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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 11 Dec 2002
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wwoof?

Has anyone travelled using "World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms" (www.wwoof.org) ? It is a organization that lists farms that are willing to trade labor on the farm for room and board.

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Old 21 Dec 2002
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I can tell you about my experiences WWOOF in Canada during summer 2002.

WWOOFing can be a great way to experience life on the road at little expense in exchange for your labour.

"Organic Farms" submit their details to a national WWOOFing body that then compiles these contact details and brief descriptions of the "organic farm" into a booklet. This booklet is sold to the WWOOFer. (The details of operation do vary slightly country to country).

You can meet some wonderful WWOOFing hosts - but you can meet some duds too. I would still recommend buying the booklet - paper, ink, phonecalls aren't free - so I would support the WWOOFing body.

In Canada the definition of "Organic Farm" can be loose. I worked in a place that had a cabin for rent and the "organic farm" turned out to be a 6 foot square vegetable patch. The work we didn't involve much organic farm stuff - mostly weeding. But it was a really cool place in a beautiful setting by the sea with an outdoor bathtub on a cliff that was great to use at night.

I decided to go meet WWOOFing hosts before committing to anything. Which turned out to be very wise. I met an oyster farmer who was basically looking just for cheap labour. He actually offered to pay me some pocket money for "extra" work - with oysters there can be 12 hour days when you have to do stuff all night when the tide is right. Normally there appears to be a rule of thumb of 4-5 hours a day for work. But the hosts make this up themselves. It would be wise to meet people and clarify as best you can what you will be expected to do, what hours, what time off, what food and what accommodation.

I'd prefer to eat with the hosts. But some hosts give you cooking facilities and some food and you do your own thing. Not all "organic farms" are vegetarian or organic even. Not that that's bad - but just to let you know.

There was one entry that went something like "Yukon, isolated (days walk) cabin, Rastafarian gentleman looking for assistant to help with gardening, cooking and cleaning..."???? I didn't go check that one out.

Accommodation varies hugely. In the place with the cabin for rent, we WWOOFers slept in extremely posh rooms with big glass windows overlooking the sea. These were Bed and Breakfast Bedrooms. We did have to play musical beds when paying guests arrived. But that was fine.

A self contained cabin might sound nice. And one place I saw had a lovely spacious one room cabin with old enamel legged bath in one corner and wood burning cooking stove and again big window overlooking the sea with loft bed. Rustic, rough and ready but fantastic. On the other hand, I spent a night (only one mind you) in a damp (suppose the 3 foot square hole in the window didnt help) moldy, smelly, basically dodgy "cabin".

I feel it's much better to do WWOOFing work where there are other travelling WWOOFers. It's great to have some comrades in the same boat and swapping travel stories, going hiking together, maybe to the pub or whatever. As well as being a support should any issues arise with your hosts.

I knew I was on to a good thing when I stayed at an "ex-" Japanese farm on Mayne Island off Vancouver. At our first meal, which the host cooked and was delicious, the host offered me a !!!! Highly irregular - but great.

I'm still in touch with 2 fellow WWOOFers I met in Canada, which is kinda nice too.

So in short - DO IT!!!! But check out the hosts first! Have a ball.

Grant March
(My trip Dallas,TX - LA,CA - Vancouver,BC - Inuvik,NWT - Anchorage,AK - Quadra (Paradise!!!) Island, BC - Jan-Sep 2002)
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