Interviewing a WWOOF participant.

April 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm 1 comment

WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) offers volunteers a chance to work on an organic farm to learn about organic growing, country living, and ecologically sound lifestyles.  Volunteers do not pay for their stay and hosts do not pay their volunteers.  It is an exchange of work for knowledge, housing, and accommodations.While it is a worldwide service, each region has its own website.  This means you must join the individual page for the area where you are interested in working.  The websites are networks providing volunteers with opportunities, but the volunteer must contact and make arrangements with the farm.    A small fee is required to join each WWOOF network, but judging that the fee for WWOOF-USA is $30, it can be a general assumption that none of the sites charge a substantial fee.

I had the opportunity to interview Ray Fallon, 23, who graduated from TCNJ in 2009 and is currently volunteering through WWOOF.  He explains how he chose to spend time with WWOOF and what he plans to do with his experience:

Above: Ray with a cow.

Describe what you are doing during your gap year (location, a day in the life, etc.)

I am traveling to different farms for different time periods.  I learn what they do at the farm, how to do it, and a lot of different things: how to sustain yourself, living off food you grow, how to profit from the work.  I have been on a farm in Spring Mills, PA for a little over 2 weeks now, with one more week to go.  Soon I will be going to Europe for a month to travel and I will be Couch Surfing, then spending 2 months doing WWOOF in Germany.  I had to sign up separately with the German website and pay a separate registration fee.

Why did you choose WWOOF?

In the future, I want to be a farmer.   I thought for a while I would like to either be a farmer or an actor.  I didn’t go to school for farming and didn’t know much about it, so this was an opportunity for free education and practice.  This is also a chance for me to figure out whether farming is something I want to do long-term.  I heard about WWOOF through word of mouth, maybe years ago from my brother .

How do you finance your time with WWOOF?

Food and housing is covered by the farms I work for.  This works by communicating with the farm you’re going to work for and coming to an agreement.  Sometimes more experienced workers or people staying for longer periods of time might agree to being paid a stipend, and while that might happen, it is not standard.  To contrast, if someone wants to stay but there is not a lot of work to be done then the host may want payment for housing.  It really varies by case.

There is a minimal registration fee; I think $25 for the U.S. and maybe $30 for Germany.  I have some expenses like going out or if I want to buy something, but I use my savings for that.  I worked for a year straight after college, so I lived modestly and saved as much as possible.  I knew I would have to provide for myself if I was acting and definitely for my trip through Europe, which I planned to take either way.

What is a memorable experience you have had so far?

Well, one day which was pretty funny, on another farm, I had to milk a goat, wrestle another goat, and carry the other goat.  I was giving water to the goats and cows, and the goats got out.  I carried the female goat, but the billy goat put up a fight and tried to charge and buck.

How do you think you will benefit when you are finished?

There are a lot of benefits.  The knowledge from each farm is different because they raise different crops and use different techniques.  I also learned networking is surprisingly important in farming.  The lady I’m working with now works with some sort of PA organic certification board.  She has a large network of farmers she’s in constant contact with, and I got to go with her to different types of meetings.  One girl I met helps people get into new farms, and she told me about different programs of people who aren’t farmers but what to try to do something like a work-study.

What are some final suggestions or reminders you would give to someone interested in WWOOF?

It really is a case-by-case sort of thing.  It’s worth trying if you’re at all interested because you can just try it for as little as 4 or 5 days and decide if you want to keep going, or if it doesn’t appeal at all you can stop.

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Entry filed under: Interview, Research.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. KC  |  June 24, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Hi,

    My name is KC Owens, I’m a college student and I love to travel! While cruising the Internet, I found your site and really enjoyed reading your posts. I have been to countries all over Europe with just my backpack and a camera. Since I am a college student and I have significant bills, it can be difficult to find ways to travel the world. However, I have done this several times, with less than ten pounds of luggage and while on a college dime!

    I was hoping that you would allow me to write a post for your site to share my tips and tricks with your readers. I put a lot of time into my traveling, it is my biggest passion and I would love to inspire others by sharing my stories, mistakes and triumphs. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Best,

    KC Owens

    Reply

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