What is WWOOFing anyway?

Several of you have recently asked me what the heck I was talking about when mentioning that we were preparing to go off on our first WWOOF assignment. WWOOF, according to the booklet we have, officially stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms; but everyone else refers to it as Willing Workers on Organic Farms. For a NZ$40 annual fee, you receive a 150 page booklet containing information on 850+ properties throughout NZ which include large-scale farms, market gardens, and communities and ventures in self-sufficiency in which organic growing plays a part. Property sizes range from under an acre to several hundred acres. And all of them generally will take one to four people as a WWOOFer — folks who volunteer to work on the property for three to five hours a day in exchange for room and board. Some places offer up a room in the family home; others have private cottages or campervans for use. Some are located right in the heart of the city; and some are in remote country areas or on smaller off-shore islands. They’re everywhere and there’s something for everyone.

Take a look at these few which have websites:

Otametea Eco Village

Manganui Global Village

Wairua Creative Retreat

Dorie Chang Institute

Church Bay Studio

Huming Hill Homestead & Farm

We’re interested in finding places implementing permaculture techniques and we’ve spent hours going through the booklet to identify potential farms.

We feel quite fortunate to have secured our first assignment at a family farm where the couple runs a garden scuplture and permaculture design business. We’re there for eight days! Here’s what their blurb had to say:

Mara Whenua is a beautiful sanctuary featuring streams and river, kauri, kiwi, waterfalls, high country, and magic mountain. Excellent swimming, pure drinking water, marked bush tracks from 20 minutes to 5 hours long. We began this eco-project in 1990 and now have established permaculture gardens, orchards, and a growing forest of hardwood and naturally durable timber species. We are involved off the land with our garden sculpture and permaculture design business. Wayne is keen on Green Politics. We offer 100% vegetarian food, private accommodation with basic facilities, solar power. We have 3 kids. We prefer motivated, self-reliant people who speak reasonable English. Musicians and good cooks most welcome. Please bring a torch and gumboots in winter. We encourage long term Wwoofers and permaculture students.

Sound cool? We’ll let you know.