract travelers from around the globe.
Exploring off the beaten path in Africa
WWOOFing is expanding in Africa. The continent has three national organizations (Malawi, Togo, and Nigeria). Through the WWOOF Independents association, farms are accessible in about half of the African countries, such as Tanzania, South Africa, and Egypt.
There are many countries to discover through WWOOFing, and the network continues to grow. It is highly likely that welcoming farms can be found in all countries in the near future. All that remains is for you to select your next destination!
To learn more:
- What is WWOOFing?
- Why engage in WWOOFing?
- How to engage in WWOOFing?
- Samantha’s testimony: A seasoned WWOOFer
- Terri and Bernard’s testimony: Farmers devoted to WWOOFing