World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (also known as Willing Workers on Organic Farms) (WWOOF) is a loose network of national organisations which facilitate the placement of volunteers on organic farms.
While there are WWOOF hosts in 99 countries around the world, there is no central list or organisation encompassing all WWOOF hosts. As there is no single international WWOOF membership, all recognised WWOOF country organisations strive to maintain similar standards, and work together to promote the aims of WWOOF
WWOOF originally stood for “Working Weekends on Organic Farms” and began in England in 1971. Sue Coppard, a woman working as a secretary in London, wanted to provide urban dwellers with access to the countryside, while supporting the organic movement. Her idea started with trial working weekends for four people at the bio-dynamic farm at Emerson College in Sussex.
People soon started volunteering for longer periods than just weekends, so the name was changed to Willing Workers on Organic Farms. However, the word “work” caused problems with some countries’ labour and immigration authorities, who confused WWOOF volunteers with migrant workers. Because of this, and in recognition of the worldwide nature of the organization, the name was changed again in 2000 to World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, though some WWOOF country organiations chose to retain the older name.
WWOOF’s aims to provide volunteers with first-hand experience in organic and ecologically sound growing methods to help the organic movement, and to let volunteers experience life in a rural setting or a different country. WWOOF volunteers (‘WWOOFers’) generally do not receive any financial payment. The host provides food, accommodation and opportunities to learn, in exchange for assistance with farming or gardening activities. The duration of the visit can range from a few days to years. Workdays average 5–6 hours and participants interact with other WWOOFers from various countries.
WWOOF farms include private gardens through smallholdings, allotments, and commercial farms. Farms become WWOOF hosts by enlisting with their national organisation. In countries with no WWOOF organisation, farms enlist with WWOOF UK and WWOOF Australia.