WWoofing in Europe - Volunteer farm work

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My partner and I are contemplating doing some Wwoofing in April, probably in Italy and maybe also around the Black Forest.

 

I have done a bit of searching online to try and find tips and suggestions that are not affiliated with the actual Wwoofing Europe site, which is more difficult than I expected.

 

The info I'm looking for - basically any 'nightmare' farms to avoid and the opposite, places where people had really good experiences - seems to be distilled into individual blogs, rather than there being any feedback sites per se, which makes it difficult to get info without searching a million blogs.

 

Have any TTers done any Wwoofing, and if you have, what are your tips and suggestions (other than be prepared for hard work) for great farms and interesting experiences?

 

Any help, or useful websites that I've missed, gratefully received!

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Yeah, sorry, Darknight, just assumed that people who have experience doing Wwoofing, which is what I am after, know what the acronym stands for.

 

But good idea to clarify it for those who are otherwise interested, appreciate it...

 

Brief Summary for those who don't want to visit the website: it's basically working on organic farms for free in exchange for food and board. You can do it all over the world, but the conditions at each farm are quite different. You pay a fee to the volunteer organisation who then release a list of farms involved in the scheme, who you then contact yourself.

 

As it's impossible to tell from a list which place works you 12hrs a day and then has you sleep on a mat in a rat infested shack from those who provide a basic, decent room and a bed, first hand experience is invaluable!

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Just one question springs to mind - Why?

 

Why would you want to pay money to go somewhere and then work as a shit shoveling farm labourer for free?

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I don't understand why you're having problems finding stuff. Each country has it's own 'site' you can get contacts and things from. I have friends who have done this and have had no problem connecting and getting their location and dates set.

You did join so you can get the list, right? Some are independent and you don't need to join, but for most you need to be a member to get the site location list.

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Oh, I checked back excitedly hoping that someone might have some information regarding my question...!

 

HEM: Ha ha! Obviously I am barking up the wrong tree with you!

 

Steven192: Because we are on a budget and want to get out of the city and into the European countryside for a while and do something physical - I don't have a problem with shoveling shit. You don't pay to work on the farms by the way, you pay a small fee (which includes insurance) to access the list of farms, which supports the organisations which run Wwoofing in Europe.

 

Mere: I'm not having problems getting the list, the official information, setting dates and times with hosts, accessing each country's site etc.

I asked for feedback from people who had actually worked on the farms from the list rather than relying solely on the info from the official Wwoof sites, because, as I also said, the lists themselves provide NO REAL indication of what the farms are like. We could pick a farm going on the info listed alone (and the rate this is going, we no doubt will!) but other people's experience is invaluable. One of the guiding principals of TT I thought?

 

I'll keep plowing through blogs!

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Hey Brionybird,

Well, I'm proud to say I know what Wwoofing is, unlike these other TT'ers, though I've never done it before. It's funny, it hadn't occurred to me that there could even be such a thing as nightmare farms in the Wwoof roster.

 

The New York Times's Frugal Traveler wwoofed a lot and wrote about it here:

http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/04/tending-the-farm-stand-in-southern-france/

 

Anyway, it seems like you couldn't go too far wrong, no? Go check it out for us, and let TT know how it goes. I, for one, would be interested in hearing whether there are any people who wwoof with their children in tow. Are the farms cool with that?

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I'm only familiar with Woofing in the states and it was always a good experience for my friends that did it. I would advice making sure that you and the farmer can communicate. From my experience with farming communities here in Germany, it is very rare to find someone that speaks English. I would also advice finding a farm that is doing cool things that you might be interested in and contacting them yourself since I'm not sure how widespread Woofing is in Germany. Please let us know how it goes. Good Luck!

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Although I have no direct experience with WWOOFing. I have done 8 stints with HelpX.net. Basically the site acts as a go between volunteers and hosts.

 

As a volunteer you agree to work approx 25hrs per week in return for food and bed. Its nothing to register unless you want to go premium and see more information about the host

 

You can into this volunteering in two ways. First you can go for the "I dont mind what I do I just want see the real country" approach or Secondly you may have skills that you want to offer/improve. For example animal husbandry in France.

 

When you have decided what you want to do have a clear goal in mind and state to the hosts what you will and wont do. Ditto the hosts what they expect.

 

Personally I wouldnt stay longer than two week initially.

 

Has for the validity of the hosts, its down to reviews and instinct.

 

Any more info, feel free to Pm me

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Ill give you and your partner a couple tasty tofu burgers, if you come pick the veggies from my grandmothers garten this summer!

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So that's where BadDoggie's got to... he's gone all Tom & Barbara on our collective asses...

 

wwoof

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Thanks to those people who have offered constructive advice.

 

 

It's funny, it hadn't occurred to me that there could even be such a thing as nightmare farms in the Wwoof roster.

Unfortunately Justanne, according to this there are! And I've read quite a few other accounts like this one, the problem being they usually don't name the farms in question and - though not in this case - it's not possible to contact the person who wrote the original post. Hence my initial post on TT.

 

Thanks for the tips Injira, sensible and also encompassed in the list of things the official Wwoof site tells you to do. Wwoofing is pretty widespread in Germany - 290 farms - and you can choose to go to one where English is spoken. You get all this info when you get the list of farms.

 

Roysterdoyster, thanks for the advice and the HelpX.net tip, I'll definitely check it out.

 

Can I just reiterate that Wwoof Europe has a check list on its site that suggests you do all the logical things like speak to the farmer before you go, go somewhere you are interested, check the conditions with the farmer, make sure you can communicate etc. It's all here. It goes without saying that we will do all of these things.

 

My question was: does anyone have any personal experience of actual farms (good or bad) that they have worked on that might be of use to us when selecting a place to go.

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Looks like a no. Close your eyes, throw a dart at the book, or maybe follow the advice that the bloody book gives (rather than quoting it back and saying 'it's all in there'). If you're too reticent to do it without someone telling you exactly where to go and what to do, then do something else a little less risky (than a farm stay - my god, you're not hitching solo around Kreblekistan). I think it's a bit shit to come on here and then slag off folk for not spoon-feeding you exactly what you want.

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Ah yeah, I had pretty much gathered that, thanks for your helpful advice Bob.

 

Though I did get a couple of personal emails expressing frustration with responses like yours, the gist being that they are irrelevant and show an inability to read the post properly. Eg. It's not a 'book' that you get the info from, and I didn't ask for information I already had, but for people's personal experience.

 

I haven't slagged anyone off though - before you that is - and I think it's totally bizarre that you think I have. I thanked people and then gently reiterated my question, which I think is OK.

 

I also think it's OK to ask people for their experience, good or bad, of doing this sort of thing, this being a forum for people who have travelled, one way or another, out of their own country. I don't think I suggested I was going into some kind of a warzone.

 

My question is the equivalent of say, looking at something in a catalogue that you want to buy and then a friend saying, "It looks good, but I bought it and it was shite".

So then you don't buy it.

 

I have limited time to travel before I return to the 'real world' and I want to have the best experience possible, particularly if I am working my arse off for it.

 

Thanks to those TTers who emailed me with info on their experiences, much appreciated.

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Hi,

 

No experience but just wanted to say thanks for bringing my attention to this organisation. I have already planned my holiday for this summer but... I'll keep this possibility in mind for the future. Thanks.

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Have heard good things about a place in Italy called Spannocchia but I'm not sure if they take more casual wwoofers or just longer term (for a year say). Have tried it once in Germany, it didn't work out well for a few different reasons but it hasn't put me off the idea. Will just be a lot more careful about finding out exactly what is expected and what is waiting for me next time round.

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Hey, I know this is a pretty old thread but I am also interested WWoofing around europe for a few months. I have already looked on the WWoof website and have found some farms that sound great but it would be nice to hear if anybody has worked somewhere where they have had a great experience and would recommend.

 

Thanks, Leah.

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Leah, may I suggest that you also post on travelers' forums, like Lonely Planet's? You may find more people there who have tried it and can give you advice.

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