When all of our children were living at home we enjoyed the cultural exchange that came from hosting foreign exchange students with AFS and YFU. Nine young people spent at least a week, but most spent a school year, living as part of our family. It was fun and interesting to welcome these young people from Ghana, Germany, Italy, Austria, Pakistan, Finland, and the Ukraine. After our four oldest children grew up and moved out, we realized 1. We didn’t want to drive to the high school anymore and were a bit done with feeding growing teenagers who didn’t even help around the house. 2. We had a big house and 3. We could use some help!
While I was on staff at a yoga place in the Bahamas in the winter of 2014, I met people who worked at the yoga place sometimes, but also Wwoofed, whatever that was. Some of them were incredibly hard working, talented, smart people and when I learned that Wwoofing meant the exchange of room and board for work on a farm, I realized that we needed WWoofers!
What is Wwoof?
The acronym has changed meaning a few times since Wwoofing started in 1971 in England. It originally stood for Working Weekends on Organic Farms and was a work exchange that matched up people from the city who were looking for a way to get out into the countryside and experience “the good life” with farms in rural areas that had a shortage of seasonal workers.
Now it usually translated as Willing Workers on Organic Farms or as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is a loose network of national organizations that connect workers and farms in more than 200 countries around the world.
To date, we have hosted more than 14 WWoofers on our microfarm, Applewood, from as nearby as the next town over and from as far away as Germany. On our farm, we exchange 20 hours of work a week in exchange for a room and board. Many of our WWoofers have also worked for pay in our landscaping and gardening business.
It’s been wonderful.
Our Wwoofers have been former soldiers, professional writers, retired people, high school seniors, and artists and seekers of every kind. They live with us and learn about gardening, beekeeping, landscaping, and cooking with lots of vegetables. They help out with chores, animal care, and house-sitting. Some have returned to live and work with us form more than one season. Some have met and gone off to make babies with their life partner! Many have made a permanent change to our property. All have enriched our lives.