How do I start?
The first thing you need to decide is where, precisely you want to go WWOOFING. Many countries have their own national WWOOF organisation, full details on www.wwoof.net. Click on the country you are interested in to visit their website; then look for a button/link that says “preview host farms” (NB – most, but not all sites have this facility).
If you read about a farm you would like to visit you will need to enrol as a volunteer to access the contact details for that farm. To do this return to the home page and look for a link that says "Sign up" or similar and follow the instructions.
It is then your responsibility to make direct contact with a host farm of your choice to arrange a mutually convenient time for your visit.
Please note that if you want to WWOOF in more than one country you MUST contact and subscribe to the WWOOF organisation in each country you want to volunteer in. Eg to wwoof in Spain - join WWOOF Espana, to WWOOF in Australia join WWOOF Australia.
Countries that do not have their own national WWOOF organisation - but still have farms interested in hosting volunteers are listed by www.wwoofindependents.org .
What kind of VISA do I need?
Each country has different visa requirements, so you need to check with the relevant WWOOF organisation. In general it is up to the volunteer to research and arrange any visas required for their WWOOFing stay. WWOOF organisations do not normally arrange placements on the farms - this is something you do directly with the hosts. This means that neither WWOOF staff or WWOOF hosts can usually help you with getting visas.
How old do I have to be to go WWOOFing?
WWOOF Independents requires you to be 18 years old. This is actually a legal issue. In most countries people below 18 are still considered by law to be children, which means that hosts would be legally responsible for anything that happens to you on their property. Many of our hosts are not willing to take on the extra responsibility that this entails.
Some national organisations do take younger people. Currently WWOOF Canada, WWOOF Portugal, WWOOF Italy and WWOOF Ireland take people at 17 years old, though sometimes a letter of consent from your parent or guardian is required. Other WWOOF groups like WWOOF Switzerland say it is up to each individual farmer, whilst WWOOF Turkey require you to be at least 20 years old.
Your other option may be to travel with someone that can act as your legal guardian and take responsibility for you while you are on a host farm.
How much will it cost to go WWOOFing?
Each WWOOF trip is unique. It is therefore difficult to provide a precise figure. Please ensure you budget for the following:
subscription fee to WWOOF Independents is 15£ (GBP) for a single membership which lasts for one year.
all travel expenses including travel to WWOOF country and travel to/from between host farms
Accommodation en route
Mobile phone/internet access
If you don't already have sturdy working boots and a sleeping bag it is also advisable to purchase these (though many farmers may have proper beds and linen for you...these are examples of the kind of things you need to clarify with your hosts before travelling).
For How long can I stay on a WWOOF farm?
This is decided between you and your host. There is no standard period. It can be anything from a few days to a few months. It all depends on what you both want. While some hosts like long stays others prefer short stays. Some ask for a few weeks trial before accepting people for longer stays.
Can I go WWOOFing with my children?
Some farms are very happy to welcome people with children while others are not. For farms that already have children it is often a pleasure to have other children around.
We recommend you start by thinking about which country or countries you wish to visit .
When searching the WWOOF Independents' host list, you can filter the search by checking the "Accepts children" filter to identify which farms are happy to accept children.
For getting the perspective of others that WWOOF with children there are several articles:
I want to volunteer in several different countries. Is there an international membership?
WWOOF is structured on a national level. While there are many WWOOF organisations around the world there is no central list or organisation. You need to join WWOOF in each of the countries you intend to visit. There is no International WWOOF membership. We are a network of WWOOF nations!
Many countries have their own national organisations, full details at www.wwoof.net.
If you want to WWOOF in any of these countries you MUST contact and subscribe to the WWOOF organisation in that country. When you join one of these countries you will only receive the list of hosts in that country.
At www.wwoofindependents.org we list hosts in countries which do not have a national organisation. You can check in which countries we have hosts here (MISSING LINK).
Subscribing to WWOOF Independents will enable you to visit farms in more than one country – though not necessarily the ones you want!
What kind of security checks are done on hosts?
The checks made on the hosts vary depending on where you WWOOF.
WWOOF organisations only act as contact agencies between farms and volunteers. Some WWOOF groups do visit each host before they are accepted, others require further checks or references. Other groups do no checks at all. As many WWOOF organisations are not-for-profit they do not always have the resources to visit their host farms.
So you need to directly ask the WWOOF group that works in the country you want to visit what checks they do on their hosts.
WWOOF Independents follows a complaints procedure and actively encourages members to provide feedback about hosts. If a complain is received the administrator will contact the host immediately to evaluate the situation. Depending on the seriousness of a complaint the administrator will decide whether to delete the hosts' account or not.
In general - when arranging to visit a WWOOF host you must take all the precautions you would take when visiting someone you do not know.
WWOOF Independents has a feedback system. To contact the WWOOF Independents administrator one can click on the question-mark icon in the bottom left corner of each page of the Independents site and fill in the form.
The majority of WWOOF organisations have strict complaints procedures. If they get a complaint about a host it is investigated. If the complaint is upheld they are removed from our lists and cannot join again. This applies to volunteers too!
How do I find a farm that specialises in winemaking/pig rearing/cheese making/permaculture?
When previewing or searching through the host list you can type in a keyword in the search-bar e.g. bees, vegan, children etc. or you can refine your research by using the “Filter by availability” function.
Please note that there is no guarantee that the host you are interested in will be available at the time you want to volunteer.
Am I too old to go WWOOFing?
Providing you are fit and well enough to work for 4-6 hours per day - there is no upper age limit for WWOOFing. Many farmers welcome the maturity older WWOOFers bring. We would however recommend that you tell your host in advance about any physical limitation you may have.
For more information check out ‘Will my age be an issue’
Do I need Insurance?
We recommend normal Travel Insurance, which would cover theft, illness etc. Please do your own research. You may want to check out the cover Worldnomads offers for volunteers.
Why is there a Federation of WWOOF Organisations (FoWO) and an International WWOOF Association (IWA)? What is the difference?
For more than forty years WWOOF has spread from country to country in a very organic way, with each new group being independently owned and operated, yet being part of a larger network.
There was no formal organisation to represent the interests of WWOOF worldwide – or to answer the myriad of requests sent to “head office” from journalists, potential co-ordinators, volunteer groups or other organisations ... or indeed to respond to the occasional complaint.
Instead two portal websites were created – one operated by WWOOF UK – and the other by WWOOF New Zealand (on behalf of a collective of several other WWOOF groups including: France, Japan, and Australia ). Both these sites primarily signposted people to WWOOF in their country of interest or origin. They also provided a listing service for host farms in countries where there was no national WWOOF group – otherwise known as Independents.
Whilst this system served many adequately for a long time – it has not always been effective and has certainly caused confusion for many. As the internet has expanded and global trading intensified so the pressure to resolve these issues has mounted.
In September 2011 at an international conference for WWOOF groups in Korea a resolution was passed to create a Federation – an organisation that could unite, promote, protect and support the WWOOF movement around the world. It would be a way for WWOOF groups to come together and cooperate, to share common responsibilities including the management of one combined portal website as well as managing a single (unified) Independents list.
The Federation's establishment involved more than 18 months of discussion and negotiation between parties within the WWOOF movement from across the world – and was finally incorporated in March 2013 (www.wwoof.net).
As well as the various practical functions performed by the FoWO, such as addressing trademarking issues, helping to legalize and protect the WWOOF movement, some of the main objects of this umbrella organisation are to support and promote the various existing national organisations by providing these with a previously non-existent coordinative network. Member countries are now regularly communicating between each other and sharing precious knowledge and informations for the development of this steadily growing movement.
However some countries were not satisfied with all the agreements and the speed of the procedure in the unifcation and pulled out of the agreement. They continue to operate their own separate organisation – the IWA - and regrettably to this day the two independent host listings have not been amalgamated. FoWO continues to communicate with the IWA and strives to reach a mutual understanding that will provide a unified worldwide WWOOF Federation.