WWOOFING

I think I’ve already found what I want to do next summer, and this time I’m making a promise to myself that whether or not I do this particular thing, I will be doing something radical next summer. WWOOFING is World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, a very loose-knit group of host farms and potential farmers. The basic idea is a hybrid of couch-surfing and working as an intern, but each experience is different and unique to the people involved. Host farms post small informational blurbs about their farms on the WWOOF website that tell about what they grow, what they’re looking for in a worker, the area their farm is in, and oftentimes why they have chosen to farm organically. Potential WWOOFers like me read through these blurbs and pick out what kind of farm they think suits their interests. The WWOOFer then contacts the host farm and they arrange a living accommodation for when the period of time that the two want to work together. My friend Ana just told me that a friend of hers WWOOF’ed all summer in Europe–a different farm in a different country each week. The downside is of course that the volunteer does not get paid and they have to pay for travel. The benefits are that the WWOOFer gets farming experience, can live for long or short amounts of time anywhere in the world that has a host farm, is provided with free food and lodging, meets people who share their ideals, and gets a chance to try farming with no repercussions or long-term commitments.

For Texas, there are five pages of host farms with about fifteen farms on each page. I didn’t recognize a lot of the city names, but then again, it’s not like there is going to be a lot of farming done in Austin or in San Antonio, so then I started filtering farms by their bios and what they are growing or raising. My fancy at this point is to work WWOOF in Oregon, or at least somewhere on the West Coast, and then maybe also do some WWOOFing in Texas so I can get a feel of what it’s like to farm in the area in which I live. You can apply to WWOOF anywhere you want though, including obviously, overseas. Knowing the language is helpful, my friend told me, but not necessary. This time next summer I could be working on a farm in France and waiting tables in Paris at night. It sounds like an amazing summer to me.

My plans are tentative, but the cool thing about WWOOFing is that you don’t really need a lot of time to plan. You find a farm you like and contact them; if they like you (or even if they don’t, you’re still free labor), they agree to host you; you pack your bags, buy a plane ticket, and kiss your mom good-bye. I’m not going to consider doing it until I am out of school of course, but it is something to look forward to for next summer. I tried to work on a farm this summer, but I couldn’t get anyone to pay me to work, and I convinced myself I just didn’t have the spare time to work for free. That was a lie. Farmers hesitate to hire a white fool who has never worked on a farm before, when there are plenty of more experience workers than me clamoring for the same job. It would be a bad business decision for them to hire me and I know that. My only option to get experience on a farm is to work for free; and if I’m working for free, I might as well enjoy where I’m working, right? Portland or California, heck maybe even somewhere on the other side over in Virgina–I’ll make up my mind when I have to, but that time isn’t now. Now all I have to do is

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WWOOFING

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