May072012
WWOOFing All Over the World

WWOOFing all over the world

By: Charlie Parrish, Staff Writer
May 3, 2012

With a big mission and a slightly odd acronym, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) provides opportunities for volunteers interested in learning about farming and sustainability.

WWOOF is a network connecting people who wish to volunteer on organic farms with organic farmers who are willing to host them. It is a system based on an exchange.

A volunteer will work for four to six hours a day on the farm in exchange for free room, board and a breadth of knowledge about more sustainable living from their hosts.

WWOOF began in England in 1971 in an effort to provide access to the countryside and a way to support the organic movement for those who wanted to take part but didn’t know how. The movement has since grown globally, and offers opportunities worldwide, as the name suggests.

Author and WWOOFer Steffen Mirsky recently published a book titled “WWOOFing Adventures Down Under: Living and Working on 36 Organic Farms in Australia and New Zealand” about his experiences WWOOFing in Australia and New Zealand for a year and a half. He gave a presentation on the subject at Luther last Wednesday, April 25.

“The essence of WWOOFing is really in the exchange,” Mirsky said. “It is not just a work exchange, but an exchange of education, culture and skills.”

Mirsky, a graduate of the University of Washington, currently works at Seed Savers in Decorah, an organization he learned about in a few of his homestays while WWOOFing.

Mirsky believes that WWOOFing can teach volunteers valuable skills.

“The opportunities for WWOOFing are endless,” Mirsky said. “You can learn about all aspects of sustainability. Sustainability issues are incredibly important now and will only become more important in the future. Beyond that, you learn a lot of new skills and have a lot of fun.”

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